Ruby Tui celebrating victory. Photo/Getty Images
Still getting off your Ruby Tui high? That’s pretty cool, huh? I think the red swatch in my hair will last another week before I have to decide to let it go
or redo the color.
Hmm. What would Ruby do?
I didn’t expect to hear a rugby player leading the Eden Park crowd in “Tutira mai nga iwi”, with the player shouting the words and the crowd screaming along with him. I didn’t expect to see so many rugby run in a test and I swear they got faster towards the end.
What will Ruby Tui do after rugby? Prime Minister could be exciting. The queen of the universe seems fair.
She would be good as a radio host on NewstalkZB. Imagine, all the wit and daring of a Mike Hosking or a Heather du Plessis Allan, but she would also bring, you know, being Ruby Tui.
They say girls everywhere want to be her. Why stop at girls? Don’t we all want to be Ruby Tui? Don’t we all recognize that she is the best of us? I know it’s wildly romantic, but what’s wrong with that?
It’s not fair to single her out, I know that. Stacey Fluhler is the best of us too, sprinting along the sideline, grinning from ear to ear as she zooms down the tryline. She clearly didn’t get the memo from Jeff Wilson. He looked happy when he scored a try, until he was scolded by a panel of troglodytes at Rugby HQ.
My favorite photo is the one taken right after Fluhler’s goal. She’s lying in the air, the England players running past, Kendra Cocksedge a-woopin’ and a-hollerin’ behind.
Most players perform this move by diving into the turf with the ball. Fluhler planted the ball with a lanky arm and now she’s flying. She just flies.
And we were flying too. Well, I was.
I didn’t expect to see an exciting rugby game that included six tries of mauls rolled, but somehow that happened too. I didn’t expect to see a team with the courage and intelligence to jump against the 5m throw lineup.
Joanah Ngan-Woo did. Joanah Ngan-Woo is the best of us, as is Krystal Murray, who lifted her, up front, and Alana Bremner, behind her in the lineout, who brought her down safely.
So are they all. So are they all.
There’s all this debate now about whether the Rugby Union can build on that. Of course it is possible. More games for Super Rugby Aupiki and expansion across Tasmania and the Pacific. More money for players. Much more field work, with schools and clubs.
It’s not that hard. Most entrepreneurs, event managers and sports marketers would give up beer for a year if it meant they could handle women’s rugby. Rugby Union just have to do the mahi.
But what about the rest of us? When we come down from our Ruby Tui high, what are we going to do?
Remember how much fun it is to be better sports fans? More singing, less alcohol, more poi?
A dairy owner I know near Eden Park spoke of her delight at the different types of crowds entering her shop. She was not abused or frightened.
Remember how awful it is when the tackle goes wrong? Up and down in the game, it’s time for a moment to learn from what happened to Portia. Let’s support them by doubling down on safer techniques.
Will the whole city be involved? There was an RWC booth all over Te Komititanga Square at the bottom of Queen Street. They even set up a stage there for a public meeting on the Sunday after the match. But that scene could have been there all along, with all the entertainment you can think of.
There will never be another major sporting event without fan zones, will there, Auckland Council?
Will it be easier to share the pleasure of the great inclusive diversity of women’s sport?
And is there a chance that rugby and rugby schools will abandon the idea that the best players should play in the ‘best’ schools?
The best rugby being played on the planet right now features players who haven’t been given ‘elite’ treatment. Who grew up in Kaitaia and Kaikohe, went to school in Feilding and Greymouth, came from Southland and Kaitaia. Ordinary children, Maori children, doing extraordinary things. The best of us.
Are we on the verge of something here? I hope. But we’ll know things have really changed when:
- The All Blacks play a curtain raiser at Eden Park ahead of a Black Ferns match.
- The Rugby Union has at least 50% women on its board, along with at least 50% Maori and Pasifika.
- Commentators kept saying “It didn’t look so bad” about high tackles. Guys, it’s not about whether it looked bad, it’s about eliminating dangerous techniques.
- Gay men who play rugby find it just as easy to date as gay women.
- All schools allow anyone who wishes to wear a touch of red in their hair.
- Hollie Davidson referees an RWC men’s final. She was really good.
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