SA feel to Springbok practice
Adnaan Mohamed - Bok Tour Diary
Auckland - Vuvuzela’s, Afrikaner coons and boerewors!
It might be hard to believe, but this is exactly the sounds, sights and aroma that greeted me when I pitched up at the picturesque Takapuna rugby club on Auckland’s North Shore for the Springbok practice session on Tuesday.
As I drove into the ground with a colleague, we noticed there was already no parking space available inside the packed ground.
We first had to convince the security guard that we were legitimate members of the media. After his insistence on us showing him our press cards, he eventually allowed us in. This is something that I experienced at a rugby game before, but never at a practice session.
An estimated crowd of around 1000 passionate and patriotic Bok supporters had already pitched up proudly dressed up in their finest Springbok regalia.
There was a great carnival atmosphere with a MC conducting the proceedings. The players were introduced individually and welcomed onto the pitch by loud cheers from the crowd. And judging by the reaction of the spectators, one could easily see who their favourite players are.
The Auckland City Dukes minstrel band was also in attendance to provide their unique brand of entertainment, which one would normally only find at the annual Coon Carnival celebrations in Cape Town over the New Year period.
Besides the obvious Capetonian expats of which the band is made up of, it also had a few interesting new additions. I was surprised to see two Afrikaner expats Johan Scholtz (51), a Blue Bull supporter from Centurion in Pretoria, his friend Fritz de Wet (49), a Stormers fan from Cape Town and Elizabeth Stokes, a New Zealand born 19-year old music student at Auckland University, also jolling with the band.
Scholtz who is a guitarist said: “I have been living in Auckland for nine years. I joined the Auckland Dukes because I love playing the guitar and having fun. The band provides an ideal opportunity for me to express myself and relieve stress.”
According to Scholtz, his friend De Wet used to be a professional musician who toured the world with popular Afrikaans singers Jannie du Toit and Christa Steyn. Music student Stokes says she just loves rugby, music and enjoys playing in the band.
Besides all of the goings on off the field, the players looked very sharp and focused while the coaching staff took them through their paces.
The intense practice session was rounded off with the management and players embarking on a lengthy autograph signing session before heading back to their hotel.
The players will enjoy a rest day on Wednesday before the team to play the All Blacks in the first Tri-Nations encounter at Eden Park is announced on Thursday.