For those of you who don’t know (and probably live in the United States), rugby is an “advanced” if you are from the UK or “barbaric” if you are from the US—- form of American football, where men and women the size of tanks run at each other, beat each other up, pass the ball backwards (its key difference from American football) in an attempt to score. Now the majority of my rugby knowledge comes from my best friend Casey, who happens to be the former President of Fairfield University Rugby Club. In May 2007, we ventured to New Zealand, where I got my first taste of this interesting sport. It was there that I learned that a.) I know nothing about rugby b.) I should probably never involve myself with anything rugby related.
We had just finished our first day of tourism in Auckland, complete with sheep spotting, volcano sliding, and other kiwi adventures, and were ready for a nice relaxing dinner at a local sports bar. Being the most awesome best friend, I stole Casey’s very comfy black “FU Rugby Team” Sweatshirt — (Fairfield Univeristy for all you people with your minds in the gutter). BIG. MISTAKE. I had unknowingly and extremely stupidly borrowed the one piece of clothing that would a conversation starter for the rest of our trip. No sooner had we stepped into the pub did several hummer-sized human beings come up to us and to talk shop. The conversation started off innocuously. Mainly questions about their patron team, our predictions for the six nations, things that even I could answer (All Blacks Rules and clearly New Zealand.) And then, the largest of the pack, turned to me and very casually asked,
“so are you a hooker?.”
I was shocked, blinking my eyes at him, wondering if I had just perhaps misunderstood him.
He, misinterpreting my stunned silence that I had not heard the question, repeated it a bit louder so that everyone in the bar could have the opportunity to hear;
“Ai, I said, ARE YOU A HOOOOOKER?”,elongating the last word so I could not misinterpret his question at all.
With all the dignity I could muster, while wearing flip-flops, I responded with a sharp ” I most certainly am not?”
This was meet in dead silence.
And then, this big behemoth of a man began to shake.
It started with his proturding belly and dispersed across his body, and culminated with a rip of rolling laughter. “Ai, mates” he exclaimed, as her turned to the group, “she thought I was calling her a night-walker.” At this point, everyone, including my ex-best friend, are rolling on the floor, laughing their “arses” off.
Apparently a hooker is a position in rugby and is typically the smallest person on the team. Go figure. And for the rest of the night, I was, lovingly i think, referred to as “the lady of the night.”
Don’t worry, for the rest of the trip I quickly learned that whenever Case wore the sweatshirt, I should utter the three most crucial rugby phrases ever (in NZ) , “Go All Blacks” “That was a great scrum” and “bartender, another round of beer.”