About two months ago I got asked to attend Sharks games on behalf of Sharksworld, do some live commentary and write an article or two. At first I was a bit surprised, but soon got sucked into my normal and very boring daytime job and never gave it any more thought.
Last week it hit me that I was going to a Sharks vs Bulls game as a press person and it hit me, this is big!! Nerves creeped in and the mind started running wild. What do I do? What do I say? Where do I go? What do I take? Poor Rob had to field millions of questions. So here’s how my first day went:
Seeing as I was a nervous wreck, and being an auditor, I over audited the situation and decided to go as early as I could so I could suss out the situation. I arrived at my parking at the early hour of 13h00, four hours before the main game kicked off. Early is an understatement.
Getting to the entrance of the admin took very little, but once inside, I was greeted by about 6 security guards all wanting to acquaint themselves with my press pass. Once they were all happy that I was allowed to breathe the same air as them, a security guard escorted me into the lift to make sure I go no further than the third floor.
At the entrance to the press box, I was once again asked for my accreditation (my wide eyes and sweaty palms must have given away the fact that I was either a criminal at work or a rookie not knowing where to go). I was welcomed by a very friendly young lady who asked me if I wanted a drink. I declined even though some hard alcohol would have helped.
The press box looks more like a luxury lounge than anything I have seen in the stadium before. Comfy seats, a little stage where coaches would later sit and field questions, a bar and coffee station. Drawings on the wall immediately caught my attention, depicting Sharks legends in comical paintings. I was engrossed.
Once my eyes were back in their sockets, I was showed my seat for the game. Location seems to be very important for journalists, as I had the best seats I have ever had. It was just high enough for me to see everything, yet not too high so I cannot make out what’s going on. And prime on the halfway line. Perfect doesn’t quite do it justice.
After the U19 game, I decided to test out the coffee station, simple thing that I would not be able to mess up even if I tried. So there I was, feeding my caffeine addiction, when a legend of a man walks up next to me, takes a cup, and seems to share my love for a strong cuppa… Joel Stransky. Now I know he is no favourite around here, but in my eyes, he still won a World Cup for us, and he was right there next to me… within touching distance. I decided to be a brave young grasshopper and introduced myself, after which we discussed the disappointing Springbok loss to the All Blacks that morning. Amazing moment number 1 for the day.
After this discussion, and learning that Mr Stransky does think quite a bit of his own opinion, I settled into watching the U21 game. A good start gave me hope, but a loss at the end of the day was not the way I was hoping my first day would go. Disappointing moment number 2 of the day. (Number 1 was the U19’s losing) I decided to see which famous rugby legend I would meet at the coffee station this time, only to find Mr Stransky chatting up two very attractive young ladies. No other legends available, leading to disappointing moment number 3.
The Sharks then went on to give the Bulls a bit of a rugby lesson, which made for a very nice end to my day at the stadium and the experience would have been amazing had it ended right there. But that was not all folks.. I had the pleasure of sitting through two press conferences, first Frans Ludeke trying not to cry, and then John Plumtree trying very hard not to break into song and dance. I even got to ask my first question (thanks must go to Rob for telling me what to ask, as I would much rather have just taken in the moment). Amazing moments 2-4.
Thereafter I was allowed to take the field, an experience I didn’t expect to share with the other 25 573 people who attended the game. I was allowed to chat to the players, who were each mobbed by around 450 spectators asking them to sign autographs and body parts. I did manage to get hold of the Man of the Match Mvovo, and it must be said that the man is very nice! Amazing moment number 5.
So all in all, my amazing moments far outscored my disappointing moments, and a great evening was had! I eventually found my way home after celebrating a proper Bulls hiding! A big thank you to Rob and Sharksworld for making the above experience a reality and not some sort of rugby supporters wet dream. Bring on the Pumas Friday night!!Tweet