Saturday 10th July

I was up and out the door by 9.15am, safe in the knowledge that somewhere (most likely, the Mugg & Bean cafe or Keg & Countryman pub) would be showing the opening match of the Tri-Nations rugby tournament between New Zealand and South Africa, which was being held in Auckland. Leechie, Simon and myself had discussed the night before going to watch it in the morning, if it wasn’t on the sports channel we had in the Lodge.

So, along with Cath, we made our way to Bromhof, and as we stepped out of the car, we could hear cheering and shouting already, so we followed the noise, sure enough, to the pub, which was rammed with people all kitted out in their dark green Springbok jerseys, eyes up at the screen, drinking and laughing. We managed to find what must’ve been one of the last tables in the pub, re-arranged it for the TV screens, and sat down for breakfast. We were soon appraoched by a woman who offered us 4 shots of Baileys as an apology for the inevitable wait we would have to endure for food…we expected nothing less than to have to wait when it was as packed as it was, but it added to the atmosphere, there was certainly nothing to complain about.

We spent the next couple of hours getting stuck into some serious rugby, watching the All Blacks dig into the Springboks. Commentary from Leechie and Bellis accompanied the Kiwi voice coming from the speakers, as we witnessed New Zealand tear the Boks apart.

Meggy sent me a text to tell me she had some good news to share, so once we were paid up (R70 each – £7 each, for a full English breakfast and 2 orange juices), we made our way home, where I fired up the laptop and launched Skype to have a chat.

Good news? Just a bit!! She told me there was a possibility of her being offered a year’s contract for the next academic year at her school (Grange Community Primary)…what about that?! The connection wasn’t great so we had to cut things short, but I couldn’t believe it, I was over the moon for her, it was just a shame she had to tell me over the internet, rather than in person.

That afternoon, I had a kick-about with Leechie, Chris and Kleiny in the back garden of the Lodge with a football Kleiny had gone out to buy especially (we asked him for some fruit and some bread, and he came back with a football with all the competing nations’ flags printed on it!). Things were going well until Leechie swung a left-footed cross in and I jumped to head it, realising too late that I wasn’t going to make full contact, and the ball glanced off my head, over the razor wire (no rugby ball repeat!) and into an apartment garden nextdoor. Game over. Things here aren’t like they are at home, you can’t just nip nextdoor, knock on the door and ask for it back…I went out onto the road, buzzed the different apartments hidden behind the security gate until someone responded (and was kind enough to let me in), and then find someone who was in to let me into their security-fenced garden to fetch it. I made it to the door, but that was it…security everywhere, no way to climb, and everything locked. That ball wasn’t coming back.

I got back in to find the others tapping away at their laptops, a day after Louise had told us that we’d already exceeded the initial limit she’d set…I don’t think they do ‘real’ home internet here yet. It had been decided that I was to shoot the 2 training sessions at Soccer City in the evening, mainly as something to do so I could pick up my car parking pass for Sunday at the same time. I went there with Chris at 4.30pm, meeting some others who had gone earlier, via other places.

Both sessions were crap…really awful. We were allowed a full hour to shoot the Netherlands, and only the first 15 minutes of the Spainsh one…both were terrible, especially Spain, who just jogged up and down in lines in the far corner of the pitch until we were asked to leave.

We got home, having had a panini and chocolate slice for dinner at the Soccer City McCafe (nice) and got a relatively early night in, in preparation for the early start for the big one the next day.


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