Rugby tal­ent all in the head

Kapi-Mana News - - FRONT PAGE - By AN­DREA O’NEIL

There were end­less hours of train­ing, pre-match nerves and even dirty op­po­si­tion tac­tics from ri­val teams.

But this was a rugby com­pe­ti­tion with a dif­fer­ence – the com­peti­tors were trivia ex­perts, not sports­men.

Pub quiz team Tawa Tro­jans emerged vic­to­ri­ous from a na­tional Rugby World Cup quiz series with tick­ets to Oc­to­ber’s Rugby World Cup fi­nal at Eden Park their prize. Even more im­pres­sively, this is the team’s sec­ond Heineken Trivia Series win. In 2007 they were flown to Paris for the cup fi­nal be­tween Eng­land and South Africa.

The Tro­jans beat 500 teams to take this year’s ti­tle, which was fought be­tween six fi­nal­ists at an Auckland ho­tel in June.

The Tro­jans be­long to the Tawa Tro­jans cricket team, but say their rugby ex­per­tise came out of their for­ma­tive years as Tawa Col­lege rugby play­ers.

‘‘ As Tawa boys you grow up play­ing rugby, get­ting thrashed by Porirua every week, so at some point we de­cided we’d turn to the trivia side rather than the rugby side,’’ Mark Edge­combe says.

The team took the com­pe­ti­tion se­ri­ously, train­ing un­til mid­night every night as the fi­nal drew nearer. Videos of old World Cup games were an­a­lysed, play­ers’ birth­days mem­o­rised and sta­di­ums cat­a­logued ob­ses­sively.

‘‘There’s a lot of use­less knowl­edge con­tained in heads around this table,’’ he says.

World Cup years were divvied up be­tween team mem­bers to study, and num­bers whiz Barry Ni­chols drew 1999 and 2007, both All Black los­ing years.

‘‘So ba­si­cally I was de­pressed for a week,’’ he says.

While the team say there are tac­tics, such as mnemon­ics, to help mem­o­rise in­for­ma­tion, the key to trivia suc­cess is pas­sion for the sub­ject. Still, they had their fair share of nerves be­fore the quiz fi­nal, with team cap­tain Matthew Berg get­ting a case of the shakes and Mr Edge­combe com­ing down with a mi­graine – rem­i­nis­cent of the All Blacks fall­ing ill be­fore the 1995 Cup fi­nal, the men point out.

Be­ing wo­ken up at 4am the morn­ing of the fi­nal by a das­tardly ri­val team bang­ing on their ho­tel room doors didn’t help, Mark Cryer says.

About 20 per cent of the quiz ques­tions were gen­eral knowl­edge, al­beit re­lat­ing to World Cup win­ning coun­tries. One that stumped them was the dif­fer­ence be­tween a dog and a dingo – din­gos don’t bark, as it turns out.

The men rave about their trip to Paris four years ago, but New Zealand miss­ing out on the fi­nal damp­ened their buzz. This cup fi­nal will be dif­fer­ent, Mr Berg says. ‘‘We’re go­ing to win this one.’’

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