Rugby talent all in the head
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.’’