Big rugby moment a thrill
Chronicle journalist Nicola Stewart was in Hamilton over the weekend to see the Chiefs win their first Super Rugby title.
As rain- soaked Chiefs supporters flooded out of Waikato Stadium on Saturday night, I was hit with a strong sense of deja vu.
Almost a year ago, I watched All Blacks fans brave the same muddy path after a World Cup match against Japan.
Waikato has seen some huge rugby moments, and now, after 17 years, the Chiefs have won the Super Rugby trophy for the first time, in front of a home crowd. And of course, it rained. An hour before kickoff, with fat raindrops falling into our plastic cups of Waikato Draught, my mum and I took our seats near the try line.
A familiar buzz of anticipation hung in the air as more than 25,000 fans made their way into the stands.
Chiefs fans dominated the crowd, with cow bells, red, yellow and black war paint and Chiefs jerseys filling almost every space.
I don’t think a single person was left in their seat when the 2012 Chiefs ran on to the field and fireworks filled the sky.
Adrenaline was racing as the Sharks started strong but the Chiefs fans never wavered in their support.
With each try, the crowd grew more and more raucous and the atmosphere was electric.
Even a few Sharks supporters cheered when Sonny Bill Williams leapt into the crowd.
At the final whistle, the Chiefs players’excitement matched the crowd’s excitement and I felt privileged to be a part of Waikato rugby history