Blackrock Rugby Festival

We spent the day in Nairobi yesterday. We went with much of RVA to the Blackrock Rugby Festival. Blackrock is one of the biggest rugby events for our students. Typically, 24 high school teams compete. They come from as far as eight hours away to compete. RVA and the host school, St. Mary's, were currently ties for most all time championships heading into the day.

The days leading up to Blackrock were fun. Friday morning, all members of the varsity rugby team came to class dressed up, and they had hats covering their heads. It is a tradition at RVA that the each rugby team member shaves his head before Blackrock, and their bald heads are unveiled at chapel to the cheers of their classmates. This year, that tradition ended as these players decided to not shave their heads. I think that was a good choice. They are much better looking with their hair! I think part of their decision was cultural sensitivity since many of the RVA rugby players are white. They didn't want to come off as skin heads when our competition did not have white players. Our boys did decorate their arms in henna tattoos (some used black sharpie). Some had Bible verse tattoos while others had intricate patterns and looked to me like the New Zealand All Blacks.

So, the Wallaces traveled to Nairobi with a couple of other families to watch the event.

A round robin pool event took was first. They played 15 minute matches. RVA dominated their competition. We won each of those three matches by at least two tries. If you are not familiar with the intricacies of the rules of rugby, I will not take the time here to describe all of the rules, because I still do not understand them. I'm getting better, though! :)

We had the opportunity to sneak away for lunch at a nearby shopping center to each at Java House. This was our first good hamburger and cup of coffee in quite some time.

In the afternoon, RVA won their semi-final match.

Several of my students came up to me and asked if I was enjoying the rugby. I told them I was, but I wasn't there for the Rugby, I was there for them. I think they're beginning to get that I love them and am here only for them. A couple of other students of mine asked if I would be willing to come back and teach chemistry full time with them. That was sweet of them to say. I told them that for now, I think they have a great chemistry teach at RVA and that I would prefer that they graduate and come to AU to let me teach them chemistry for four years. I'm always recruiting. :)

Then, wouldn't you know it, our opponent in the finals would be St. Marys. The home crowd would be large and against us. The winner would have ultimate bragging rights as the ultimate, all-time leaders in Blackrock wins.

Our boys lines up facing the crowd and put their hands over their hearts and sang the RVA school song. Then, they went to midfield and huddled up. Then, the home team, St. Marys, came out to a huge roar. They lined up facing the crowd, put their arms in the air, and sang their school song to the crowd. They were joined in the music by their fans. I looked out at our boys huddled up, and they started chanting, in Swahili I think, jumped up and down and all around, and were totally psyched up! I think this tradition of the team singing their school song to the crowd should be brought back into the states.

Then the match began with a drop kick to the opposing team.

Our boys would score the first try. I was surprised they call it a "try" when it looks like a touch down. And, to me, it was no longer a try, but a success. That's worth five point. We kicked the "extra point" and were up 7-0. I guess it was an extra two points. St. Marys answered with a field goal (at least that's what it looked like to me.) We were up 7-3 or 7-4. I didn't know because I don't know the rules. Then, they scored a try before halftime. We answered with a "field goal" and it looked to me to be all tied at the half.

Then, our boys got a little more fire in their bellies. They took it to St. Marys to give me some of the most exciting, hard hitting rugby I've ever seen! Granted, that's about two hours of rugby by that time, but it was exciting. There were great scrums, hard tackles, and rucking like I've never seen before, going on.

Their fans would chant and dance, but it would not be enough.

In the end, RVA was victorious! Our boys jumped on each others backs. It looked to me like they won a basketball sectional back in Indiana.

Then, in an unusual turn of events, the opposing crowd went out and celebrated with us and their team. The home team brought bottles of Cokes out and their fans would shake the Cokes and spray them like champagne bottles on each other. It looked like so much fun. I did not go anywhere near it.

We left the event round 5:30 p.m. It was a full day. We hit bad traffic on the way back. The two (sometimes 4) lane highways aren't enough sometimes in the country's capital. One car breaks down and it all slows to a crawl. You don't really want to be out on the roads in the dark. It's not safe. We saw one semi truck with no tail lights. If a car breaks down, there is no place to pull off on the side of the road. They often will put some tree branches on the road a couple of dozen meters behind their broken down car. You can come up onto a situation like that quickly and get in an accident. You can get stopped in the traffic jam in the middle of a place known to reach in your window and grab your cell phones on a quick grab and run.

But, we all returned safe at 7:30 p.m, just in time for the boys to run to their RVA movie nights and for me and Amy to shower and rest.

It was a fun, full day in Nairobi.

One last note, I'm told that Kenya rugby is like basketball in Indiana and football in Texas. It was a great experience, but I still think football in Texas and what basketball in Indiana was when I grew up, still wins. ;)

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