Few people know this competition better than Eales
It was indeed a Crowded House, as the band of the same name were heard around the stadium. Their lyrics were the fitting sound track - 'Something so strong, has carried us away'. Robby Nimmo reports
Wallabies great John Eales played in many great Bledisloe Cup clashes - even kicking goals from the sidelines to help Australia win.
Just before yesterday's match, Eales in his usual relaxed manner roamed around the various tents in the hospitality area across the road from the stadium. 'Every Bledisloe game I watch brings back those memories, and today we're all watching history in the making. Bledisloe Cup matches are the best games to watch.
'Today is a great occasion for players and fans. Not much was made of Australia and New Zealand's only other clash on neutral turf in Dublin in 1991 as it was overshadowed by the fact it was the semi-final of the World Cup,' said Eales (pictured), who won 86 caps and two World Cups, one as captain.
Although he likes to keep a low profile, Eales has been doing his bit on the speaking circuit, and was spotted around town including the Captain's Bar in the Mandarin Oriental. 'Last night I went to Wagyu. Tonight I'll kick back with some families from my children's school in Mosman in Sydney. After rugby, your life moves into a new phase, and you make friends through your children's friends.
Said the man who has had various nicknames, from 'Nobody', as in 'nobody's perfect', to 'Anvil': 'I was not fast enough for the Sevens. It's easier kicking in stadiums of this size though. I recall one game in a small stadium in Petone in Wellington. I was about to kick when, from the sidelines, I heard, 'Miss it, you gay old bastard'. You've got to hand it to the Kiwis for sledging. He managed to have a go at my age, my sexuality, my rugby ability and my origins all in one sentence.
'Australia doesn't have anything like the haka, we have the tradition of Waltzing Matilda. Australians are not really known for their rhythm. I remember the first time I stood and faced the haka in 1990. This tribal battle cry means, 'I am laying down this challenge to you'. I was right opposite a tall skinny guy with dark hair who was about my age. It was like looking in a mirror. He was as un-co-ordinated as I would be at it. He was looking to follow the guys either side of him.
'There were some incredible people in that team, like Ian Jones and Robin Brooke. They changed the way second rowers played. I think we threw about 80 punches at each other. And nothing hit.'