I braved the cold sideline of a club rugby premier game at the weekend.

A time-poor father of five children, I haven't attended a local version of the national game for years.

In winters of past my siblings and I would watch my father play for Waipawa United and travelled the rural district for a spot of footy and an ensuing hot plate of saveloys.

On Saturday at Clive's Farndon Park the sounds, sights and smells flooded back.


Namely gumboots, umbrellas, winter soil the consistency of playdough, the stern-looking club kaumatua in dress uniforms a season or three too small and barefoot kids running riot on adjacent fields.

It's where you'll stumble across the most unique Kiwi aroma - liniment paired with sausage sizzle.

We're there because we like to watch 30 blokes held together with duct tape. They yell at each other and repeatedly point to where their teammates should be, strangely coherent despite the mouthguard.

'Twas glorious.

Marist were handing Clive a royal hiding. As is the case with any thumping, the sideline went quiet as the score blew out beyond the spectacle. Kiwis are great like that - no one enjoys a hiding.

The one aspect blighting the occasion was that Clive supporters were nearly outnumbered by their players.

That scene didn't quite fit with how I'd remembered things as a kid, where a club's sideline was the club.

Still, a cold rain fell. I'm hoping this explains the lack of home-team numbers, and not simply my ignorance after years away from the grassroots.