Tony Johnson, TJ, is perched on his high stool in the corner and shouting his head off into the microphone, lips right up against the thing. He's the match caller and down on the field the Chiefs have just cut the Blues backline to pieces but still they couldn't score the try because the Blues hooker, Kurt Eklund, somehow got back and monstered the other guy into the turf. TJ's a wee bit excited.
Everybody is, this is great rugby. Mind you, some people are way too cool to show it. Behind us, there's Jeff Wilson, the All Black who used to roar his excitement to the crowd whenever he scored, until the stuffed shirts who ran the game told him to bottle it. So he did, which was sad. Now he's standing there in a suit, trim and blue, shoes properly shined, not giving much away at all.
Next to him is fellow pre-match comments guy Sir John Kirwan, JK, in pork pie hat, check trousers and trainers, jigging a little. Probably I'm sitting in his seat but nobody's said anything so I stay where I am, nose to the window, best view of the park anyone gets.
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The other commentator, Karl Te Nana, KT, is down there somewhere prowling the sideline. With all the abbreviations, I want to ask Jeff Wilson why he isn't J Dub but I'm way too shy.
The rugby's so great. Up there in the commentary box, invited in by TJ, yes I do feel ridiculously lucky. Although halfway through the second half, when the Chiefs finally creep ahead, I start to wonder if I should tweet an apology.
I wrote a fan diary about the Blues all last season and they had a terrible year. I gave it up for this year and now they're title contenders. Obviously I'm a bad influence and I should stay well away.
And yet here I am, not staying away, and the Blues are in danger of going down to a team that hasn't won a single game in the whole competition.
Commentator's curse, and I'm not even commentating. Commentator-adjacent curse.
Or maybe not. The Blues won in the end, inspired to victory by captain Patrick Tuipulotu, who spent at least half the game as a very large and solid brick in a wall stretched along their own tryline, repelling every sweeping, roaring wave of the Waikato infidels' attack.
The thing about all this is that rugby, very suddenly, has changed. Somehow, with a few new rules and new coaching tricks, we've got a fast running game back, but without losing the magnificent defence. It's so watchable.
But that's far from the only thing that's new. Mils Muliaina, TJ's comments guy in the booth, talks to Blues assistant coach Tana Umaga in Samoan: they do it every game. Tuipulotu, at the end of each game, always does the same, with a call-out to family and fans, here and in Samoa.
It's the visible tip of something much bigger rumbling along inside Auckland rugby: it might be overdue and it might not be easy – I don't know – but it's obvious that cultural respect and a sense of properly belonging is evolving here.
The games are thrillingly close. In this comp, Super Rugby Aotearoa, the five New Zealand teams each play home and away against all the others. Eight games each over 10 weeks. Nine of the 14 played so far have been won by seven points or less, many of them by just two or three.
That's a single score separating winner from loser. Those unlucky Chiefs might not have won a game, but they've almost won every time they've played.
Some of the games are played at night and others – a stroke of magnificence made possible by Sky, thank you – on Sunday afternoons. The Blues like the day games because the fans do: 33,000 people turned out in the intermittent sunshine last weekend, kids all over the place, and everywhere you looked there was the happiness of crowds.
The happiness of living in a country where you can say such a thing.
Sol3 Mio sang Delilah on the field before kickoff, three Hellcats did a flyover (oh no, chemtrails!), Mexican waves went round and round and kids and adults alike hardly stopped waving those thousands of flags. At the end, fans crowded the platforms of the Kingsland railway station, still in daylight, still not too cold: it's the easy way to get there and back, with free fares for ticketholders.
And the players! In the year after a Rugby World Cup, which we lost, with a new coach and new captain for the All Blacks, it's game on in every position.
The Blues have new stars. Eklund, like all great hookers, gets himself everywhere, all muscle up top and twinkling toes beneath. There's Alex Hodgman, the prop with a face like a knife fighter (please don't hurt me for saying that). Finlay Christie, a cute redhead at halfback, and a pair of storming, jinking wings, Caleb Clarke and Mark Telea. All of them dazzling.
Tuipulotu is having the season of his life, clearly the best lock in the country right now, and other old hands have also surged back into form: the bruisingly mercurial Ioane brothers, Rieko and Akira; prop Ofa Tu'ungafasi and loose forward Dalton Papalii, both playing better now than they did as All Blacks, and they weren't bad All Blacks, either. Papalii is a revelation, in tackles and tries, with his schoolkid's face on the body of a man-mountain, and he's only 22.
As for Beauden Barrett, the superstar import, everyone loves a good whinge but he runs a smooth ship and you can see how the confidence and skills inspire the team.
Half of them have what TJ likes to call frosted tips, pink in Paddy's case, but not Beaudy. He's got the blond locks flopping around, sometimes over a taped up head, just like Josh Goodhue, brother of Crusader and All Blacks star Jack. Pākehā styles. They take all sorts.
There are three weekends left; only two more games for the Blues, who have to knock over the Highlanders this weekend in Dunedin before a bye in the one following, and get a bit of luck from other results. And then, on August 16, in the very last game of the whole show, the Crusaders will come to town and Auckland, finally, will take back its place in the sun.
That would be the Sunday afternoon sun, springtime in August. My advice? Catch the Blues train for the footie game of the year.