From rugby games to climbing bridges, Drake University sophomore Janelle Behnke has had many adventures studying abroad in Australia. Follow her semester as she recounts these escapades.
This past weekend we took a trip north to Brisbane, a larger city than the Gold Coast, with a population of about 2 million people. Our main reason for going was that the Gold Coast Titans were playing the Sydney Roosters in the semi-finals of the National Rugby League Championship. (This would be about equivalent to a division championship game in the NFL.) It was absolutely awesome. I didn’t know any rules at first, but we sat near some very patient gentlemen who helped us out.
For those who are rugby-challenged like me, here are the basics: The game consists of two 40-minute halves. Each team plays 15 players, each of whom specializes in a position (similar to American football).
The game is played on what is referred to as a pitch, and most stadiums are round. The object of the game is to throw or punt the ball down the field toward the opposing team’s goal line. Scoring is referred to as a “try,” and earns a team four points. You can also score a goal, which is worth two points, after scoring a try or if the other team has a penalty. A field goal is worth one point, and can be scored any time by dropping the ball on the ground and kicking it through the uprights.
In the end, the Titans lost… by a lot. But, it was by far the best $25 I have spent since I’ve been in Australia. Before and after the game, the whole street was filled with fans and vendors; it was a great atmosphere around the entire city.
Friday night I stayed at my first hostel. It was called Brisbane Backpackers Resort. Basically, we stayed in a large dorm that had a bed and shower. We were also shuttled around by a man dressed as Peter Pan, but I don’t think that is a common hostel experience.
Saturday morning we got up early and crossed the Brisbane River to Kangaroo Point where we did the Story Bridge climb. I am terrified of heights, but it wasn’t quite as horrifying as I had imagined. We had to wear one piece jumpsuits and belts with radios and ponchos. While we were climbing we were all latched to the bridge via a metal cord. We climbed to the top of the first peak, to the middle, across the bridge and back, for a total of 1,128 steps.
It was an amazing view of the city. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to take cameras or any other personal articles to the top (so they didn’t fall onto cars), but it is an experience I will never forget. The Story Bridge is actually one of only three in the world that you can climb, so it is quite a feat to say we have done one.
- Each team consists of 15 players. Eight players are forwards, similar to lineman and linebackers in American football, and seven players are backs, similar to running backs and wide receivers.
- The game was invented by William Webb Ellis of England in 1823. The sport was named after the school he attended, called Rugby School.
- Rugby is played at a nonstop pace, with two 40-minute halves. All players on the field can run, kick and pass the ball. The objective is to possess the ball and carry it to the other team’s end zone, much like a touchdown in football.
- There are Rugby World Cups, played every four years. In 2007, South Africa won the men’s cup in France. This past September, New Zealand won the women’s cup in England. New Zealand will be hosting 2011’s men’s cup, and the 2014 women’s cup location is still being decided.