Who's Your Daddy?
There are two reasons why I’m a diehard Auckland Rugby fan.
by Cam Schuster I 24 March 2023
The first is I was born and raised in the City of Sails, Auckland is my city, West Auckland is my home, I love this town, and my unwavering support extends to all sports teams who represent this great Metropolis. (Warriors and Breakers are not included until they drop NZ and rep Auckland like they suppose to) The second was my parents being fanatic sports fans which influenced my younger self and when my old man took me to an NPC match at Eden Park in the late eighties to watch Michael Jones, Joe Stanley, Peter Fats, and Co run riot on Otago and every other team scheduled to challenge the mighty blue and white hoops. Those were the days, the golden years of Auckland rugby, the years the country shouted “You Are!” when Auckland asked, “Who’s your Daddy?”
Before the professional era, Auckland dominated New Zealand rugby winning 10 NPC championship titles between 1980 and 1995 which includes 1 back-to-back (1984-85), and 2 four-peats (1987-90, 1993-96). During this time Canterbury has only one championship (1983). 1996 marked the beginning of professional rugby in New Zealand. It was business as usual for the Auckland-based team the Blues winning the inaugural Super Rugby season and the season after.
Super Rugby 1998 saw the upstart Canterbury Crusaders meet the Blues in the final at Eden Park and come away with a win. Not so much a passing but a taking of the torch. There’s a new Daddy in town and the Auckland faithful didn't even know it. The sleeping giant woke and the Crusaders would move on to become the most winningest team in Super Rugby history with 11 official titles in the cabinet. (not including the asterisk seasons Super Rugby Aotearoa and Trans-Tasman, which sucks because the Blues are Trans-Tasman Champions - I would take that) The country shouted, “We know!” Auckland moaned “You Are!” when Christchurch asked, “Who’s your Daddy?”
It's Saturday, 18th March 2023, gameday, the game marked off in every sports calendar, the game that matters most outside of the finals. It's Blues versus Crusaders baby and there’s no other show in town ( I mean, of course, there were other shows in town somewhere, but who cares? You get my drift) I’m sitting at home on the couch at 6:50 pm, got my snacks and my jersey on, last years final a distant memory, and feeling contradictory like I always do before these games -
I’m Anxious: The Blues HAVE to win otherwise I’ll get fucking mad.
I’m Confident: The Blues WILL kill them otherwise I’ll get fucking mad.
Forward to full-time whistle: Crusaders 34, Blues 28: I get fucking mad.
What is it about this rivalry that gets fans so hyped and bloodthirsty? Is it the contrasting colours red and blue like hot and cold, like the political parties Labour and National, right wing vs left wing? Is it geographical, the largest city on the North Island vs the largest city on the South Island? Is it demographics, the urban multi-cultural communities of the big smoke in the North vs the European majority, farming background of the South? Or is Christchurch vs Auckland just a thing like Coke vs Pepsi? These adverse attributes are indeed fuel to harness the greatest rivalries in sport although the Blues have not been on par with the Crusaders since beating them in the final of 2003. The rivalry would feel dormant for the next 16 years.
Here are the horror stats for Blues fans, in the last 8 years, they have played 14 games with the Blues winning only 1 of those games last year in Christchurch, and the first win there since 2004. Yes, that game where King Carlos destroyed and whipped the finger to the Cantab crowd in the stands after strolling (literally) into the corner for the nail in the coffin try - you see, it's these kinds of antics that nurture a traditional sporting rivalry.
The history is there, the Blues have turned a corner and are now championship contenders, the Leon MacDonald era has already secured a one and only Trans-Tasman competition trophy, and viola: old rivalry re-ignited (If anything says who Daddy is, its the fact Blues coach Leon MacDonald was an ex-Cantab / Crusader, go figure) play Ironic by Alanis Morissette.
But alas, another year, another Super Rugby Season, another Blues replica jersey, and another loss to the Crusaders on home ground. The Garden of Eden has been a fortress for the All Blacks but has not been too kind to the Blues. To get back on top the Blues will face an uphill battle, looking down at them will be a Chiefs outfit on form, injuries to RTS and Alex Hodgman plus those damn AB resting protocols. All good, we roll on. The Championship is not guaranteed and there are no Daddys around here right now unless you're Jerome Luai.