However, my mind wasn't really on the game. I was just laughing about how different this was to the Bledisloe match held last October at Tokyo's National Stadium. The contrast between the two venues as well as the JRU and the ARU couldn't have been more stark.
While National Stadium holds just over 57,000 people with Etihad at about 54,000, that's where the similarities end. The JRU and National Stadium were clearly not prepared for a predominantly gaijin (foreign) crowd, made up mostly of Kiwis and Aussies, who like to eat - and drink.
In short, the stadium ran out of beer at half time and all other alcohol not long after. Food was also very scarce. What compounded the problem was the Japanese way of employing their honesty system when ordering drinks (Lesson No 1: Foreigners are not Japanese and when there is a chance to get free booze, they will exploit the system until it runs dry - literally). You paid for your order at one end of a counter, and then moved to the other end to collect your order - there was no communication between Japanese staff, so you simply told them what you paid for. Except, the international crowd very quickly caught onto this, and started paying for 2 beers and collecting - no joke - between 30 or 40 (Lesson No. 2: No limitless booze orders at sporting events involving large quantities of foreigners). Japanese staff were scrambling for boxes to put these orders in. I bet when the half time whistle blew, the Japanese Powers That Be wondered why they had run out of all forms of liquid but only had ¥2,000 in the til.
Also, for a land that runs on convenience machines, there was not a single one to be found inside the stadium grounds. This meant there was no water available anywhere - they didn't think to sell it through the bar either (Lesson No. 3: Always have a supply of water for the thirsty, drunk foreigners).
And in order to run things smoothly, the Japanese have to let go of being so Japanese (Lesson No. 4: Think outside the square and think about how you can whittle down the lines faster!). As usual, each Japanese person had their job and did not do anything outside it. So even though the queues for drinks and food were massive, the person who took the money only took the money. And even though there was no glass in sight anywhere, the Japanese insisted on pouring all beer and chu hi cans into plastic cups - although coke cans were handed out as they were. So one person asked you how many drinks you ordered. They then told the person who poured drinks into plastics cups. This person would then hand the poured drinks to another person whose sole purpose was to give them to another person who finally handed them back to you over the counter.
It was a long night. Really, if you wanted to watch any rugby, you had to forego drinks. And if you were thirsty, you had to forego the rugby.
JRU, you have a lot to learn before staging the RWC in 2019!!
Labels: Australia, Japan, Melbourne, Miss Riz, New Zealand, Rugby Rag, Sporty Stuff, The Transit Lounge, Tokyo