This is Eden Park in Auckland. It’s a nice enough footy field. But it’s only a footy field.
So why is it such a graveyard for Aussie rugby dreams? What are they spraying on the turf that makes it so Wallaby repellent?
It’s 28 years since Australia beat the All Blacks on this ground, or at least it will be in a couple of weeks. On 6 September, to be precise. Not that anyone’s counting.
Twenty-eight years. By my reckoning, there are more than eight million Aussies who haven’t experienced an Eden Park win in their lifetime. That’s about 35 per cent of the population.
These are frightening numbers. Almost as scary as Saturday’s scoreline, which I’m not going to repeat because I have way too much Aussie pride.
We fancied our chances on Saturday, didn’t we? Go on, admit it. We’re Aussies, we always fancy our chances. But this time, the stirring in the gut was stronger than usual and we were pretty sure it wasn’t gastro.
We’d given the All Blacks a contest in the Bledisloe Cup opener in Sydney the week before. That was a game we could have, should have, won. We came to Auckland with our tails up.
In a strategic masterstroke, coach Ewen McKenzie booked the lads into a new hotel, instead of the one where they’d been crying into their pillows for 20-odd years.
We had it in the bag. What could go wrong?
We were handed our backsides on a plate, is what. Eighty minutes of hell and yet again Richie-bloody-McCaw was holding up the most ridiculously oversized trophy in world sport.
Twenty-eight years. It’s such a long way back, the photos of our last Eden Park win are in black and white. We didn’t have access to mobile phones and internet back then. We communicated instead by landline, homing pigeon or through two plastic cups and a piece of string.
We listened to music on cassette tapes. I remember frisbeeing Grace Jones’ Slave to the Rhythm out of the car window driving along Pittwater Road. Thirteen versions of the same song on the one album. See ya.
Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus hadn’t been born. They were happy times.
Twenty-eight years. It’s not natural. It’s so unnatural that people talk of an Eden Park hoodoo, of dark forces at play. Except Alan Jones, the man who coached the Wallabies to their last Eden Park victory before he started terrorising the airwaves on a daily basis.
“We haven’t won since because we haven’t been good enough,” Jones told the Sydney Morning Herald.
Not good enough? Don’t be bloody stupid, Alan. That can’t be it.
But now I think at last I’ve found the answer. I reckon this little contraption is to blame. Emitting a ‘unique ultrasonic sound’, it is used ‘to repel dogs, cats, deer, possums, wallabies, rodents, bats and other creatures.’
I bet that if you dug up Eden Park, you’d find thousands of these boxes pulsing away underground, upsetting the natural equilibrium not just of wallabies but springboks, pumas, lions and other assorted critters.
And if I’m wrong, well at least we’ve dug up Eden Park.