Glorious grass roots rugby
Let me guess…the last Kiwi-made movie you saw (if it wasn’t the brilliant What We Do In The Shadows, also available at the library) probably had a lot to do with small, hairy-footed people with swords, right?
Well, if you’re looking for another good Kiwi movie, perhaps one involving large, hairy, tattooed people all covered with mud, I’d recommend The Ground We Won, a documentary produced by Miriam Smith and directed by Christopher Prior. Ground follows the fortunes of a provincial rugby team consisting of Reporoa dairy farmers. They’re coming off the back of a terrible season of unrelenting thrashings, and dig deep to find success on the field in the new season, amidst the daily grind of milking, the high demands of calving and home life.
Despite all the bumf on the DVD cover, it’s a pretty simple premise…Ground is about provincial rugby, played by men who are working hard for their living in the New Zealand agricultural economy. It’s about their hard-working lives on the land, and how their hard work is continued out on the paddock every Saturday.
It doesn’t pull any punches, there’s binge-drinking aplenty, bawdy pranks, coarse language from down-to-earth Kiwi blokes…and all that awkward but endearing Kiwi male-bonding. Rugby players will love this film, but there’s plenty of amusement and education here for those who’ve never stepped onto a farm or a rugby field in their lives.
The Ground We Won is beautifully put together and photographed, emotionally involving and at times very funny…the viewer becomes well embroiled with these guys and their lives. Even if you’re indifferent to rugby, I’m sure you’ll enjoy Ground, it’s a great slice of Kiwi life. Most of us think that rugby isn’t a matter of life or death, but these men obviously believe it’s much more important than that!
Reviewed by Keith Smith