All Blacks vs Ireland half time performance 2022

With an audience of 37,000 that we could see, and a few more at home that we couldn’t…

Wellington Batucada performing at half time, All Blacks vs Ireland 2022

It’s the middle of winter. It’s very cold. We’re playing at night. I’m wearing two vests, two t-shirts, two pairs of leggings and a long skirt underneath my summer Batucada uniform.

But what total fun! A brilliant experience, and well worth braving the cold for (and we were super-hot!).

Wellington Batucada team photo after the All Blacks gig

The run-through

An equally cold run-through on the field the previous evening had given us a clear idea of what to expect.

After a bit of a wait backstage in the green room we had been led around the outside of the stadium (freezing!) to the players’ tunnel, where we waited for another 10 or 20 minutes and watched a very cool Māori/Pacifica dance group do their run-throughs – in bare feet on wet grass. Crikey.

Our very friendly and helpful minders then led us along the edge of the field (don’t step on the white lines!!) to the halfway point, and then we walked onto the pitch, right to the very centre, and a bit beyond.

We realised there was a kind of corral of microphones already set up, into which we walked so that we were surrounded on three sides – and then just for good measure they added a couple more on the ground right in front of us. Excellent! No pressure then.

We got two goes at playing our set through from start to finish (all five minutes of it!) so they could adjust the mics and check the sound levels. The second go was most definitely better than the first, which is always… interesting.

You acknowledge quietly to yourself that we won’t get that luxury tomorrow – we have to nail it first time, from a standing start, with no warm-up at all.

After we finished our run through and had gone our separate ways I walked home in the rain, hoping that the weather would be a little more clement the following night…

Wellington Batucada @ All Blacks v Ireland, Sky Stadium
Video by Tommy Etuata

The gig

…and it was! A beautiful clear crisp (freezing cold) night, with not a breath of wind nor a single raindrop. Perfect!

The Sky Stadium was filled to capacity with a mixture of slightly worried All Blacks fans and wildly excited Ireland supporters. At the 10-minutes-to-go mark our lovely minders took us on the long cold walk around the outside of the stadium once more, to gather in the tunnel ready to get out there and play during the half-time break.

Of course they never take you out there with just a minute to go – that would be living far too close to the edge – so the 10 minutes stretched to 15 or more with injury time and then a seven-minute ad before our bit. Glad I wore my coat and we had a big empty drum bag to chuck all the extra clothing into before we went on.

Tam player Carin was waiting for us in the tunnel when we got there – she had tickets to the game and had been escorted down to join us. She told us the news that the ABs were not winning, and as we waited to go on, the Irish scored about 50 more points, so by the time it was our turn to play they were not winning by quite a lot more. Oh dear.

Never mind! Show must go on and all that.

Off we went, coats doffed (aargh! freezing!) along the edge of the field and onto the pitch, over the very slippery giant black logo now painted in the centre, and to our allotted places within the nest of microphones.

The man in the sparkly gold suit introduces us, we look up to see our name in huge letters on the big screen, our director Darryn blows his whistle and drums the intro call – and we are off and playing!

The next five minutes is something of a blur, I must admit.

We drummed, we danced, Darryn blew his whistle and signalled at us from time to time, at various points we changed patterns and rhythms and inserted funky breaks and bridges – and then it was over and we were walking off again, waving to the crowd as we went (who waved back and applauded, which was very nice).

No-one messed up, we didn’t faint or trip up or forget to stop playing or miss our cues to start up again, and we basically NAILED IT from the standing start, just like we all hoped we would.

Go us.

Following the St James gig a couple of weeks ago, this is only our second public performance of 2022, and I think it’s probably the biggest audience we’ve ever had – so it was slightly more nerve-racking than normal, and definitely higher stakes for us. But hey – as Dazzer said afterwards – we’ve been practicing this stuff for ages, so no sweat – really.

Wellington Batucada Half Time Performance @ ABs v Ireland (unedited footage)
Video by Tommy Etuata

The TV coverage

Afterwards, some of us headed off to the pub to watch the end of the game, and others headed home.

I went home and watched the game recorded on MySky, not knowing the final score. I had been pretty certain that we would NOT be on TV. I imagined they would switch to the ads the moment we came on, and return just as we were heading back down the tunnel, but lo and behold, suddenly en masse we’re parading across the field. “Oh bugger” I thought, “there we go, heading off after the show, I knew it!”.

And then – a miracle – you could hear our drums starting up in the background as the on-field commentators were doing their wee chat around the stand-up table – and then –

My ass - shot of the TV coverage by Jax DwayneOMG! There we are! Filmed from behind!

In full technicolour red-and-yellow-and-white glory, our rear ends moving gracefully from side to side in time with the rhythm of our drums. It was spectacular and lasted ooooh at least 10 seconds. Yay! We’re on the telly!

In terms of the game itself – well, perhaps the least said about that the better – except to offer our most hearty congratulations to Ireland, who played out of their skins and thoroughly deserved the win – both of this match and the series. Well done guys.

We’d like to thank the organisers for inviting us to play, our minders for minding us so beautifully, the TV editor for showing us in all our magnificence in between the ads, and a massive thanks to our own Gordo for doing a huge amount of work behind the scenes to make it happen. Thanks also, as always, to our wonderful committee and fabulous directors, and to all the drummers and dancers that make up this awesome family of performers. Nights like these remind me why I love being a member of Wellington Batucada.

As she was walking home afterwards, Melissa’s mate in Australia texted her the video she’d filmed off the TV – so we are now officially internationally famous.

Well, our backsides are, anyway.

Photo galleries

Photos by Tom Etuata and our official minder. Click on any thumbnail to see the larger version:

The run-through

The gig

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