In a series of lighthearted emails back in January 2010 the excellent head at Woodford International School in Honiara, Solomon Islands said my little Brit daughters could only attend his school (for a week) if our whole family promised not to support New Zealand's 2011 Rugby World Cup bid.
Well, that seemed like a nobrainer.
I've never enjoyed rugby (or to be honest understood the scoring). If he wanted me to cheer for Oz's side (the one that hasn't won the rugby world cup for years...) then I was happy to do so.
But it's 9 September 2011 today and the Rugby World Cup has started - with New Zealand the hosts until 23 October. The host nation are apparently favourites, and haven't won top honours) (the Webb Ellis trophy since the inaugural game in 1987. This seems to be an advantage, they've certainly played the first half of their first game rather finely. But don't worry Greg, I was just looking at the Tonga team's red strip, and then couldn't resist watching both teams doing their fierce Polynesian war dances before the game kicked off.
And thanks to Greg I've realised that there are seven weeks of sport to enjoy and lots of the teams are from a long, long way away. I'm especially looking forward to the Fiji v Namibia game on Saturday (watch it on ITV 1, 4.30pm).
The picture above is more relevant than it might seem, it's a Pijin-language slogan Tshirt meaning we can do it together (tugetha iumi save duim) - which I took at Honiara's Lime Lounge during an annual award ceremony for Courageous Women. The Solomon Islands award was won by a woman who'd done a huge amount of surveying to discover that more than 60 per cent of women aged 15-49 had experienced domestic violence. This is a very high rate, and besides Papua New Guinea, one of the highest in the Pacific region. It's also shocking - it's dads, uncles, step fathers, grandparents, brothers and cousins who are hurting their wantoks (relations).
I've been sniffing around the internet finding out more about this and discovered a just published Amnesty International report that surveyed Solomon Islands women collecting water in an area of Honiara that is off-grid (actually it's off-grid for about 90 per cent of houses). During the day only two men went to the water pipe, everyone else was female. When the women were asked why the men weren't helping the answer was "They are playing sport or drinking kwaso (a potent homebrew)." Here is the Solomon Star link.
I guess seven weeks of sport is good for nation building and bad for a lot of non-sport mad partners. Especially the ones collecting water (and in my London home that probably includes washing up duty).
Anyway, enjoy the games. And if you have to collect water, do so safely...