As the Wigan Warriors banner proudly on display at Wollongong’s WIN Stadium on Saturday night read: “We came, we conquered, we ate all your pies”.
Wigan fans, or “pie eaters” as they are affectionately known, had plenty of reason to rejoice on Saturday.
Not only did they complete a win over arch rival Hull FC on the other side of the world, they did in in front of a crowd of over 12,000 fans in the first ever Super League clash held outside of the United Kingdom.
Among that crowd tally was thousands of English supporters who made the enormous journey to support their beloved team and take in all this great country has to offer.
There was a huge contingent of Hull fans who made up a sea of black and white in the northern grandstand.
The atmosphere in the stadium was electric. Those that where there will have lifelong memories.
The locals soaked in the atmosphere and spent as much time looking at the theatrics around the ground provided by the many, many sun-touched visitors as they did the action on it.
Hull was crippled by injuries early and Wigan controlled the game.
It was a fitting result for the powerful English league club which has invested so heavily in bringing this clash for premiership points to Wollongong.
It was an event which paid rich dividends in terms of exposure of the game of rugby league if not anything else.
Imagine the NRL deciding to take a game to the other side of the world and you get a sense of what a courageous and imaginative decision it was.
It’s the type of vision, passion and imagination the game needs to grow on an international level against huge competition from other sports for eyeballs and the corporate dollar.
To both UK clubs, Hull FC and Wigan, we thank you for choosing to make the Illawarra home for this week.
Hull has been completely embraced by the Kiama community and Wigan by Wollongong.
Take the stories and experiences you have had this week and shout them from the rooftops back home.
We hope you enjoyed your time in the Illawarra as much as we enjoyed having you.
And we are glad you enjoyed the pies.
Until next time ….