From Long Island to Redfern – The American Rabbit Returns

As our Rabbitohs prepare to take on the Sharks in Week 1 of the Finals, Rabbitohs US Reporter and proud Member, Jared Schnabl gives his American perspective on the Club and what it means to be red and green after returning to our shores again.

Every time I come to Sydney, to see my Rabbitohs, I have always come alone, and you would think that being 10,000 miles (16,000km) from home would be intimidating for a solo traveller. However, when you are a devoted supporter of the greatest footy team – nay the greatest sports team in all of Australia, and you hail from a country where footy is almost unheard of – pretty much everyone is your friend!

If there’s one thing that never ceases to amaze me, it is how kind and generous the people of Australia truly are, especially when it comes to professional sports. Being a Souths fan from New York has made me more friends in Australia than I could ever have dreamed of.

Most of them seem to know me well from social media and they make me feel like not just a fan, but like a Member of a huge Rabbitoh Family. And just like real rabbits, we’re a lovable bunch and our numbers are truly great. They don’t just hang out with me over a cold beer, but rather, these wily bunnies take me on all sorts of adventures throughout the land down under.   

Out on the Hawkesbury River, a Souths fan invites me into his boat and shows me around his home which is chock-full of antique Souths memorabilia. At Taronga Zoo, a group of school children cheer me when they see my jersey and hear my American accent. A footy artist from Bankstown takes me shopping and treats me to lunch.

 

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And whenever I come to Redfern Oval to see my Rabbitohs practice, I am greeted by a bevy of familiar faces that always save me a seat at the Café.  Apparently, the sight of an American Souths supporter, much less an American who follows footy, is such an oddity to them that they can’t help but strike up a conversation. In fact, I can’t even begin to recount how many times I have missed a train or been late for something because someone wanted to know why a Yank was wearing a Rabbitohs jumper.

The first Rabbitohs fan that I ever got to know personally was Bill Gotsis. A resident of the Western Suburbs in Schofields, Gotsis and I bonded over Twitter and Facebook over sports. I was a New York Giants fan who fell in love with Souths, and he was a life-long Rabbitohs Member who loved the Giants. Our cross-cultural paths met at ANZ Stadium in 2013, and we have been friends ever since. I eagerly anticipate his at the Meadowlands in New Jersey for his first Giants game.   

And of course, the thrill of being in The Burrow is always the main attraction  when I come over.  The roar of the crowd, the sheer physicality of the footy, the atmosphere of some of the most devoted fans on Earth, and being in the presence of Reggie Rabbit makes that nearly eternal flight all worth it!

I guess whenever I head back to America I leave a small part of myself in Sydney. Whenever I turn on a game and see The Burrow cheering and Reggie leading the team out onto the field, I smile. How could I not?! Between the friends I’ve made, the humble kindness of the players, and that feeling of family, I’ve never been more proud to call myself a Rabbitoh!

The Rabbitohs will take on the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks in Week 1 of the NRL Telstra Premiership Finals Series at Allianz Stadium this Sunday with kick-off slated for 4.10pm. Purchase your tickets!