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Published: September 11th 2011
This is what it's all about.
The last time the Rugby World Cup came to New Zealand I was at school, and was completely caught up in the excitement. I became a walking encyclopedia of all things rugby, and was even lucky enough to go to one of the games with my father and brothers. This time, the build up seemed to go on for ever, and about three weeks ago I thought I was over it before it began. But then finally it was game week, and the atmosphere and excitement in Auckland was catching. By Friday I was completely caught up in it again.
Auckland welcomed the world with a stunningly beautiful day - no clouds, no wind, just a gorgeous sunny spring day. There was real buzz in the city which had been building all week. This party was finally getting started!
Most of the businesses shut early, and along with my work colleagues I walked from the office to the viaduct to see some of the opening ceremony. Thousands and thousands of other people had the same idea, and although we left work at 3.00 pm, the city was already heaving at the seams. Somehow we got lucky, and managed to
find a balcony spot above all the madness, and got a spectacular view of the ceremonial wakas arriving. The atmosphere was electric.
There were activities all afternoon, and it wasn't possible to be in one spot and see everything. So we saw the wakas arrive, but could only hear the giant haka. Still spine tingling!
But things started to get a bit stressful for me...I was going to the game, but had to meet Campbell off the train from Ellerslie somehow so we could make our way together. Because of the sheer volume of people the phone networks crashed, so I spent over an hour trying every type of communication method I could, all to no avail, meanwhile Cam was doing the same thing, while waiting about 40 minutes for a train. Finally however, by some miracle, the phones worked and Campbell got a text through to say he was on the train and I headed to Britomart to meet him.
It was complete bedlam. There were massive queues to get into the station and I could see that it was going to be a long wait, and a cramped and uncomfortable journey. So Cam and I
It was a bit of a battle to get a spot, but we finally found a perfect viewing spot on the balcony at Kermadec.
made an executive decision to flag the train and to walk the "Fan Trail"
. We had previously discussed walking but it takes about an hour, so our plan was to train there and walk back. However at 5.00 pm all those carefully laid plans went right out the window, and deciding to flag the train and walk was easily one of the best decisions we made. As it happens, my apartment is half way along the Fan Trail, so we stopped for a convenient rest stop and some much needed liquid refreshment.
After a quick round of refreshments we were ready to face the madness again, and off we headed for Eden Park. No one would deny that K Road knows how to throw a party, but the festivities along Karangahape Road were amazing - dancing, music, drums, blaring horns - it was sensational. In fact I never knew that there were so many Tongans living here - it was a sea of red! The party atmosphere continued all the way to the game.
I was really impressed at how smoothly everything ran at Eden Park. Getting in and finding our seats was seamless. Eden Park itself had been
transformed and had a really great atmosphere.
The show itself was incredible and I was extremely grateful that some tickets had fallen into my lap a week earlier. I have to confess to being just a tiny bit jealous of all those who got to experience the fireworks extravaganza. Instead I had to make do with the video footage on NZ Herald
. Word of the day - Awesome!
The All Blacks put on a decent show and went on to win 41-10. All they have to do now is keep up that winning streak! Surely the Webb Ellis trophy can finally make its way back here. If not (perish the thought!) then New Zealand is definitely putting on a fantastic show to welcome the world.
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