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Hanging out in NZ for two months and RWC 2011

Packman

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A couple of weeks ago we had the two year aniversary of the last RWC final. I was lucky enough to be down in NZ for the whole thing and when I got back I wrote this little journal of my experiences, because I had the time of my life!

Well that was fun! Serious fun! If any of you are musing over the idea of going to NZ for a holiday then WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR!?! Probably the friendliest, most laid back place on the planet. Great food, Excellent beer, Awesome pubs, Amazing scenery, loads and loads and loads of crazy stuff to do! I did the lot so I won’t bore you by listing it all. (Unless you ask me too of course!).

So what about the rugby? Well I was in Cardiff for the warm up game where we had like 78% possession and lost, and at the time I pretty much wrote England off and settled down to just have the best holiday I possibly could in a country I’d always wanted to visit. It was the best attitude I could have adopted because I had so much fun! I still went nuts for England every time they took to the field but I didn’t invest my heart and soul into believing they were going to win. Yes, we beat Ireland two weeks after the Cardiff debacle, but at the time I said that England always do the backlash thing and then promptly slip back into the usual bad habits. The Argentina match in Dunedin proved my point. Dunedin is a great place to hang out its full of 20 year old girls who’ve been let off the leash for the first time in their lives!, our fav pub was The Craft in the Octagon. The place was heaving after the games and they do an awesome seafood chowder. Oh and I got hooked on Montiefs winter ale. Its a pretty heavy pint but soooo tasty, I was gutted when they stopped selling it at the end of September and swapped to summer ale, which is a weird ginger and summer berries thing that is like the polar opposite to winter ale… luckily Montiefs Original ale is damn good too and there always Spates Gold Medal or the totally awesome Sassy Red!!!

Those first four weeks was brilliant! Okay we missed a few matches because we were driving from town to town, we missed about 60 minutes of the wales v sa game and the whole of Ireland v USA and the one I’m really gutted about is missing Tonga V France, I would have loved to have seen that game, but there were lots of cool matches I did see. Canada beating Tonga, Canada drawing with Japan, USA beating the crap outa Australia physically, if not winning the match. Ireland beating Australia! I was in the fan zone in Christchurch for that game. There were about 1000 fans and it was pretty cold night but it was still really funny. 999 of us were supporting Ireland and there was ONE Aussie in the crowd. Man did we give him hell!!! We did get a tiny aftershock in Christchurch (during the closing moments of Wales v SA) but that’s the shaky isles for ya. Nelson was a great night too, I think there were about three or four matches on that day and we found an awesome bar and just camped out getting more and more hammered and trying to order a Kleeburger from the waitress!

We were just doing figure of eights around the south island and ending up in Dunedin each Saturday in time for the England game. We were stopping at a backpackers in Dunedin called Hogworts which was a lovely place but unfortunately it was at the top of this enormous hill! When we got there for the 2nd visit, (Georgia v England) I ended up getting absolutely smashed out of my head on winter ales. It all started about 12pm when Mikey says lets go to the Spates Brewery for the guided tour! Cool! The tour ended in this bar with all the Spates beers and ales on tap and you get about 15 - 20 minutes to taste as much as you like as often as you like in the time allowed so we’re kinda like doing the conga around this room filling up our glasses whenever we got to the bar! Great fun!. Not having match tickets we said bye to those who did and got settled in at the Craft for the afternoon, It’s a shame because the new stadium at Dunedin is very cool! It’s a really good looking stadium and the roof is awesome. The rest of us watched Wales v Samoa, I thought the IRB stitched Samoa up by giving them only 4 days between their first game and the Wales match. These guys beat Australia in their own back yard, they ought to have been given the same sort of level playing field that SA and Wales were given and the RWC suffered because we were denied the chance to see a fair contest between two well matched opponents. The England match was fun, everyone was supporting the underdog but we won! Not a great win but we won! Then came the NZ v France and of course the place went into meltdown during the nz match! As I alluded to earlier Dunedin is a student city so it was just one big party! The all black machine was purring at the time. They were on another planet rugby wise because they were using rugby league attacking plays to break down the rugby league defensive systems that everyone was using. Its an obvious ploy really. Sure France were poor, but NZ were merciless it was like letting Tyson unload on a five year old. Everyone just went nuts in the pub, awesome atmosphere, Kiwis really do worry about the French. They are their bogey team, nobody was counting their eggs against the French that night so when the team absolutely thrashed them everyone just went ballistic! Hell of a night! We really were partying like it was 1999, I don’t know how the hell I got back up that mountain to Hogworts and into bed, but apparently it took most my mates to get me up the hill and then they had to unlock the door because I could get the key to work… (NZ keys are rubbish, I have spoken.) So yeah, living it large in NZ!

Kinda surprised that England had also decided to go on holiday and party like it was 1999! Maybe its just being in NZ! If you read the history books you’ll see the 1987 England team treated the NZ rwc as a glorified holiday as well. It is an amazing place, the best playground on earth! But its 2011, these guys are supposed to be professionals, not students having a weekend in Budapest (another great holiday that I recommend though!). At the time I just didn’t pay any attention., but regulars will know I’ve got more and more annoyed about it in recent weeks. At the time though we were going to get knocked out sooner or later so why stress over it. I didn’t spend a lot of time reading up on the rugby news, too busy rolling down hills in plastic balls filled with water and the like (Rotorua, North Island, DO IT! really funny and the only thing that made me slightly queasy despite the canyon swinging, sky diving, Americas cup yachting and getting mullered during “fishing†expeditions in Piahia). It is NZ though and they’re rugby nuts so it was impossible to turn on the radio or tv and not hear about Tindal in Queenstown or Haskell and friends in Dunedin. At the time this was bigger news than the container ship that had run aground on the north island! I did read this one article and the kiwi journalist was talking about Martin Johnson and everything he’s achieved in the game and how he’s this colossus of modern rugby and the journalist just couldn’t figure out how anyone could not respect him. How could these players behave in this way knowing its going to reflect badly on Johnno and tar him with the same brush, His conclusion was if you can’t respect Johnno then you are not much of a rugby player… or much of a human being. I tend to agree. These players were acting like 15 years olds out of an Inbetweeners movie. Yet they’re representing our country at a RWC. It was very easy for me to just leave England to it and just have fun in NZ.

The Fergburger: I love Queenstown. Later in the tour we had this little week long circuit where we left Christchurch for Queenstown, then should have gone to Franz Joseff (for the 2nd time) then Greymouth for the trans-alpine train back to Christchurch through the southern alps. Okay We’d already done the frans joseff heli-hike and it was brilliant, but after that why do the half day or full day hike? I’d also done the quad biking too so there was basically just horse trekking and I was down to do that in Glenorkey anyway. And as for the train trip… I can do that next time I go, or save it for when I’m 50 or something! It’s a train trip! We’d driven through the Southern Alps about 4 times by then anyway, So basically we drove Ryan at Haka tours nuts by missing the bus to Franz Joseff and just staying in Queenstown for the whole week and it was seriously awesome! I did the Nevis bungee and the Shotover Canyon Swing (twice), serious adrenalin rushes! Do it in the morning and you’ll be bouncing about like a nutter for the rest of the day! The Nevis is probably my biggest achievement, but the Shotover canyon swing is the most fun (but still scary) the guys on the canyon swing are so much fun, really great banter! Also did the Nevis swing which was cool, but Shotover rules.. Oh and if you wanna see why Fergburgers are served in heaven then check out this website http://www.fergburger.com/fullscreen.html These are the best burgers on planet earth. The Fergbaker also do awesome pies and the tall blonde girl who works there is a total goddess. I want to move to Queenstown, seduce Fergbaker Girl and eat free pies and make babies. Oh and hang out at the Pub On The Warf every night with fergbaker girl listening to the live bands every night, with big screens for the rugby and Sassy Red on tap!
(I’d also have a batch in Kiakoura so I can mess about in the sea as well.)

Back to the rugby, The last England match was against Scotland who’d just lost a really tight and very exciting match against the pumas! If Scotland beat us by 8 points I think we’d have been knocked out the cup there and then. I had Category A tickets to this game and Edin Park is a really cool rugby stadium I ended up sitting with a family from Auckland on my left who were supporting England (yes, England!) and a couple of middle aged women on my right from Rotorua who were staunchly pro Scotland, the banter was fun, and I went nuts waving my St George’s flag and yelling support at the top of my voice, and annoying the miserable South African behind us, who spent the whole game criticising England as loudly as he could while I jumped about apparently oblivious to his comment having the time of my life! We got a bit of a stuffing from Scotland to be honest! Their errors were keeping us in the game. Euan Murray proved that Matt Stevens is so over hyped as a scrummager it’s a complete joke. That’s a conclusion I came to after the game. At the time I just went nuts yelling England on and I was over the moon when we snuck it at the end. Did we deserve the win? It’s tough because Scotland didn’t take their chances and if they had, they’d have won it. Over 80minutes though they were the better side. So England limped on into the knock out stages. The ladies from Rotorua were brilliant, it was all about having fun and they took my photo with me waving my flag and looking back at it you can see the South African behind with a face like a bulldog chewing a wasp! So funny!

The quarterfinalists:

New Zealand – imperious in the pool games, slaughtering pretty much everyone with the exception of Tonga, but it was their first game and they had the whole opening ceremony nerves to contend with… NZ struggling with nerves… I wonder how that’ll pan out…

France – Jeez France! I’m gonna miss Lièvremont, he was great fun! Laporte had his erratic moments, ask Stuart Dickinson, but Marc is bananas, scrum half at 10? Well that worked well didn’t it. Especially as TransDuc had beaten the All Blacks in NZ a couple of seasons back!!!! I’m glad Tonga beat them, France don’t even try hard against the less established teams, they’ll do the absolute minimum to win and against Tonga they got thumped. Two losses and they still progress. I love that Canada beat Tonga, but it got France off the hook, then again if Tonga had beaten Canada would France have been so arrogant and lackadaisical? We’ll never know.

England - very physical, scraped past the pumas by putting some of their key men in hospital, but our defence was leaky, our attack was damn near non existent and with ball tampering allegations and players more interested in partying, they just didn;’t seem to be focused on the task in hand. The only bright point was that our quarter final opponents seemed to be in an even bigger mess than we were. We’d dodged the Kiwis which was a relief!

Argentina – they’d lost a few key players but they’d beaten Scotland and qualified. NZ were waiting for them and nobody gave them a hope in hell.

South Africa – I like SA anyway because they play a style of rugby that should make any Englishman smile and nod in appreciation. They looked like the only team that could hurt NZ because if their ball carrying forwards got momentum they could smash any team aside. We’d already seen as much in the tri nations when SA just steam-rollered over New Zealand. That Semi final was going to be the match of the tournament. I was already licking my lips in anticipation.

Wales – The defence that had stopped England in their tracks in Cardiff was present and correct but I was still a bit annoyed with the IRB for selling out Samoa. The Kiwis love the Welsh but I put that down to super 14 basketball rugby sensibilities. Yes they looked very pretty running in tries against Namibia but SA had beaten them and Samoa gave them a great match with only 4 days prep. I expected Ireland to thump them up front.

Ireland – Pool winners! I was tipping them as black sheep during and after the 6 nations, you put together a back row like theirs and throw in finishers like Tommy Bowe and a midfield like Sexton and BOD and leaders like O’Connell and you have a side that will go far. Then we had the warm up games followed by the USA match and it looked like Ireland were having an almighty brain fart! It all came good when they beat Aus though and then they started to play with believe! NZ / SA v Ireland final anybody? I thought it was a possibility.

Aus – A.K.A. “Not the face! Not the face!†As I said earlier, The Eagles just beat the crap out of Aus and when you let the likes of Heaslip and O’Brien loose on a bunch of pretty boys like Australia then its going to get messy, and FUN IF YOU’RE ENGLISH! Throughout the entire world cup campaign Aus just got thumped in the physicality stakes, The Boks were going to destroy them. I can’t wait for the next lions tour, Aus are going to have to find some real forwards in the next two years or the lions pack is going to maul them big time.

By this time I was pretty much based in Auckland for the weekends but that still left 5 / 6 days to explore the north island. Black water rafting Wiatomo with a SA amateur rugby team was hilarious! Sky diving above Lake Taupo 15000ft and a dvd where you get to pick your own soundtrack AND me buying my new favourite Hoodie! The skydiving was AWESOME! , Rotorua – Zorbing, swimming about in geo thermal spas, visiting geothermal parks and GRAVITY CANYON – my first canyon swing as it happened, not the last! Wellington (better night life to Auckland I thought, friendlier and warmer) we saw Shalk Berger in our fav Irish pub and wished him the best for the quarter final. He was just out having a quiet pint with a mate. Piahia – drunken fish feeding. What you do is drink lots of spates gold medal, put bait on a bit of string and the fish eat the bait and then you put another bit on the hook and feed another fish. Its cool, the suns out, the sea is beautiful and the ice box keeps the beer cold! We also went swimming in Piahia, the kiwis were looking at us like we’re mad, We’re like, “mate, you call this cold? Try the English channel!â€
Waitakere, - more beaches and rain forests, the coromandel. Beautiful, I carved a maori fish hook and gave it to a friend and he gave it back to me later in the tour. Never buy Maori gifts for yourself, even if you carved it yourself. If you do then apparently your hair turns purple and your nuts drop off. So let that be a warning to you! ;o)
It’s was only spring so we had the beaches almost to ourselves. Having said that, we also did Hot Water Beach which was packed. I didn’t even bother with the spade, it was more fun getting totally smashed by the 6 foot waves in the sea! Damn good exercise and waaaay more fun!

Then came the Quarter finals which were a case of surprise after surprise after… Actually, England going out wasn’t that big a shock.

There was no way I was going to be able to afford semi final or final tickets so I treated myself to Cat A tickets again and got an even better seat this time. We got to the stadium early to watch the Wales v Ireland match on the big screen and Wales scored from the kick off, great try, and it was the difference in the end. Ireland failed to take the Welsh defence into account. They thought they could steam roller Wales in the same way as they smashed Australia, but Australia are weak when it comes to the physical confrontation while defence is the strength of the Welsh game. Ireland basically played into Wales hands. Declan Kidney really misread the situation and paid the price.

The England game was a disaster but amusing, in a masochistic kinda way. You see when my mates went off to their own seats I started looking around and all I could see was French fans and more and more kept turning up until I was this little white spec in a sea of blue!!!! Then the match started and man did I ever cop some flak! I gave as much as I could back, belted out the national anthem and waved my flag at every opportunity (partly for support, partly to annoy the mouthy froggy b’stards behind me who were shouting that Jonny should go back to football (in English for my benefit! LOL). I was cheering on every big hit that England put in and there were a few early on but then France starting going wide and running past our defence at will! England game plan was to pass the ball to Manu Tuilgai and the watch on gormlessly hoping he’d score a solo try without any help. He did his very best 1 man vs 15 but it didn’t happen and the French were quick to point out that he wasn’t even English. “Who’s he?†says one, and the other replied as contemptuously as possible, Oh… he’s the Samoan…†So I cheerily say, “yeah, you don’t have much luck against south sea islanders, do ya. What was the score against Tonga again mon ami?†It’s hard to give as good as you get though when the French are like 16 – 0 up or something though, no matter how many Viva L’Anglaise you yell and believe me, I was yelling for every single tiny thing that went our way! Then with a few minutes on the clock we scored a try and got within 7 points. I knew it was over but it was funny to see all the French shut the hell up and get worried. I haven’t a clue why, ‘cept that maybe they were so traumatised from the thumpings handed out by NZ and Tonga they just didn’t have much confidence in their side. Anyway, we lost and that was the end of England and to be honest I think we were lucky to get that far. At least the players would leave the country now, so there shouldn’t be anymore cringe worthy headlines of players acting like A-holes. At least that’s what I thought, cue the next day and Manu Tuilagi, one of our best performers, cautioned for jumping off a ferry in Auckland harbour. What a way to go out on a high guys. That pretty much summed up the campaign in nut shell. At least he waited until we’d been knocked out before acting up I guess.

The next day SA played Aus. I’d done the Auckland Sky Tower Sky Jump by then and noticed the bar at the top of the tower and found out they were showing the Sunday QF’s! I promptly decided to watch the SA and NZ games at the top of the sky tower, awesome views, bar snacks and beer! Brilliant! Unfortunately the first game was a bit of a joke. SA were stitched up royally by some appalling refereeing. SA dominated Aus and Aus cheated like hell and the ref looked the other way and let them slow down Bok ball. Later in the tournament an Asian taxi driver reckoned the NZ v France final was fixed like the cricket. I don’t think it was but if you are naive and refuse to entertain the idea. That’s when there’s more chance that people are going to get away with it, and if you want to fix a rugby match then the surest way is to nobble the ref. It’s big business, there’s loads of money flying about so if you refuse to entertain the idea, then it’s going to be all the easier for it to creep into the game. One thing’s for sure SA losing this match was the biggest joke of the tournament and it robbed the rugby world of an incredible semi-final.

Then came NZ v Argentina, which everyone was expecting to be a car crash waiting to happen. Argentina were classy. Still without key players they held NZ and scored a storming try into the bargain. Between 2007 and 2011 the Pumas have not set the world alight, they got thumped by Scotland in their own back yard and there was that torrid test match against England in November 2009 where both sides absolutely stunk. So I think they surprised a few people, it really was the first time NZ didn’t get it all their own way and it makes you wonder who would’ve won a semi final between SA & NZ… Maybe the Kiwi ref who let Aus win was thinking the same thing…

A week later we had our week long trip to Queenstown. Queenstown is awesome. People say its too touristy I didn’t find it that commercialised. I guess it depends where you go and what you do. All I can say is that one of my favourite memories was padding down the Dart river surrounded by the southern alps and then discovering the Rock Burn Chasm with its incredibly deep crystal clear emerald green water and sheer cliff walls. Lake Wakatipu is beautiful, the weather (most of the time) was awesome. Queenstown has everything but the ocean, so it’s up to you what you get out of it. We caught the semi finals in Queenstown, and I’d decided to support NZ for the rest of the tournament because I was having such a blast in the country, you’d have to be pretty small minded to support someone else given how welcoming everyone was being, and anyway, who was I going to support out of Wales, France and Australia!?! HAHA! Nah I was more than happy to join in the fun with the locals. The Wales v France game was pretty good, all the locals wanted Wales to win. You speak to any kiwi and they love Wales because they throw it about in the backs. I think there’s also a underlying self belief in that they know that in a loose game the All Blacks will always score 1 more try than Wales, so they get great eye candy and know they’ll win. So you can imagine how annoyed they were when Warburton got sent off. I’m sure this issue been done to death, it certainly was in NZ and I’m sure it fired up the French for the final. I can add something to the mix though, I’ve been watching the Rugby League four nations over the last few weeks and there’s been 2 or three spear tackles equal to, or maybe slightly harder than the Warburton tackle and no one has batted an eyelid. I think it was unjust and lacked empathy but it wasn’t the worst decision of the day. The Nicholas Mas “penalty†on 75 minutes which if it had gone over would have given Wales the match when it was obviously a penalty TO FRANCE for Luke Charteris playing the ball while lying on the floor… It summed up Allan Roland’s day really and it would have been a joke if Wales had progressed given the way the French kicking game and defence kept them at arms reach for the entire match. So France got to the final. Now there’s someone to boo! France as world champions… Noooooooooooooooooooooo!

A day later it was a pretty wet and cold night in Queenstown but the red rock bar had a roaring fire, big screen, a fridge stocked with Montief’s winter ale!!!! RESULT! It’s not the biggest pub in Queentown but it’s the cosiest! And with NZ playing it was still packed and most people had a good view of the tv too! Without saying a word we all came up with a three tier “stand†with the front row sitting on wooden chairs, the second row sitting on bar stools and the last row standing behind them. It was quite impressive at the time and a few of us were looking around and nodding slightly to ourselves like, “check it out! How good are we?â€
Now most people would agree that an Australia v France World cup final is something bad people should have to watch in hell. So we were all really happy when NZ won the kicking duel thanks to some brilliant defensive play from Cory Jane. It’s funny that after all the talk about the 2007 RWC and all the ELV’s, when the S**t hits the fan, the kicking game decided so much in the knock out stages! Oz got out muscled AGAIN. They’re so far off the pace that it makes me laugh that people talk ‘em up.

And so we entered the final stretch of the New Zealand Rugby World Cup. I sadly said good bye to Queenstown at least until I win the lottery and can move in next door to Sam Neil or Shania Twain. I got the plane back to Christchurch for one last night at Haka Lodge Thanking Ryan for an awesome tour of NZ. Haka Tours rule! Then back to Auckland! I had left the accommodation a bit too late and there was nothing left in Auckland City. So Ryan found me a very smart Motel in Glendale a few miles north of Auckland. Yes it was a bit of a pain travelling back and forth into the city and by now all my mates had gone home so I was on my own and Glendale isn’t really a tourist spot to be honest, but even here the locals were so friendly. Even the drug pushers, (I’d just got the bus back to glendale and stopped off for a sandwich at a 24 hr convenience store. The Asian guy standing in the doorway looked both ways shiftily and asks “Hi, What can I get youâ€

“A sandwich please Mate!â€

He looked at me completely taken aback! “Sandwich? Oh, sorry, We don’t sell sandwiches, try the petrol station at the end of the road.â€

“Thanks buddy,†says I and wonders off to the petrol station

What can you say? Even the drug pushers are helpful in New Zealand!

Another more genuine story of the kindness of New Zealanders happened on the day I flew up from Christchurch to Auckland. It was the Bronze final night and things started to go pear shaped once I left the Auckland airport and got a taxi to my motel. The taxi driver was another Asian guy. I have to say the white New Zealand taxi drivers were the very best and most friendly and helpful taxi drivers I met, Fijian taxi drivers are just as good, Asians are okay but don’t always speak English and I have to say I had a couple of stinkers who didn’t know where they were going. Especially not good if you haven’t a clue where you are going either! Anyway my driver ended up dropping me next to an Undertakers, just north of the city. I was completely lost and only had about 90 minutes before the match started! OUCH! luckily there was a Fish and chip shop close by so I wondered in to try and get directions, immediately there’s four different Kiwis eager to help, and this is Auckland who get bum rap from the rest of NZ for being miserable and anti-social. They showed me exactly which bus stop to wait at, tell me exactly where to get off (next to the red rooster pub) and even help me get my suitcase on the bus! I’m not sure if you’d get that sort of help in London. I can’t say enough in praise of your typical friendly New Zealander.

Once I got off at the Red Rooster it was child’s play to find my motel and got I settled, but I couldn’t stomach another trip into Auckland so I decided to go back to the Red Rooster and catch the game there. The pub was full of real down to earth kiwis. Glendale is not a rich area in Auckland like I say its needs a bit of redevelopment so this was not your typical Irish pub in the middle of the city but all the locals were seriously chuft that this tourist had turned up to get a meal, drink a few pints and catch the rugby! They are such an open and friendly bunch of people and we had a blast! There was a Australian police man on holiday and we had great banter with him, Kiwis and English dude vs Oz, The kiwis were supporting Wales and I kinda supported them ish although I wasn’t bothered who won really, just interested in seeing hopefully a good match. The food was great, Spates Gold Medal Ale on tap. Laughs a plenty! And universal support for the all Blacks vs France. (and yes they were still going on about the warburton red card and how good a NZ v Wales final would have been!). It was a great night and the guys and gals at the Red Rooster made a big impression and I smile whenever I think of them.

Rugby-wise, Robbie Deans had learnt his lesson and Oz beat Wales simply by putting the ball in the right parts of the pitch and defending well. Wales ran the ball (union old school style) had loads of possession and went nowhere because you need a strong set piece and good kicking game to win world cups. Sorry basket ball rugby fans but you don’t have a clue really, do you.

And so to the final…

I lucked out as far as venues for the final go. There’s an Irish Pub a little way from Edin Park called the Dog’s Bollax with big screen and a brilliant live band called The Slacks who are awesome! I met a NZ group who invited me to share their table and their chips! (or chups to use the nz pronunciation) and we all cheered NZ horse and the celebrations afterwards were amazing!!!!

One of the reasons France played so well against England was that they got such flak and abuse for losing to Tonga. It happens to all teams, you get the backlash. I’m not sure if many England fans were counting their chickens, we knew we were playing bloody awful rugby, just we were winning and France weren’t! The thing is that the whole of NZ completely wrote off France in the run up to the RWC Final, they were more interested in bemoaning Wales’ luck and abusing Allan Rolland (I joined in there because I’ve never liked the guy either!) They wanted their Champaign basketball try fest rugby world cup final, which in hindsight cracks me up a bit. I will reiterate though that I really wanted NZ to win it. Lets face it you gotta love a country that had one of its biggest cities levelled by an earthquake, had their beautiful beaches covered in oil, Lost gas in the north island for two days because there’s been a landslip in Taranaki… yet still go round with a big grin on their faces because the All Blacks are doing alright! You’ve gotta love that spirit!

I’m getting ahead of myself though, France had been written off and they had all the motivation you could ask for. I think that if NZ had actually gone out and played with belief they’d had still won comfortably but they froze. Yes it was evident by then that the teams with the best kicking games were beating the sides who were trying to run the ball, but the thing is, only Oz and NZ were consistently running the ball in the right manner, everyone else, including Wales were still doing the one up ball carrier thing which is meat and drink to rugby league defences. NZ didn’t back themselves in that final and if the ref had come from the northern hemisphere they’d have lost. I’m really glad they didn’t though. Joking aside they’ve had a real evil time of it this year so it couldn’t have happened to a nicer bunch of people. Kiwi’s rock. They really are nice people. We were in Piahia one night playing Pool and this group of the biggest hardest looking Maori you have ever seen roll in to the pub and one of the guys sticks a dollar coin on the pool table and then gives us the biggest grin and says “You wanna play doubles mate?†of course we did! It was brilliant!

You see A lot of us just know the kiwi types who write on message boards and message boards promote you to be hard ass miserable git at the best of times. (some would say It’s half the fun), but you talk to any of us in real life and we’re way more polite and tolerant. It’s just the nature of message boards that people feel they really must win EVERY Argument and any different point of view must be stamped out and shouted down as if a lost argument somehow demeans their manhood. (been there done that, can’t be bothered with it anymore, message boards are supposed to be fun, so enjoy! That’s why I don’t get too involved unless the other guy is a real ass.)
Anyway, NZ did win the RWC, and they deserved it overall. I have no doubt that on their day they could have slaughtered any rugby team in the world. That match against France in the pool stages said it all. They were on fire that night. Sure they can freak out and freeze but the smart coaches will be taking notes and if people start copying the All Black game plan then the rugby world will be a lot richer for it.

So was it worth the obscene amount of money, scrimping and saving for 18 months and still having to pay off my credit cards for the next 16 months? (thanks, interest free Barkley card platinum)

YES! I cannot recommend New Zealand highly enough. Even the radio stations are better, I love The Rock, it’s a proper hard rock radio station its refreshing non pc., you can get their breakfast show from 7pm on the web http://www.therock.net.nz/ and its very funny, laid back, hilariously non pc. Full of classic Iron Maiden, ACDC, Marilyn Manson and Foo Fighters! 24 hours a day of hard rock! We’ve never had anything like that, not even in the 80’s!!!
The scenery is amazing. I love the south island, its colder but it’s a total blast and the mountains, sea and lakes are awesome. The north island is more civilised which not as much fun. It’s warmer, and has more holiday style beaches, its a softer lifestyle and the one your wife / girlfriend will prefer. It has my favourite city though, Wellington. While Auckland is cool and it has my favourite shop (Groovy Sounds – record store) it’s a big city and even though I live in Plymouth I don’t like big cities. (yeah I’m sure there people in London and Manchester laughing at me but if I find Plymouth busy, you can see why I love the south island’s small town appeal.) Rotorua is the north islands answer to Queenstown but Queenstown rules. If I win the lottery on Saturday I’m off to Queenstown. For me the rugby world cup was an excuse to visit a country I’ve always felt that I’d like, and I did like it. I love NZ and New Zealanders to death!
 

FlukeArtist

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Jul 15, 2010
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Blues

Packman,
You should get in touch with Tourism NZ - they might pay you for that piece of writing!
 

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