The entire country of New Zealand is literally buzzing with the All Black’s victory in the Rugby World Cup! Our decision to stay in New Zealand through the end of the tournament was one of the best decisions we could have made. It’s thrilling to get caught up in the excitement of something like this!
The past six weeks have been full of rugby for us. We started the World Cup journey by watching the opening ceremony on television at Judy’s house the first night we arrived. I was amazed by the scope of the production. Fireworks and musical performances spanned the entire city. I was more impressed with this opening ceremony than I have been with opening ceremonies for the Olympics!
Friends from church in Hamilton invited us over to their place to watch New Zealand soundly beat Japan, then we ventured into the FanZone in downtown Hamilton to watch Wales trump Samoa on the big screen.
During our weekend trip to Auckland, France and New Zealand played an exciting game with the All Blacks coming out on top, then we attended our first live game at Eden Park! Check out our post on Fiji v. Samoa to watch the video of our experience.
The next weekend back in Hamilton, we went to the Cock & Bull pub with friends to watch Scotland play England. What made the night even more interesting was the rivalry between Carol Ann & Dom–a Scottish / English couple! Having Scottish heritage in my blood, I sided with Carol Ann and cheered for Scotland, who played a good game, while Drew felt bad for the outnumbered guys & rooted for England. But Scotland ultimately lost to England.
The following week were the quarter finals. We stuck around after night church to watch New Zealand play Argentina on the projector in the chapel. It was such a riot to hear everyone cheering so loudly at every try or penalty kick the All Blacks scored! We stayed up late the next night to watch France play Wales on television.
The semifinals were next. New Zealand was up against long time rival Australia. I think I was nervous for this game all week! We were invited to join others from church at someone’s flat to watch the game on his new big screen projector. We all cozied up under blankets on couches in the garage and cheered just as loudly as everyone else when the All Blacks beat Australia to secure a spot in the Finals!
And so it was France that New Zealand had to face in the Finals. The media were quick to call it 1987 all over again–the year of the very first Rugby World Cup, where the All Blacks faced France in their own country. They won that game, but haven’t even made it to the final game since then!
New Zealanders continue to back the All Blacks, even though the team hadn’t won the World Cup since the very first tournament 25 years ago. They are consistently called the best rugby team in the world, but up until now, they choked every time they made it close to the final game. The fact that New Zealand was the host country added extra pressure this year, but whatever it was that changed the game for the All Blacks this year, it was worth it!
The atmosphere in the city was supercharged last night as we joined tens of thousands of people in the city. The main FanZone at Queen’s Wharf was filled to capacity by 6:30p, as were most of the pubs, but we were able to join the crowds at Captain Cook wharf to see the action on the big screen.
I almost couldn’t handle the pressure of the last fifteen minutes of the match. The All Blacks were ahead by only one point and France had possession of the ball for the majority of those last moments. If they scored a try, a drop kick, or a penalty kick there probably wouldn’t have been time for the All Blacks to recover and score again. But Kiwis must have been praying like it was 1987, because we regained possession of the ball and ultimately won!
If you are in a rss/email reader & can’t see the video, click here to see the crowd after the All Blacks victory!
Fireworks exploded over the city as captain Richie McCaw accepted their prize in the official Cup ceremony.
Go the All Blacks! I’m pretty sure our Kiwi friends are proud to see that we have become All Blacks supporters–and we’re proud to be Backing Black!
View more pics of our Rugby World Cup experience on Facebook!