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Thursday, September 22, 2011

RWC 2011: United Nations Under an Oval Ball...

When the IRB awarded the 2011 Rugby World Cup to New Zealand, there were more than a few rugby fans who complained that by choosing the home of the All Blacks as the RWC venue, that it would be such an expensive plane ticket, that very few rugby fans would be able, or willing to make the trip. I guess it was understandable when you look at France 2007, geography played a big role in a record number of ticket sales for a Rugby World Cup. France was next to Italy, close to fans from the UK and Ireland, and a common destination for American, Canadian and Japanese Tourists.

On this current trip to Australia and New Zealand, I have spoken to rugby fans from the US, Canada, France, Argentina( A TON of Argies), Italy, Romania, Uruguay, Ireland, Australia, South Africa and the UK.  Add to that, there are a great many people living in New Zealand of Polynesian origin. In walking around Wellington, I have seen a good number of cars flying Fijian, Tongan and Samoan flags.
It has been great talking about rugby with fans from all over the world. Many of whom are very, very curious about the development of rugby in the US, where the participation numbers among high school aged kids and young woman have simply exploded. We are a long way yet from being able to seriously challenge the Tri Nations and Six Nations sides, but improvement is not impossible-just look at how Georgia and Japan have improved in the last 4 years. That said, I do think the Eagles are in for a serious beat-down at the hand of the Wallabies on Friday night.

This trip has had many highlights, but another great thing about this trip has been to finally meet some of my fellow rugby bloggers here in Kiwi-Land. On Thursday night, I was able to meet "Slugso", part of the writing duo with Ferdy at

It was great to have a few beers with him. Tonight, I am going to meet another Kiwi, Scotty, who does I am highly looking forward to meeting him, and Tom, a Canadian I have met via Facebook.

I should also add, that every tourist I have spoken with has had a story to underline just how wonderful of hosts the Kiwis are. At Mac's Bar on Taranaki Wharf, I spoke to a French rugby fan from Paris who spoke of how when he had run out of gas, a helpful Kiwi put him in his car, drove him to the nearest petrol station and drove him back to his car, and waited until the car restarted."That type of thing would never happen in Paris", he said.

The rest of the world might be going to hell in a handcart, but at least among rugby fans here in New Zealand, people seem to be showing what we can be capable of doing, as human beings.

1 comment:

  1. Isn't that just the beauty of rugby - on the pitch they'd half kill each other, at the end of the game and off the pitch they all have a common love, rugby - unlike any other sport. Enjoy that wonderful hospitality :)