Rugby World Cup Celebrations

The 2011 Rugby World Cup comes to a close. Auckland will certainly be a bit quieter here on out. It was quite sad to see the huge rugby ball on Quay St being deflated!

The All Blacks celebrated their win with a ticker tape parade down Queen St and will continue to show off the cup in Wellington and then Christchurch. Well done!

New Zealand All Blacks Win the Rugby World Cup 2011!!

The All Blacks head to Eden Park to win the cup!

The night the country had been waiting for, a well-deserved victory for New Zealand rugby players and fans alike! I was fortunate to arrive at the hotel in time to see the team bus and the motorcade of motorcycles and security heading out to Eden Park.

The France supporters take refuge at the French restaurant on the corner!

A met up with friends at Glen’s apartment on K Rd and worked my way through throngs of rugby fans making their way to Eden Park for the final game of the Rugby World Cup 2011.

Fans making their way down K Rd towards Eden Park, flooding both sides of the street

I headed down Queen St and through Aotea Square, where the tiny band of Occupy Queen St protesters were stationed. The postered area seemed quiet, as I’m sure most of the activists were more interested in the rugby.

Occupy Queen St... after the Rugby

The entirety of lower Queen St was closed off in anticipation of the festivities. The New Zealand flag flew proudly between the buildings in Auckland’s CBD as hundreds of decorated and face-painted fans hooted and hollered in support of their team and their country!

New Zealand's Flag Reins over Queen St

The entire city felt like a massive all night party. I can’t imagine mardi gras being larger than an event like this! The excitement and unity of the people of this nation, the ex-patriots, the visitors and tourists is why I came to New Zealand during the world cup.

One huge party in the streets of Auckland!

The match was nerve-wrackingly close! It was anyone’s game until the whistle was blown. We all believed the All Blacks would win, but at this moment it was for certain. New Zealand beat France 8-7.

Joining the biggest party of my life!

We won we won we won!!! Go New Zealand!!!

Bronze Final @ Eden Park

On Friday 21st October I ceremoniously made my way with Donna and Ken to my first live rugby match at Eden Park in Auckland, New Zealand. Although Australia and Wales were competing for 3rd place in the World Cup and not for advancement in the tournament it was still an exciting match, and exciting for me to see a live match against two top teams!

Bus to Eden Park

I would have liked to walk to Eden Park from Quay St along the Fan Trail but given my medical condition it wouldn’t have been advisable!I met up with Donna and Ken and we took one of the free buses up to the stadium. Bus after bus heading up to the stadium was filled with excited fans. ________ ___________ ______________________ ____________________ ________________

The crowd enjoying the night outside of Eden Park Stadium!

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Sports fans made their way towards the stadium, stopping to listen to live music and performances along the way. Most people were dressed up with face paint, team jerseys and national flags.

Ken, Donna, Anna

Making my way up the make-shift staircase to my D section seats!

_____________ _______________ ______________ ____________ My friends and I sat on almost complete opposite sides of the stadium and I made my way around the perimeter to the N entrance, up the steps and to my nosebleed seats at the top of the stadium!

I'm at a Rugby World Cup 2011 game!!!

The great thing about the D section seats is they are at the far end of the field and have a spectacular view with no obstructions. My ticket cost me $97 plus a booking fee, but well worth it to be part of the action!

The players take the field!

_____________ ___________________________ In the Bronze Final the two teams that lose the semi final games compete for third place in the World Cup. Most rugby fans, especially kiwis, felt that the All Blacks’ win over Australia had decided the fate of the tournament, but it’s not over yet!

National Anthems of Australia and Wales

_____________ _______________ ___________________________ The match commenced after the singing of the National Anthems of Australia and Wales. Since I have many Australian friends and only two Welsh friends I had intended to cheer for Australia but when I arrived at the stadium I ended up going for Wales!

Where the magic happens: Eden Park in Auckland!

_____________ _______________ _____________ _______________ ___________________________ The fans were cheering and animated, but the it felt so silent without the constant commentary on the television! Without breaks in play the stadium is unable to play music to amp up the crowd unless a player gets injured and they need to stop the clock. If it’s a minor injury play will continue while medics treat the player.

An exciting Game!

_____________ _______________ ___________________________ Despite the lack of cheerleaders, half time shows, or any frills that American sports normally have, the fans did a pretty good wave, which made it around Eden Park at least twice! Most people around my seat were cheering for Wales. Kiwis tend to be supporters of the underdog, or any team going up against Australia!

The Wallabies Accept their Bronze Medals

_____________ _______________ _______________ ___________________________ The action was a bit quiet during the second half but became more thrilling at the final minutes when Wales scored a try at the last moment. Regardless, Australia had won the game!

Returning to Britomart Train Station

We took the train back to Britomart Station. Both tracks were used for traffic going to the CBD, and still there were enormous lines!

Weekend of the Semi Finals

Last night in Auckland the French team beat Wales 9-8 and tonight the All Blacks face Australia, a long-time rival. Both kiwis and aussies are fired up for the match, which starts at 9pm tonight. Right now I am enjoying a green tea in the lobby of the hotel where the All Blacks are having dinner and are about to head to Eden Park.

The sun is shining and the city is a surge of excitement. Along Queen St and the Wharf it seems to be a competition of who can make the most noise today! The energy this weekend has been building since Friday. Yesterday just after noon I joined the team from Dance Pro Studios for their flash mob by the viaduct.

On Friday Brian and I took a trip to Waiheke Island for some wine tasting and some of the Wallabies were on our morning ferry. As we exited the dock a group of them asked me to take some photos with their friends. If I had been a bit faster on the ball I should have asked them if they needed a photographer for the day! Life is never boring here!

Casual Thursday in Auckland

I always love swimming laps, especially in the same pool as the All Blacks. Just a casual Thursday evening… not a bad consolation for not being able to go on vacation this week. The car broke down, my leg broke down, and there was an oil spill off the coast of our destination earlier this week… but staying in Auckland has never been more fun.

Tonight I made Indian-spice lentil soup with fresh coriander and veggies. Last night it was veggie quinoa with white fish. I can feel my body healing and regulating nicely after a week of home-cooked meals. The street vendor Indian food at the festival on Sunday was delightful and exotic but eating out has taken its toll on my body.

Today began with an onslaught of rain which began to clear after my morning stretches. What do overly athletic people do in the rain? We go shopping at sporting goods stores. Kathmandu on Queen St is having a huge sale, 50% off on most biking and hiking items, and I was tempted to purchase biking gloves and some very comfortable hiking shoes, but decided against it until my body is well enough to use them! I decided on a fold-up backpack, a plastic drink bottle with a cute New Zealand logo to replace my Sundance nalgene bottle that was lost at the airport, and a small quick-dry towel that was on clearance for only $3. I’m also tempted to hook myself up with a sleeping bag for $100 and a self-inflating pad for $50, giving me a whole sleeping setup for $150NZD!

My culinary life has taken a turn for the better, especially after exploring the Asian supermarket across the street, which has a supply of Indian, Korean, Japanese, Chinese and other specialty food staples, frozen goods, spices, drinks and treats. I also tried what I now call the “All Black Special” for my afternoon tea. Since the team is unable to drink alcohol they spend their time in the hotel lobby enjoying green tea with honey and milk. If it’s good enough for world-class athletes it’s good enough for me, especially as a tea-lover!

RWC

Status

Australian and Irish flags and uniforms fill the streets as tourists and Rugby enthusiasts┬ámake their way around Auckland’s CBD. The game starts at 8:30pm in Eden Park. It will be a fun and lively night – exciting times in Auckland, especially after New Zealand’s 83-7 win over Japan last night!