Belfast Telegraph

Monday 21 April 2014

Peter Bills' World Cup blog: A late night after Ireland win

Ireland's Paul O'Connell celebrates after the IRB Rugby World Cup match at Eden Park, Auckland, New Zealand

A stunning performance by Ireland and an equally amazing one by their supporters; it was good to be green on Saturday night in Auckland.

When I finally left the ground just before midnight, no-one seemed in any great hurry to be off home. And most of those who had been at the match and had disappeared by then had headed for the bars and restaurants in nearby areas like Ponsonby and Herne Bay, in the Auckland suburbs.



These places were heaving as I went by. A pity I couldn’t join in the fun but with newspapers to file to in Belfast and Dublin, there was too much work to do. In the end, I finished writing at 3am!



It reminded me of the night in 2003 when England won the Rugby World Cup. I was staying at Coogee, one of the eastern suburbs in Sydney. The trouble with Sydney and rugby union is that most of the big matches are played out at Homebush, miles away from the city centre.



I suppose it would be the equivalent of Twickenham to London, although in this case the train out to Homebush, which was the 2000 Sydney Olympics stadium, seems to take ages.



Anyway, after hanging around for the two official press conferences and then seeking individual players for interviews, I didn’t leave the area until very late. After waiting for an age for a train I finally got back to Coogee at about 1.30am. I remember it was raining hard that night and I was dead lucky to get a taxi near the Central Station.



I had a load of work to do then, I remember, for papers all over the world. And I didn’t finish until 0430.

I thought then, great; England have won the World Cup. What do I do, where do I go to celebrate? Coogee had long since shut down for the night, nothing was happening there. I’d have had to get a cab into the centre of Sydney, but chances were most of the bars would have closed by then.



So to celebrate England winning the World Cup, I went to bed. It was a bit like that here in Auckland on Saturday night as I crawled wearily into bed at 0330.



I guess it’s everyone’s dream to be sent to cover a Rugby World Cup or indeed any World Cup, as part of your job. Expenses paid, and you get to see all the big matches. How good is that, I hear you say?



Sure, it is nice to be here. But you never forget, the No. 1 reason you have been sent is to work. No-one said, ‘Hey, why don’t you go down to New Zealand and have a 7-week long party. You’ll have a ball.’



It isn’t like that in the modern world. This isn’t a complaint by the way; it’s a statement of fact. You work hard, take the job seriously and take satisfaction from the fact that you’re doing a professional job. And I’m sure that goes for 99% of all the journalists who are here to cover the tournament.



This isn't a sympathy symphony but the fact is, we’re not here to play.



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