Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 22 October 2014

Rugby World Cup lets Kiwis warm nature shine bright

The day after the weekend..for me, life is the opposite of most people’s working lives.

Monday morning after a hectic Saturday and Sunday at the World Cup is a chance to draw breath. For gee, it was hectic this last weekend.

Saturday I was at Eden Park, Auckland, early enough to watch the England v Romania game on TV. After that, I covered the New Zealand v France match.

The authorities say that the reason all these World Cup matches over here kick off at night is to maximise commercial value from breakfast time starts in the northern hemisphere. But from what I hear, I’m not even sure people over there like those morning kick-offs.

After Ireland’s great win over Australia the previous weekend, I heard from a friend in Dublin. “Great win but what a shame we couldn’t see it down at the pub” said someone. “The craic would have been unbelievable.”

I’m sure there must have been some bars open to serve breakfast with the rugby. But they were probably not serving the black stuff – too early in the day for that. And somehow, the rugby doesn’t seem to go down quite as well without a little drop of the black stuff to help it on its way.

So both hemispheres get the worst of both worlds. The north can’t see games with a pint in hand in the pubs. And down here in the south, we have to wait until 8.30 at night when the dew is down and the ball more slippery, to start. It isn’t very satisfactory.

In my case, once the game was finished, I sat through two press conferences. The losing team, in this case France, always comes through first.

Then you queue up for a bus to take you back to the North Shore, over the impressive Auckland Harbour Bridge, which gives you a superb view of t

So I was back at around midnight and started work for a couple of hours. This weekend, I needed to send stories or match reports to papers in Dublin, Belfast and South Africa. Bed by 0230

Up Sunday morning to write a considered report for the Monday morning papers in South Africa, giving my article a ‘Springbok’ angle.

Then on Sunday, I watched three games: Fiji v Samoa, Ireland v Russia and finally Argentina v Scotland. I finished work at midnight after that lot.

So on a bright and beautiful Monday morning, I jumped in the car and drove around 45 minutes north of Auckland to the beautiful Gulf Harbour area. I had two (non-rugby) interviews to do and was then entertained superbly by Gary and Fran at their lovely home overlooking the sea, a harbour and golf course.

They’re just ordinary Kiwis who have been so kind and hospitable to me since I met them on this trip. But then, they rather typify all New Zealanders. They’re superb people who genuinely welcome you and can’t do enough for you to make your stay memorable.

I’m sure this World Cup has brought together complete strangers who will now remain friends for life. Not too bad a sport that does that, is it?

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