Belfast Telegraph

The Northern Ireland Kiwis lining out to back All Blacks

Supporters here hopeful of World Cup win over Irish

Mark Reader with Ireland rugby coach Joe Schmidt
Mark Reader with Ireland rugby coach Joe Schmidt
Emma Campbell
Lyam Buchanan
Conna Nagle
Professor Sinclair Stockman
Zane and Gillian Lightfoot
Allan Preston

By Allan Preston

As the Ireland rugby team prepare for their do-or-die World Cup clash with the All Blacks, New Zealand natives now living in Northern Ireland remain confident of winning back bragging rights.

While Ireland went through the first 111 years of matches between the sides without tasting victory, they've now won two of the last three.

But Kiwis say the New Zealanders will be no pushover in Japan tomorrow.

Software designer Emma Campbell (25) from south Auckland moved to east Belfast after meeting her Co Tyrone-born boyfriend Aaron Down Under.

"New Zealand is going to have to beat Ireland for the sake of my relationship," she said.

"This will be only our second Ireland-New Zealand match. Our bet last time was that the loser had to wear the winner's jersey for the rest of the day. So, I actually had to wear the Irish jersey on our leaving day in New Zealand."

Judo instructor Zane Lightfoot (49) from Christchurch moved here in 2003 and soon met his wife Gillian from Saintfield. The couple now live in Comber, and Zane is hoping to complete a ministry with the Church of Ireland.

So assured is Zane of an All Blacks win this weekend, he's recording the match on TV as it clashes with his golf tee-off.

"I think the last win that Ireland had was against a slightly under-par All Blacks side," he said.

"This time they're well-rested and might just edge it."

Youth worker Mark Reader (44) from Taranaki moved to Ireland 13 years ago after meeting his wife Yvonne. He now lives in Donegal and works in Londonderry.

"My wife's from up here so that's how I ended up getting stuck here, like most of us," he said. "I would say you get the same good old twisted sense of humour here."

Looking to tomorrow, he expects to win "quite comfortably", but isn't above superstition, banning all Ireland supporters - including his wife - from the house.

Conna Nagle (37) from Wellington moved to Newry five years ago after meeting her husband David. She now runs a business selling hairpieces for women with hair loss. She said: "I think the All Blacks won't let Ireland win again but it definitely will be a good game."

Pharmaceutical researcher Lyam Buchanan (22) moved to Banbridge in March and predicts a comfortable New Zealand win.

"But I'm not putting all my eggs in one basket - Ireland could easily come back out and take it from us," he added. Bridging the gap between the two sides is Professor Sinclair Stockman (63), the honorary consul for New Zealand in Northern Ireland for the last three years.

Although he was born in Tobermore, his home in south Belfast has signed jerseys from both the All Blacks and Ireland proudly displayed on the wall.

"I think I have a special dispensation this weekend - I support the All Blacks except when they're playing Ireland," he laughed.

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