Match day 2. The game between NZ and Oz is being viewed as the Final because of how poor the French are. Fans here believe if they win this one its all over bar the shouting. The press believe that this France side are worse than the 2007 England side in being the worst ever to reach a final. The pre-mach build up is very different to a 6 Nations game. Even though the Australians have a huge reputation for drink, and the Kiwi’s who don’t, on match day they meet up with family and friends and have a long leisurely lunch with wine. Down by Viaduct Harbour, surrounded by millionaires playthings in the sun, the restaurants and bars are packed. It seems a million miles away from drink beer, watching a match, more beer and then floating a kebab on top. Probably in the cold February rain. I decided to do what the locals do, and went for a meal in a top fish restaurant Kermadec. Well actually the cheaper bistro version, but I turned right instead of left and ended up in the restaurant, and didn’t realise until the menu was put in front of me. Mind you,it was a good meal of John Dory, with lentils and caramelised fennel, served with new potatoes (hurray – no chips), with a ginger beer - £26 – instead of the more normal £16 meal. Bargain really, I think in the UK a similar meal would be £10 more expensive.
Talking of food, I blagged my way onto a trade show at the Harbour on Food Innovation (very geared around machinery and Functional foods, rather than new tastes). I ended up taking to someone who was an ex-colleague of someone I worked with at harper – small world the food industry – like a family at times. It would be great to stay in it when I finish.
I did the Auckland Bridge Climb (not as brave as G who bungied off it, after someone who’d got stuck and was dangling upside down for 20 minutes.) It’s a bit like the Sydney bridge climb, only smaller and stood on top – which is pretty brave for me, as I have a weird fear of bridges – something to do with the way the water moves underneath, while the bridge is still – I don’t get it on boats. There’s nothing as strange as me, as I’ve often been told.
When I got back Viaduct Harbour was rammed, mostly with people wearing black, as the neutrals tended to go with the home team. Can be easy wearing black on a warm sunny day – all that heat absorption. It’s a damned sight easy enjoying the warm up as a neutral, than worrying which France is going to turn up like the week before.
For those interested, The NZ press opinion of the Sam Warburton tackle was mixed – some thought yellow, most red, due to the strict IRB ruling which stopped Rolland acting with common sense, when it was apparent the French player wasn’t too badly hurt. Malice isn’t part of the decision making process, a spear or tip tackle is a straight red. Reagardless all agreed that it spolit the game and the wrong team won. (But 11 points went begging, even without the failed drop goals).
Mind you, that evening’s game was the best game of rugby so far. Backs that could run fast, pass and catch a ball – speed not power Johnno. The All Blacks were brilliant, and the Aussie backs also had chances – if only they could defend and scrum, then the result might have been closer. Marred only by me feeling crap from the first day of a cold – sore throat head ache and achy generally. I bet it was from the night before, when I was cold and wet, and someone sneezed on the train. Thanks stranger.
A sign seen at the game: Woodcock vsPocock – ours is harder.
Bridge Over Troubled Water – Simon and Garfunkel. How Wales must be feeling today. Because the Chair of Premiership Rugby Ltd apologised to the IRB for England players behaviour even though the RFU can’t/won’t. After a year of disasters for New Zealand – the earthquake and the Reno ship, the first stage of their healing process of feeling good again as a country. And because I walked over a bridge.