Match day. I woke up dreading a French revival. I drive W to the airport so I am now on my own. After parking the van up, I had to shift a French van off my spot. Little did I know that was the only time today, the French would get shifted.
I got the bus into Auckland, sitting by an old man in an England shirt. He had retired to NZ 8 years ago and was really loking forward to watching England play again. Little did he know. He was meeting up with some French men, he had played with in earlier years, and then met up in either Paris or HQ for a drink before le Crunch – lifelong friendships that cross the Equator. The French dressed as Musketeers. I saw them later on, on Viaduct Wharf, whilst a French jazz band from the Basque region played and sung songs – fantastic atmosphere. They looked very elegant as mature versions of Aramis, Porthos et al. They had their photo taken with Nick Mallet, who fro the 15 feet away I was looked like George Clooney. (He’s now out of work – a thought for the RFU perhaps? And one for us ladies, when England don’t play well. (He was born in London, therefore is English enough for me.)
I had walked through Auckland to a Photography exhibition past a poster of Dan Carter in underwear. The New Zealanders may have got over His groin, but I think the rest of us ladies are still fixated on it, (and his pecs). The quarter final wasn’t the only event on in Auckland this weekend. Indian ex-pats were celebrating Diwahli, which addd to the party atmosphere, with singing and dancing, and also food. For rugby fans, beer match, beer, curry seems strangely familiar for a Saturday. PS – in case you are wondering – still tee total – the atmosphere doesn’t need enhancing for me.
I went up to Eden Park to watch the Wales Ireland game from virtually the top of the temporary stand. (nearest I’ll get to the Olympics – the next destination for the seats). Ronan and O’Connell went missing again in big matches, whilst Wales delivered big time. I don’t want to take anything away from the French, who sadly delivered on my worst fears, by the best 20 minutes they’ve played all tournament. Johnno – picking 7 locks didn’t work, especially they didn’t do their prime role in the team – win lineout and lock the scrum, which looked weak, even without Stevens penalties. Out of this debacle (they haven’t played well all tournament and Johnno didn’t bring players to change things), I would like the coaching team to go en bloc, and real young Englishmen picked rather than ageing journeymen from the South. (Tuilagi excepted as he came through England age groups, and has added something to the team).
At 21 he was the go to man – in fact the only plan we seemed to have, and was doing what we needed Croft, and Easter to do – run straight, instead of shovelling it along the line to isolate one or the other of the wingers who had no space to work in. If I can see it (from game 1, at this game nearly 100 yards away from the action, why couldn’t our coaches?) Why did we constrain our two dangerous runners, foden and Ashton to textbook positional roles?
At least it didn’t rain, I got some brilliant travel tips for Bay of Islands, and got back from the free bus at a reasonable hour. I can relax and enjoy the rest of the tournament now, but I still think at the back of my mind, if only Cipriani wasn’t an idiot, JSD and Tait injury free, and Guest not Easter playing regularly for Quins, if only Saracens players weren’t pariahs (Barrit, Strettle, Saull, Goode). I hope New Zealand win it, it matters so much to them, it hurts.
Ain’t that a shame – Fats Domino, dedicated to Johnno for the line ‘You’re the one to Blame’.