World Cup fever grips NZ

2011-10-03 12:48

Wellington - New Zealand has enthusiastically embraced the Rugby World Cup, making good on its promise to create "a stadium of four million" when it won the right to host the tournament in 2005.

As the rugby showcase heads into the knockout phase, organisers will be pleased with the packed stadiums seen during the pool stages of the largest event ever staged in New Zealand.

Fears the country's infrastructure could not cope with the world's third largest sporting event have so far proved unfounded and the rugby-mad New Zealand public have combined with some 95 000 overseas fans to create a festival atmosphere.

"IRB (International Rugby Board) officials have been telling me that this is arguably the best World Cup they've been to," Prime Minister John Key said last week.

"New Zealanders right across the country are being tremendous hosts and because New Zealand loves rugby, that's just manifested itself in a lot of New Zealanders who want to engage with the tourists that are here."

Cup fever has not only gripped large cities such as Auckland and Wellington, but also small communities such as Wairarapa and Te Puke, which adopted "minnow" nations like Georgia and Namibia, decking streets in flags and bunting.

The major organisational hiccup came at the opening ceremony on September 9, when the sheer volume of people wanting to soak up the atmosphere in central Auckland swamped the city's public transport system.

The government says these have been fixed and there will be no repeat of the transport chaos surrounding Auckland's Eden Park, the venue for two quarter finals, both semis and the final on October 23.

Inevitably, however, there have been gripes, including complaints from Scotland fans that heavy-handed officials were ruining the atmosphere at their games by banning spectators from playing the bagpipes.

Some Australian supporters also reported being jostled and spat upon by New Zealanders, prompting an appeal from tournament chief Martin Snedden for locals to keep trans-Tasman rivalries civil.

The IRB is also likely to examine the match schedule at future tournaments after dissatisfaction among smaller nations about short turnaround times between their games.

The most outspoken critic of the World Cup timetable was Samoan centre Eliota Sapolu Fuimaono, who likened the IRB's treatment of minnow nations to slavery and the Holocaust.

He escaped punishment for that outburst on Twitter but will face an IRB misconduct hearing over another rant in which he accused referee Nigel Owens of racism after Samoa's 13-5 loss to South Africa last Friday.

Internal divisions in the French camp also made headlines, while England centre Mike Tindall's boozy night out with a mystery blonde - less than two months after he married Queen Elizabeth's granddaughter Zara Phillips - sparked a tabloid frenzy.

Off the field, the main cloud hanging over the World Cup has been the deteriorating health of All Blacks legend Jonah Lomu, who has revealed he may need a second kidney transplant after an organ he received in 2004 began to fail.

Lomu, 36, was heavily involved in promoting the World Cup and played a major part in the opening ceremony, but fell ill earlier this month and is receiving daily dialysis at Auckland Hospital's renal unit.

"My kidney was failing and my body had become so toxic it started to shut down," Lomu said, adding that he hoped to recover in time to attend the final.

* Click HERE for the latest RWC odds on BET.CO.ZA


  • Johnny-BB - 2011-10-03 13:32

    ......All Blacks and Ireland final... .....All Blacks = Champs...!!!

      Bigdaddynic - 2011-10-03 13:40

      Johhny is a W A N K E R

      StBad - 2011-10-03 14:34

      If I had to put my house on the two finalists it would be the same, but here's hoping the Springboks nail the Aussies and AB's and I'm watching the final in my new cardboard shelter! Go Bokke!!!

      Johnny-BB - 2011-10-03 14:35

      .....Johnny is a "champion" supporter... ..........Go All Blacks..!!!

      OZNOB - 2011-10-03 15:09

      GLAD YOU THINK SO ! i guess you have not factored in 2 major negatives firstly the ab's are known chokers they haven't got past the qf and as you probably know there is many a slip twixt the cup and the lips and secondly your playmaker mr carter is out of action so please you are counting your eggs before they hatch.

  • Stephan - 2011-10-03 13:33

    And the news in this article?????????????????

  • Lida - 2011-10-03 13:36

    All New Zealand has got is sport and nature, rugby being no 1 sport. The country is beautiful and the people are lovely. Too many rules and restrictions though which makes the country a bit boring. I wish you all the best Lomu hope you get better soon

  • Anneleen - 2011-10-03 13:53

    ...and the fever has go Bok-fans firmly in its grip as well...but what a fever to have...go Bokke!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • marco - 2011-10-03 14:01

    One area of weakness and vulnerability for Australia is in their scrums especially at their tighthead props with serious technical issues when it comes to their binding under pressure.Whoever referee's this should be aware of that and South Africa would wanna target that for potentially a 3 or 5+2point penalty.Recent performances by Francois Hougaard,the now goner Francois Steyn,Bismarck du Plessis and Heinrich Brussow,shows that the Boks do have the X-factor compared to Australia and New Zealand.Even our old stalwarts like Danie Rossouw,Schalk Burger and Jacques Fourie are hitting fine form and surely look world class.Only problem is that PDV and co may have pencilled in Francois Hougaard,Bismarck du Plessis and Danie Rossouw on the bench for the quarter-finals and that's a major worry. One of many ways the Boks should beat Australia I reckon is by creating the maximum impact in the first half of a game.That means starting the guys they want to put on the bench in Francois Hougaard,Bismarck du Plessis and Danie Rossouw.The Boks are at their best with their noses infront first off,and with these players we have our best chance of getting ahead by scoring points.You know you can always bring on Fourie du Preez, John Smit and Bakkies Botha to close out the game then.The Springboks have the players in their squad to defend the trophy successfully so good luck to them.

      Johnny-BB - 2011-10-03 14:29

      ....genius PDV will definately play grandpa Smit, and the worlds best hooker, Bismark, will again be on the bench, ......and with grandpa Smit in the Protea-front-row, .....the Protea-scrum will be scrumming in reverse the whole game... ....and Banana "intercepting" the whole game leaving huge gaps open in the back-line,.. ...and Jean de Villiers missing all his tackles... ........easy one for the Wallabies ...!!

  • MetalWomble - 2011-10-03 14:15

    "Wellington - New Zealand has enthusiastically embraced the Rugby World Cup" and threatened to boycott the next one... :-/

  • Barry Edwards - 2011-10-03 17:10

    And this is the country that is threatening to boycott the next world cup, before their "effort" to host this years event is even finished. I say NZ should never be considered to host the event again.

      JDemons - 2011-10-04 04:23

      Actually Barry, NZ don't want to boycott and neither does Steve Tew but when there's no money....there's no money. It takes a lot to run a sucessful rugby union and when the majority of your revenue comes from your sponsors who pay unions on the amount of exposure they might receive during a year and that year of advertising is cut short because of the WC and so what might be $20m a year down to $10m that's a huge difference. SARU is most probably in the same position as they would have lost on advertising with a short Tri-nations.

  • pages:
  • 1