We are ready, despite making the basic error of angst-ing for months over what the poor, poor hoardes of flat-cap and scarf wearing northern hemisphere rugger fans will do in little old NZ, when they turn up looking to eat, drink, sing in large groups and ride trains and that. Our inauspicious build up has mostly centred on Waterfront stadiums, armchair commentary on corporate PR shenanigans, Party Central, a shadowy world cup minister, people waiting for up to THREE OR FOUR MINUTES EACH to walk onto a train after August’s Bledisloe test.
Fuck that shit – the world cup, the bloody world cup is here at last, and people are starting to get excited. John Campbell being cheerfully molested by the Tongan fans at Auckland Airport is the image of the cup so far. RWC CEO Martin Sneddon, who must have been wistfully reminiscing about the carefree days of being carted for 105 from 12 overs v England, is actually starting to smile and look relaxed. People from all around the world are about to arrive in little ol’ here, and will want to have some fun.
Auckland has scrubbed up nicely, with a shiny new Wynard Quarter, tram and bridge installed in time for the cup. Suburbs are adopting teams – my cycle commute through Milford and Takapuna saw a few token French flags (there’ll be more once we waste them in pool play I bet) (ahem). My only slight concern is the special Fan Walk to Eden Park and back – it’s a long way to go! If I can offer advice, after my own experience of walking into town after the third Lions test in 2005 – you are advised to be very, very drunk.
Party Central – road cones for drinking out of and a rugby ball-shaped urinal
Of course the elephant in the room is our losing world cup record since last time it was here. An elephant that’s shat all over the floor, broken the couch with its trunk before charging through the wall and bolting. No tidied up waterfront will help our desperate, crushing expectation that FINALLY, Richie or his injury-appointed deputy will lift the cup at home. I just worry that Fear Of Fucking Up (or FOFU) will diminish Kiwis’ hosting enjoyment – that we won’t relax and get into this world cup until after it’s over. We are not good losers, or winners, and how we handle a world cup triumph or defeat at home will test our very nationhood, frankly. I hope it goes well.
So, can we win it? Of course we can. My personal All Blacks world cup theory is that once we win a world cup again (I really hope it’s this one), we’ll win four or five in a row, until people are sick of it and change the rules somehow. Can’t wait.