12 venues, 20 teams, 45 days, 600 players, 1,388 match balls, 2,500 media, 5,500 volunteers, 100,000 international visitors, 1.4 million crowd, 4 million hosts, 6 years in the making, 48 matches. (Thanks, Justine, for those details. I pinched them off your Facebook page.)
That sums up the Rugby World Cup, the final of which was played last night. When New Zealand’s All Blacks became the 2011 RWC champions, after they ground out an 8-7 victory over France.
(crap photo, obviously not meant for reproduction)
Profound relief, it was a tight game. I don’t think anyone would have predicted such a close match and, believe me, everyone had a prediction. The most popular being that the ABs would win by 20 points. The All Blacks were odds on favourites, the only team unbeaten throughout the tournament, but everyone knows the only predictable thing about the French team is their unpredictability.
All Kiwis will have their own heroes today. Mine will be Tony Woodcock, who shares my surname and is a kinda sorta distant relative to my children. He became the first All Black loosehead prop to score a try in a Rugby World Cup final, when he thundered through a gap to score the teams only try of the match. I leapt out of my chair when that happened. He’s a big man and he shot through that gap and dived over the line like the best of the backs.
And Stephen Donald, who came on as a replacement. He was the teams fourth (some say the fifth) choice flyhalf, a position that has been dogged with injuries, and wasn’t even in the team until he was called up to the squad while he was out whitebaiting. I must admit to a whispered “Oh no!” when he ran on to the field. But he put his critics to rest when he kicked the winning penalty. Poor bugger didn’t even have a jersey that fitted him properly as if his taking the field was the last thing anyone expected.
My son and daughter-in-law were at the game. Here are a few of their photos from along the Fan Trail, from the city centre to the venue, a distance of about 4.5 kms.
"The Fan Trail offers something for all ages, including large static installations, roving performers, refreshment stops and spot prizes. The entertainment promises surprises for fans, with some performances never before seen in New Zealand.
Existing cafes along the route also provide plenty of opportunities to stop and enjoy food and drinks."