It was 10am on Sunday morning and I was clearly affected by alcohol. I was in a pub called the Walkabout. A horrible, cheap + nasty Australian franchise, one of the few pubs that was open early on this Sunday morning. I was there, with about another two hundred All Black fans decked out in black to watch the All Blacks play France in the 2011 Rugby World Cup Final. And as I said at the beginning of the competition, I don't know a lot about rugby. I still don't really know the rules, I don't understand the nuances or intricacies of the game. Anything other than the obvious is likely to be well over my head. Despite this, I enjoyed the competition. I watched all the All Blacks games, and managed some of the others too. I made Morf drive me out to a pub in South Hampton so I could watch the NZ vs France Pool match. I watched as much of the NZ vs Japanese game as I could before rushing off the city to catch a flight. I was smug when I got to Stansted Airport and got a glance of the final score. Often I said I'd make it down to the pub, but really the best I could do in my hungover state was move from the bed to the couch. I watched the quarter finals against Argentina with a lounge full of people after the drunken madness that was my birthday.There were a few games I may have napped a bit through, but I'd open my eyes when the crowd cheered, and would cheer along.
But that Sunday? The Sunday of the Grand Final? I got up (possibly with some prodding by a Jimmy) and managed to make it down to the pub at half eight. A miracle considering the drunken adventures the night before had held. Still, I had Strawberry Cider in hand, and wasn't too fussed.
We watched it on a big screen, getting told off by the kitchen lady. We cheered when the boys did the haka (right on you Weepu for leading!) and my Scottish friend ohlala'd over Ali Williams. We cheered when Tony Woodcock scored the first try. We commiserated when Weepu missed a penalty. And then the conversion. And then was taken off, replaced by Stephen Donald, number 4 on the list. We cheered when he scored, and gasped when France scored a try + conversion. One point, that's what was in it. It was a very very tense game, watched behind fingers, biting lips, very nearly not being able to look but not being able to look away.
Except that then the full time whistle blew. And The All Blacks were still a point ahead. And for the first time since 1987, New Zealand had won the World Cup, and were the Rugby Champions.
I was estatic, there was loads of hugging, and cheering, and high fives. There was loads of singing, and general ridiculousness. We had more drinks, we laughed, there was relief.
I'm not sure how much longer we were at the pub for, but it was great long while. Walking back to the flat we stopped and high fived every oncoming pedestrian. We pushed each other around in abandoned shopping trolleys. We were happy, the day was fine, and I was intoxicated well before lunch on a Sunday.
I'm a million miles away from home, but it might as well have been across the road at that point. I felt patriotic, and happy. I can't even imagine the madness as it was happening right then in Auckland. It must have been crazy.
So yes, I was there. I watched the New Zealand team win. A tiny little bit of history that I was super super glad to partake in.
Good job, boys. Well done!