And so the day has arrived and both Var and I are still in a bit of a fuzz, not believing we are really going to the biggest match in the rugby world, in the nation for which rugby is a religion. Our plan had been to go into Auckland earlyish so we could have a wander round, grab something to eat and then make our way to the stadium. As seemed to have happened with most of our plans since we arrived in Orewa, they went a little awry. We had a leisurely morning before catching the bus into town at about 3ish. By the time we got into Auckland we wandered down to the harbour area which was mobbed. Of course some browsing and shopping was done before we looked for somewhere to eat.
We had got talking to a couple on the campsite who were pitched next to us and they recommended an Italian restaurant in the harbour area so we headed towards it and after a short wait were shown to a table. On the table next to us were a couple from Australia and we soon got talking to them (they warned us that they had been waiting a long time for their starter). They were a great laugh and incredibly friendly so we sat and chatted to them over our food. When they left, another couple sat next to us and we started talking to them as well. They were a young English couple who had recently emigrated to New Zealand and were loving every minute of it. They didn't have tickets to the final so had to go off a find somewhere to watch it, not as easy as it sounds because all the pubs were packed to the point were queues had formed along the harbourside. Whilst we were sitting waiting to be served the actor James Nesbitt walked past us and went into a pub just across from us. Var wasn't at the table at the time so was gutted when we told her, however about an hour or so later he walked back past us...as it turned out it wasn't to be the last time we saw him!
After being in the restaurant for 3 hours we knew we had to make our way to the stadium. As on the night of the Bronze Final the transport was really well organised and we headed for the train which took us straight to Eden Park. It was at this point that I realised we were on the opposite side of the stadium to the girl in the concession stand and that I wouldn't have time to get my dragon hat to her. (I still feel guilty about it.) Of course one of the things you absolutely must by on such an occasion is a match programme. Every stand we stopped at had sold out and we were told at one point that there weren't any left. I was a little annoyed to say the least but what can you do? So we went to buy some beers for the game. The drinks shops are sold in mini supermarkets with fridges etc. Completely different to how it is over here. Anyway as we were in the "supermarket" James Nesbitt came in and walked up to the fridge I was at, he picked up some cans and walked away talking to his friend who was still at the fridge. Var had previously picked up 6 small cans but the girl at the checkout told her we had to buy in multiples of 4 so I had gone back to the fridge to grab another 2 cans. At the same time as I arrived, James Nesbitt's friend shouted to him asking how many he should get, this happened at exactly the same time as I was saying to Var "as many as you want". It was one of those moments. His head shot out of the fridge and looked at me, I said "oh sorry I was talking to my friend" to which he replied "I thought you were telling me I could take as manay as I liked", I said "well you can" to which he replied, "I think I love you". Well we all burst out laughing! As we came out with our cans, Var spotted a pile of programmes and we managed to grab the last 3!
What fantastic seats we had! Just to the left of the centre line, facing the boys when they lined up for the anthem although unfortunately a little behind them for the haka. Any of you interested in rugby will know that the French advanced on the haka which never works in the opposing team's favour but I do believe, as do a number of kiwis I spoke to, that fining them was ridiculous. The fact that the lost should be punishment enough. Before the whole thing started Var and I looked at each other and both said that even though we were there, we still didn't believe we were there.
90 nail-biting minutes later the All Blacks were the champions and I think deservedly so. Many people have said that the best team lost and France did play well, but as I know because it happened to Wales twice this tournament, the best team do sometimes lose.
We had decided to go into Auckland after the match to savour the atmosphere but it was so crowded and getting into pubs and bars was going to be a nightmare that we found a little coffee bar and sat and watched all the excitement and celebrations from the sidelines. Having done this though the public transport was finished by the time we decided to make a move so our only option was a taxi. It took us about and hour and a half to grab one and we finally got back to the campsite at 4.30 am.