I make no apologies- I am a rugby person. I am not fanatical about it, in fact I hardly know much about it nowadays because I am ‘old school’ and played in the days of leather balls, rucking, touch judges just telling us where the ball went out, 5 minute half times (with maybe an orange quarter if the manager remembered to pick some up), and 3 point tries. I am pretty sure today’s game is probably a better spectacle given that EVERYONE is now a running, passing, kicking member of the team, and hookers find themselves on the wing as often as they find themselves rubbing jowls with their opposition in a scrum! I don’t necessarily agree that this is a good thing, but what do I know.

What I am sure about is that professionalism has NOT been good for the game. Great for the players who make a quid from what they enjoy doing, great for sponsors to get such saturation coverage from the modest fees they pay, outstanding for TV broadcasters, but it’s not doing great things for the game as a whole. The focus is now too much on the $$$ and those who earn it for the clubs/provinces/unions and less on the players who will never amount to much more than passionate supporters and players of the game. Sadly I doubt that this is going to change any time soon, and the cream will continue to get the cream and the grassroots will continue to rely on the dedicated and passionate to survive and continue to provide the cream with replacement players.

But the World Cup has come back to New Zealand after 24 years and expectation is high. We know we have had a few things go against us in the past, and many having the feeling that we were hard done by in a number of the championships we missed out on. Many believe we have developed into a team of ‘chokers’ but this is hard to subscribe to. Many have become cynical of our potential, but I don’t subscribe. Many think we have ‘hoodoos’ but this isn’t something I agree with. Many believe we have the team, have the passion, have the wood on our main oppositions and are going to win. So do I.

But- will the Cup be the success as a spectacle, windfall as a tourist spend, hoot as an experience that all of our organisers have heralded it to be? I sincerely hope so, BUT FOR GOD’S SAKE!!!!

Opening night of the tournament and we have Auckland transport system struggling to get people to (a) the game and Opening Ceremony venue, and (b) ‘Party Central’ in central Auckland where great entertainment is promised and views of the opening performances are anticipated with high expectations. And abuse and physical assault is directed at young Maori who are part of the performance. And young Maori paddlers hyped up after their time in the limelight acting aggressively to the crowds there to watch. And people dive or jump into the harbour to avoid possible injury. And passengers on delayed trains use emergency stop signals to enable people to get off trains before heat exhaustion overtakes them. What the hell is going on?

For years we have been told again and again this is going to be the biggest event in New Zealand history. Didn’t the organisers listen to their own hype? Party Central is a venue with just a few thousand capacity yet it is said hundreds of thousands tried to attend. The game and opening ceremony venue has a capacity of some 60,000 but problems occurred because so many of those tens of thousands wanted to take public transport to get to the park. Didn’t the organisers think that people would Take public transport? (Just because Auckland is a city of drivers and self-centred commuters, surely the organisers would consider the same public would listen to and buy into the promoted transport options?)

Let’s just hope that they have learned their lessons and that all future games and entertainments planned for Auckland are properly catered for, especially as regards access to the venues, and ease and comfort for those who take part.

And bigots? STAY AWAY!!!



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