Stephen Donald should get this framed

October 24th, 2011 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

This is Tom Scott’s Saturday cartoon. He must be a time traveller! Maybe it helped inspire Donald to score what turned out to be the winning three points!

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What a tournament

October 24th, 2011 at 8:54 am by David Farrar

It has been a tough 12 months for New Zealand. 11 months ago, we had the Pike River explosion, and then in February the second Christchurch earthquake. On top of that, we’ve watched as countries big (US) and small (Greece) topple on the edge of disaster with debt defaults, and have wondered how badly will we be hit, if one or more countries drown under their debt burdens.

So when we won the hosting rights in 2005, who would have thought it would prove such a tonic for our country. It has captured our collective spirit in a way I’ve not seen with any other sports tournament. Why has it been so good? Many, many factors. Here’s some of the factors and people to thank in my opinion.

  • Jock Hobbs and Helen Clark for winning us the hosting rights. My third favourite moment of the RWC was having Jock Hobbs present Rochie McCaw with his 100th test cap.
  • Leon Grice and the RWC2011 team who implemented the concept of a stadium of four million people. Leon told me at a fairly early stage about the plans (which were part of the bid) to have teams and overseas fans “hosted” by various cities and towns, and it was an inspired idea that worked magnificently.
  • Martin Snedden and the NZRFU who organised the tournament so well. I loved the choirs, and the Oles at each kick off!
  • The four million Kiwis who loved being great hosts. It’s something we excel at.
  • Also those who attended the games and cheered passionately for whichever team we adopted for the day. For many of the teams, they probably played to a bigger more supportive home crowd than they ever got at home.
  • The party central and fan zones. They were brilliant. We are (mostly) social creatures and even the largest pub can only hold so many. They were almost too popular in Auckland, but also made the rest of the country feel part of the action.
  • RWC Minister Murray McCully. Murray gets a fair bit of flak for his hands on management style and one journalist famously said Murray makes Helen Clark’s micro-management look like benign neglect! But in this case, Murray and his team’s attention to detail have  paid off in spades.
  • The RWC Opening Ceremony. The comparison to 1987 RWC is like comparing humans to apes. The ceremony was Olympic-class. It was my second favourite moment of the tournament.
  • The minnow teams. They all played their best games, and all 48 matches were good games to watch. This wasn’t a tournament of three or four countries, but all 20. If it were not for Canada, France would not have even made the quarter-finals, let alone the final.
  • The mighty All Blacks.  They won the average pool game by 60 points to 12 – a 48 point margin. They won their quarter-final by 23 points, their semi-final by 14 points and the final by one point.
  • While it is a team effort, Graham Henry and Richie McCaw impressed and inspired as coach and captain. Richie one day will sit in Olympus as one of the Gods of the game.
  • The French. They hit their top form just when it was needed, to give the All Blacks the fight of their lives. The French and the Welsh should both be proud of their team’s achievements.
  • The Final. I’ve never been so caught up in a game. God knows what would have happened if we had lost. I now understand why 30% of NZers said the outcome of the RWC mattered more to them than the election outcome. I was living in terror of the drop goal. Breating was optional for those last few minutes.
  • The Award Ceremony. This was my number one moment of the tournament, with two parts resonating especially. McCaw holding the Webb Ellis Cup aloft. That moment will become as iconic as David Kirk’s 24 years earlier. But the most emotional moment was when the Cup was taken onto the ground by a Canterbury boy whose mother had died in the earthquake. His beaming smile of joy led to many a tear being shed, as people reflected how rare such smiles has probably been since the earthquake.

So it has been a great six weeks, and the All Blacks are world champions. Despite the euphoria, I think this will be the last Rugby World cup we host in New Zealand. But it will be a tournament that I know I, and many others, will never forget.

Feel free to share below your favourite memories. No negativity on this thread please. If you feel the need, go to General Debate.

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Well done the French

October 23rd, 2011 at 10:52 pm by David Farrar

Well the New Zealand All Blacks are the world champions by 8 points to 7. Let the celebrations begin!!!!

But full credit to the French who played a magnificent game, and performed so very very well that they must be gutted not to have won, but should be proud of their play.

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Rugby World Cup 23 October 2011

October 23rd, 2011 at 8:36 am by David Farrar

Only one topic today. Our first Rugby World Cup Final in 16 years.

A few months ago most of us were braced for disappointment. We had been through this before. The All Blacks peaked too early or choked or something, and we lost.

But then as the pool play got underway, our optimism has risen and risen. We won all four games convincingly, scoring 240 points and conceding just 49. We picked up a bonus point for every game, meaning we scored at least four tries.

In our pool France barely qualified. If Tonga had beaten Canada, France would have not made the quarter-finals.

England was the only unbeaten team in Pool B, but lost at the quarter-finals, as did Argentina.

Amazingly in Pool C, Australia finished second behind Ireland. That gave us hope for the semi-final.

Pool D has the Springboks win all their games, but they held Wales off by one 1 point. They were arguably our biggest threat, but then they got knocked out by Australia despite playing the stronger game. I think it was at this point that things were really looking good. We were confident we had Australia’s measure, and sure enough they couldn’t score a try against New Zealand in 80 minutes.

So today is the day, starting at 9 pm, where we’ve got the best chance since we won the inaugural trophy to regain the title World Champions. Of course the result is far from guaranteed. France can play amazingly effective rugby when they hit top form. They have twice before beaten us at Rugby World Cups. But tonight, it should be the All Blacks’ day.

What are your picks for the score or margin? I’m saying the All Blacks by 13.

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Rugby World Cup 22 October 2011

October 22nd, 2011 at 3:27 pm by David Farrar

I loved the full time try to Wales. They lost, but I have never seen Wales play as well as they have in this World Cup.

So it all ends tomorrow. Where will you be watching the final, if you are?

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The triumph of Maori TV

October 22nd, 2011 at 1:53 pm by David Farrar

Joseph Romanos writes at Stuff:

A second Rugby World Cup has been playing out behind the scenes in New Zealand, and it’s been just as torrid as the one that has so engrossed us since September 9.

Rugby fans have been able to watch key World Cup matches live on no less than five New Zealand channels – TV One, TV3, Maori (English version), Maori (Maori language version) and Sky.

The battle for viewers has been fascinating.

TV One began sensationally, drawing 1.015 million viewers for the first match, New Zealand against Tonga. This immediately followed the opening ceremony, also a TV One triumph.

For that first match Sky had an audience of 442,000 and Maori Television, 177,000.

As the tournament has progressed, however, the big mover has been Maori Television.

By the quarterfinals, Maori Television was the most popular of the free-to-air channels. At times its audience was virtually the combined viewership of TV One and TV3.

For the New Zealand v Argentina quarter-final, Maori Television drew 501,000, behind Sky (628,000), but well ahead of TV One (420,000) and TV3 (236,000). It has continued to rate extremely well.

Maori TV have done an excellent job with their coverage and viewers have voted with their feet. The fact they started off with 20% of the audience of TV One, and at the quarter final had more viewers is a huge tribute to them. They are showing that in many ways they are becoming our national public service broadcaster.

Tahu Potiki, a director of Maori TV, also writes:

I recall the many sceptical, sometimes scathing, comments when it was announced Maori Television was to be the lead broadcaster for the Rugby World Cup, and the political stoush that surrounded the bidding process, but it certainly seems to have been a good choice. It is unclear what the differentiating factor is, but the uninterrupted broadcast is most likely playing a part.

I know I got home late one day and turned television on just in time to catch the last bit of the national anthems. Immediately the teams had finished singing the coverage halted and we crossed to an advertisement or a promotion. I realised then I was watching the wrong channel and changed quickly to Maori TV.

I’ve watched some on Sky Sports and some on Maori TV. Have not decided yet for the final but will probably be Maori TV to hear Keith Quinn hopefully declare the All Blacks the World Champions!

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Apples for Julia

October 17th, 2011 at 2:56 pm by David Farrar

Hawkes Bay Today reports:

Hawke’s Bay apple producer Apollo made a cheeky but tasteful offer to Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard for the Rugby World Cup semifinal between the All Blacks and Wallabies.

Apollo’s director, Bruce Beaton, packed a carton of New Zealand Queen apples and asked Napier MP Chris Tremain to transport the fruit to Prime Minister John Key’s house in Auckland at the weekend.

“The idea was that if Julia was over watching the rugby with John in Auckland, she could have a tasty New Zealand apple to munch after the game,” Mr Beaton said.

She wasn’t there, but hopefully the apples will get to her in Australia.

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Who watched the rugby last night?

October 17th, 2011 at 11:29 am by David Farrar

Just seen the viewer stats for the rugby last night. As you know it was broadcast on Sky Sports, TV One, TV3 and Maori TV. Each broadcaster tends to only trumpet their own viewers, but let’s add all the individual figures up. This is the percentage of all adults and children (only excludes under five year olds) watching each channel, and the approx number of viewers:

  1. TV One 17.0%, 680,000
  2. Sky Sports 16.7%, 668,000
  3. TV3 10.0%, 400,000
  4. Maori TV 6.8%, 272,000

That adds up to 50.5% of New Zealanders or 2,020,000 Kiwis who watched the semi-final. One can only wonder what the final will get?

Which other “programmes” have had 2 million viewers?

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All Blacks 20 – Australia 6

October 16th, 2011 at 10:50 pm by David Farrar

Well a pretty impressive effort to stop the Wallabies from scoring even a single try in 80 minutes. Amazing that this will be the first time in 16 years we actually make a RWC Final. Now we just have to repeat this performance with the French.

I did reflect during the game about how much larger the win margin would have been if Dan Carter had not been injured!

Anyway back to the drinking – have a great night celebrating everyone!

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Rugby World Cup 16 October 2011

October 16th, 2011 at 10:18 am by David Farrar

Oh Wales got so very very close. They played to the best of their ability and would have won if the penalty had occurred one metre closer to the try line. The last few minutes were intense, as Wales got into the French territory but never quite got the opportunity for a drop goal.

One shouldn’t be overly confident, but hell if New Zealand wins tonight, we should beat France in the final. They have not shone, if they can only beat a 14 man Welsh team by one point.

So all eyes of All Blacks v Wallabies tonight. What are you predictions. I’m going for All Blacks by 10 points.

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Rugby World Cup 10 October 2011

October 10th, 2011 at 8:17 am by David Farrar

Wow that first half against Argentina had me worried. The final score was somewhat generous to us. Kudos to Argentina for a great game, and exposing the areas where the All Blacks need to close their vulnerabilities.

The atmosphere for the All Blacks v Wallabies semi-final will I am sure be every part as intense as the actual final.

For the other semi-final I imagine there will be 50,000 or so Kiwis who discover some distant Welsh ancestry and cheer them on against France.

The hopeful and likely final is New Zealand vs France. In one sense a nightmare as we have often crashed at their hands in the RWC, but on the other hand we thrashed them in pool play, and have shown we can have their measure.

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Rugby World Cup 9 October 2011

October 9th, 2011 at 6:08 am by David Farrar

Well they were two enjoyable quarter-finals. I was hoping Ireland would win against Wales, but Wales totally deserved the win – the best I have seen them play this tournament.

And oh it was wonderful to see France smash England. My only concern is that if we play France in the final, they might beat us!

France have to be favoured to beat Wales in their semi-final. We’ll plunge into recession if we don’t beat Argentina to make the other semi. The big unknown is whether we’ll be facing Australia or South Africa. I’m not even sure yet who to cheer for. Normally I subscribe to the “anyone playing Australia” theory but I have to say it would be good to have the Boks eliminated.

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Rugby and Politics

October 6th, 2011 at 1:30 pm by David Farrar

Over at Stuff in my By the numbers blog, I look at some of the questions on the election and rugby, including the fascinating fact that 30% of New Zealanders said that the outcome of the Rugby World Cup matters to them more than the outcome of the general election. Amongst under 25s this rises to 55%!

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Rugby World Cup quarter-finals

October 3rd, 2011 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

So the quarter-finals are:

  1. Ireland vs Wales Sat 8 Oct 6.00 pm Wellington
  2. England v France Sat 8 Oct 8.30 pm Auckland
  3. South Africa v Australia Sun 9 Oct 6.00 pm Wellington
  4. NZ v Argentina Australia Sun 9 October 8.30 pm Auckland (corrected)

If NZ wins, we will play the winner of South Africa v Australia. That match arguably will be the effective final.

 

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Tonga beats France

October 1st, 2011 at 7:50 pm by David Farrar

Well done Tonga – a great performance to beat France 19-14. Sadly France still go through to the quarter-finals as Tonga had lost to Canada earlier.

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Yay

October 1st, 2011 at 9:14 am by David Farrar

The Dom Post reports:

It is time for Wellington to party – and now it can rock all the way through to the finals.

The waterfront festivities have been extended, with Wellington City Council making an about-turn last night on its decision to shut the fanzone straight after the quarterfinals and put an end to Rugby World Cup celebrations.

Mayor Celia Wade-Brown said the fanzone would now show all four big matches after the quarterfinals, including the two semifinals on October 15 and 16, the bronze final on October 21 and the final on October 23

Excellent, one back-down I thoroughly approve of.

 

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Save the fan zone

September 30th, 2011 at 12:08 pm by David Farrar

Aaarrgh. This is the stupidest decision ever.

The Herald reports:

The Wellington City Council has been slammed for not applying for resource consent for the city’s Fan Zone past the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals.

While New Zealanders around the rest of the country will be able to enjoy the final and semi-finals at free public fan zones, Wellingtonians will either have to watch the games at home or at a pub.

The fan zone, situated next to the new Wharewaka on Odlins Plaza, fits 3,000 fans and was granted resource consent only up to October 12.

Mayor Celia Wade-Brown told Newstalk ZB it has always been the plan to close the waterfront fan zone on October 9.

She said it is part of a country-wide approach, with many overseas supporters likely to follow their teams to Auckland for the final stages of the tournament.

Oh for fuck’s sake, this is such a stupid decision. What about all the Wellingtonians? We’ve been loving the fan zone. I’ve been raving about it to everyone.

Shit, I was planning to watch the final there. Nothing better than celebrating the All Blacks winning the Rugby World Cup than with 3,000 of your mates. And we would all be mates that night.

Please, please City Councillors change this decision. This is probably the last ever Rugby World Cup in NZ. Any Councillor who votes against keeping the fan zone going should be targeted for eviction in 2013!

UPDATE: If the Council won’t budget, can Murray McCully seize control of the Wellington Waterfront also please. Guarantee you a huge spike upwards in the party vote for National in Wellington!

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Rugby World Cup 25 September 2011

September 25th, 2011 at 10:20 am by David Farrar

Well that wasn’t a bad game at all. After 30 minutes NZ had a bigger lead over France than Australia had managed against the United States.The final score of 37-17 was possibly generous towards the French.

Was great to see Richie McCaw get presented with a literal cap for his 100th test cap – the first All Black to achieve this. Was also moving to see an obviously ill Jock Hobbs present it to him.

Today

  • 3.30 pm – Fiji v Samoa at Eden Park. Go Samoa, who should have a supportive crowd
  • 6.00 pm – Ireland v Russia at Rotorua. Russia are the under dogs but I have to support Ireland.
  • 8.30 pm – Argentina v Scotland in Wellington. As my maternal family tree includes 12 generations of Scots, they’re my pick.
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Rugby World Cup 2011

September 24th, 2011 at 3:06 pm by David Farrar

Yesterday

Went to the USA vs Australia game last night. We grabbed dinner beforehand at the Trade Kitchen and even from there could see hundreds of people walking past in USA colours, many of them wearing US flags.

In the stadium, it was much the same. There were certainly a lot of Aussie supporters also, but far far more dressed up to support the US. And the crowd was so pro-US, that I suspect it might be the biggest home crowd they’ve ever had.

The first 30 minutes or so the US did amazingly well – especially considering it was their B team vs the Australian A team. The Wallabies went 10-0 up in the first 15 minutes, but then for around 10 minutes Team USA were all attack and constantly close to the Australian line, and finally at 25 minutes they scored a try and the stadium went wild.

Australia scored only two more tries in the first half so 22-5 was pretty respectable. However the difference between a professional and an amateur team shone through in the second half as USA were obviously exhausted and Australia scored seven tries in the second half with ease to make it 67-5. Just before full-time Faingaa knocked himself out an after tacking an American. It took almost ten minutes for him to be taken off the field.

The atmosphere was great, and people happy despite the result. I notice Derek Cheng went undercover as an Aussie fan to see if he got abused, and Wellingtonians were very well behaved.

Tonight

England play Romania in Dunedin at 6 pm. Let’s hope they can manage a gypsy curse or two.

Of course the big game is NZ v France at Eden Park starting 8.30 pm. I’m a bit nervous about this one. The French seem t be our bogeys at RWCs. I’ll be pleased with a win, regardless of the margin.

Am attending the Aotearoa Student Press Association Awards tonight , so unless they have coverage there will catch a recording of the game when I get home.

Tomorrow

  • 3.30 pm – Fiji v Samoa at Eden Park. Go Samoa, who should have a supportive crowd
  • 6.00 pm – Ireland v Russia at Rotorua. Russia are the under dogs but I have to support Ireland.
  • 8.30 pm – Argentina v Scotland in Wellington. As my maternal family tree includes 12 generations of Scots, they’re my pick.
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Where the fuck is Webb Ellis

September 21st, 2011 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Very well done. Hat Tip: Trevor Mallard at Red Alert.

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Watkins on RWC

September 20th, 2011 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Some interesting details in Tracy Watkins column last week:

There is even deeper fury about promises that were supposedly made and not kept. When the Cabinet hauled Auckland transport officials before them to go over the plans one last time they were apparently assured there would be a person on every carriage to avoid delays when emergency buttons were pushed, but that apparently never happened. They were promised 100 extra buses, but got only 31 – many of which had to be diverted to the North Shore when the ferries become overcrowded. And they were told there would be more security on the platforms than eventuated.

If this is correct, it does sounds like some of the problems were very avoidable.

But all that is largely by the by and a direct result of the biggest failure of all – which was the inability to look past the “peer reviewed” guesstimates by consultants that a party on the waterfront on the night of the opening ceremony would probably attract only 30,000 to 50,000 people. Ministers – particularly the Auckland-based ones who regularly see crowds bigger than that for far more mundane events – can’t escape blame for not treating those figures with scepticism and caution.

I agree both Council and Government should have known better and demanded something better than a guesstimate.

It seems that on the Tuesday before the big game, government officials might have got a whiff of the behemoth- in-waiting and approached Auckland authorities about opening up the Bledisloe and Captain Cook wharfs, but were rebuffed. Auckland – the city that loves to tell Wellington to butt out of its affairs – is reaping the resulting ministerial firestorm as a result.

Again, if this is correct it is very significant.

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Rugby World Cup 18 September 2011

September 18th, 2011 at 1:27 pm by David Farrar

Was walking around Christchurch this morning and passed a sidewalk cafe. Just as I walked past I heard one woman saying to another “so was it 15 to 9″ and I said “15 to 6″ as I passed them, knowing that there was only one possible game they could have been discussing.

Today

  • Wales v Samoa – 3.30 pm. Hoping Samoa do an upset.
  • England v Georgia 6.00 pm. All behind Georgia.
  • France vs Canada 8.30 pm. Can Canada do it again?

No games tomorrow but there is one on Tuesday.

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Ireland wins

September 17th, 2011 at 10:24 pm by David Farrar

Ireland has beaten Australia 15-6. That’s a massive upset victory.

We now have a second reason to love the Irish – on top of their wonderful accents!

Ireland were probably playing to a more fanatical home crowd than they normally get in Ireland itself! Would have been an amazing game to be at the ground for.

 

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Rugby World Cup 17 September 2011

September 17th, 2011 at 6:12 pm by David Farrar

Yesterday

  • NZ v Japan 83 – 7. A very reassuring game.

Today

  • Argentina 43 v Romania 8
  • South Africa v Fiji – no now. Bloody difficult to know who to cheer for. I’ve decided to support the Boks.
  • Australia v Ireland – 8.30 pm

Tomorrow

  • Wales v Samoa – 3.30 pm. Hoping Samoa do an upset.
  • England v Georgia 6.00 pm. All behind Georgia.
  • France vs Canada 8.30 pm. Can Canada do it again?
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My Herald column

September 16th, 2011 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

My David Farrar on Politics column in the Herald is of course on the Rugby World Cup, as it has been the issue of the week.

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