New Zealand v Portugal, RWC2007, Lyon, September 2007
We spent the week following the match in Marseilles whizzing around teh region - from Montpellier in the west, over east as far as Nice, before heading up to Lyon. Awesome trip. Pleased to say that the expensive seats in the purple zone were worth it: in Lyon we were on half way, near the non-playing ABs, and about 2 rows in front of Graham Henry and Steve Hansen, though separated by more technology than the Apollo Space Program, and also by the largest bloody bouncer I have ever seen. Fingers like sausages. The atmosphere for Portugal was great - their fans perked up a fairly one-sided affair and gave it a carnival feel. A lot had been said about reducing the number of teams to 16 for 2011 in an attempt to make it more even, but the significance of that game for the Portuguese was immense. Fans by us said they can’t even see their team on TV normally, so to come and see them play the All Blacks in a Rugby World Cup was special. The reaction to their first points (the drop goal) was amazing; the noise upon Joao Correia getting the try was beserk. No doubt a special day for them. Just a pity they didn’t get much in the way of souvenirs. That night we bumped into two of their forwards in town, speaking to Andre Silva and he said that they could not get the All Black jerseys at the end. It seems Henry’s All Blacks can only give out socks and shorts to opponents. Doesn’t quite look the same, framed on the club room’s wall does it? The game: Well, 108 on the board doesn’t look bad, but the consensus at the pub afterwards seemed to be that we were sloppy and off the pace. Luckily a lot of other teams seem below par as well - we hoped we would improve, cut out the dropsies, and begin to tighten up. The coaches didn’t look that wrapt afterwards. Game day was awesome though, and afterwards we discovered we were staying in the same hotel as the TV3 team - so it was beers with Hamish McKay, AJ Wetton, Grant Fox and their crew in the foyer, then again later for Junior when he joined them in town at the Maori Cafe in Lyon. Ah, France. Thanks a lot, and sorry about our bad French. ‘Foux Du Fafa’ by Flight of the Conchords. Merci buckets, Lyon!