Friday 9 September 2011

So it begins...

The Rugby World Cup 2011. For six years now, this event has been looming ever bigger over the country, a slow and steady build not just in the media, which will seize on anything to fill column inches, but also amongst most Kiwis, even those of us who can't stand rugby at any price.

Having been brought up in a non-sporting household, and raised my children ditto, I've been conscious all my life of not quite fitting in, of not being an absolutely true-blue (or black) Kiwi - but, ironically, it's this imminent seven-week total immersion in the game that's shown me that in fact I'm far from being alone, most of the people I've spoken to saying, "I"m not actually a rugby fan..."

It's enormously heartening, I must say, after years of feeling like an outsider with a guilty secret. But their next word is just that: "but" - "but I'm looking forward to the fireworks/party/buzz..." And so am I. Especially here in Auckland, where we've been putting up for months and months with tiresome roadworks and construction as the place has been readied - and that after years of even more tedious argument about how things should be done. Now, though, it's payback time, and right this minute it's started brilliantly, on a fabulous clear sunny day with thousands and thousands of people, locals and visitors, crowding the waterfront, 600 Maori rowing 23 waka into Viaduct Harbour, bands playing, a flash-mob haka in Queen Street - and later tonight the biggest firework display ever held in the country. Can't wait.

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