If Eliza Doolittle was looking back at the last six weeks and the Rugby World Cup, I reckon she’d say it’s been lover-er-ly.
As we wait for tonight’s final it’s timely to look back at some of the people which have made it such a success.
Full credit to:
* The Tongan community who were the first to show their true colours and did it so exuberantly.
* The fans who came from their homelands to follow their teams; the recent immigrants and those who discovered or rediscovered their links to other countries.
* All the supporters who backed a team, their own or not, which added so much to the fun of matches.
* The individuals, businesses and communities who got behind the event to paint the country in the many colours of the 20 teams.
* The volunteers, unfailingly helpful, polite and cheerful, at every venue for every match.
* The people who perservered to build the stadium in Dunedin and had the good sense to put a roof on it.
* The Real New Zealand Festival which showed the World Cup was about so much more than rugby.
* Good sports, on and off the field, who thankfully were the very large majority.
* The minnows and middling fish who played well and won hearts, if not games.
* The special moments – the opening; Jock Hobbs presenting Richie McCaw and Mils Muliaina with their 100th test caps; the singing by the crowds . . .
* The teams, their coaches and entourages.
* Martin Snedden who wrote in an open letter:
We set out to make people happy and proud. I think we’ve achieved that.
It’s been a really tough last 12 months for New Zealand. The magnitude of the
Christchurch disaster and the complexity of the road to recovery have knocked us
all. Pike River added to our sadness. On top of that, the economic recession has
lasted long and bitten deeper than any of us expected. We’ve grieved for those
directly affected by these events and worried about our country’s future.
Rugby World Cup 2011 hasn’t solved the problems but it has given us some
fantastic relief at a time when we needed some form of escape. Our collective
efforts have given us just cause to be proud of who we are and, most
importantly, to start smiling again. The nation’s morale has lifted.
Our thousands of guests have sensed our mood and responded brilliantly,
adding rich colour and flavour to this celebration of our national game and our
country. We owe them heaps. . .
* The All Blacks.
Whatever happens tonight, I hope we can remember the fun and the excitement, agree the tournament has been a success and accept the result with grace or magnanimity as appropriate.
Oh, and GO THE ALL BLACKS, let’s all have a love-er-ly time tonight!