Return of All Blacks lifts spirits in Christchurch

By Abby Gillies, Kurt Bayer

Nick Walls is back on his feet. Photo / David Alexander
Nick Walls is back on his feet. Photo / David Alexander

Nick Walls was trapped in the rubble of the PGC Building for 10 hours after the February earthquake in Christchurch. The 31-year-old was eventually dragged from the crumpled building and has spent the past 16 months learning to walk again.

His world was turned upside down but last night he was back in black to watch the All Blacks in their triumphant return to the city after a two-year break.

"Rugby is huge to this city" he said.

"It was gutting to lose the World Cup games. So, to have the All Blacks back in town gives everyone a lift."

Walls and a group of mates had season tickets at AMI Stadium before the quakes.

Now, he has Crusaders season tickets at the new stadium, and has only missed one game this year.

"Having the stadium back in the city is a big deal, some positivity in a city still pretty broken."

And despite freezing temperatures last night - sitting on zero degrees during the game - residents of the quake-ravaged city filled pubs and rugby clubs.

Dressed in All Blacks' gear and preparing to head to the game with friends, Neville Carter said his son Dan was looking forward to the team's first game in Christchurch since the earthquakes.

"He was quite nervous, which is good, because you're thinking about it and you're ready to go. I think he'll just carry on, the same as last time," he said, from Speight's Ale House before the game.

The proud father was predicting a big win for the team against Ireland. And he had high expectations for his son. "I'm going to see my son kick some goals."

Sara Stockley, 25, was having a drink with her partner and sisters before heading to the game. The season ticket-holder said the team's return was great for the city. "Everyone just reminisces about the last time they were in Christchurch."

A sellout crowd of more than 21,000 saw the ABs win 22-19.

- APNZ

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