The official Rugby World Cup Facebook page has more than a million members and climbing. The I Hate the Rugby World Cup Facebook page, set up by a Welsh bloke called Gareth, has just 24.
That is a small insight into how big this thing is. There is no cave deep enough, no mountain range remote enough and no offshore island anywhere in this hemisphere, or possibly any other, on which to hole up and avoid the commotion. It is okay to feel a bit sorry for Gareth, but really he's approaching it all wrong.
There are other countries' rugby teams here now, monster welcome signs made from tyres in the middle of fields that are visible from space, and tasteless chocolate biscuits in the shape of rugby balls being served on Air New Zealand flights. For people who don't give a toss (about 35 per cent of Kiwis according to a survey last month), it is time to channel your inner apathy and consider what the Rugby World Cup can do for you.
It is too late for denial, too desperate to defect. The best thing to do is embrace the fever and sweat it out.
Here, for those who walk among us not knowing their backs from their fronts, their tightheads from their loosies, are the benefits of the RWC for non-believers - 10 ways you can thrive during a month of national hysteria without having to do something extreme, like actually watching a game.
1 Hot guys with cool accents. Everywhere. Never have the words crouch, pause, touch, engage made so much sense. Check out the Argentinians especially: rustic, rugged, effortlessly manly and just a little fashion-forward with their wide-striped jerseys in on-trend pale pastel blue. And the French, Bienvenue! But feel free to make your own list.
2 A politics-free zone. There's an election in November and about now we should be being bombarded with photo opportunities, grinning wannabes, and policies for policies. But ... nothing. Bliss. Sit back and relax until about a week after the tournament final when the country's collective hangover has subsided and candidates are roaming the streets again.
3 Park easy. In Auckland even. Just give Eden Park a very wide berth. But do book into your favourite restaurant around 7pm on game day, drive up to the door and park right outside. Ditto shops, cafes and anywhere else that drives you crazy the rest of the year. However, remember that timing is everything.
4 Bag that promotion. Bosses have been warned to expect lower productivity while the tournament is unfolding. Workers will crowd around TV screens or glue themselves to websites for a large percentage of the working day. The rest of the time they'll be wringing their sweaty hands around the water cooler, trying to convince each other that there are no cracks in the forwards, of course Carter will get it over, and if only they could sort out the lineout, it'd be sweet. Meanwhile, you're the only one at your desk actually doing anything. Just make sure your boss is not too preoccupied with the state of play to notice.
5 Cheap holidays in other places. Bargains galore. Go now. Quick, while there's still time.
6 Money to burn. Yes, the Rugby World Cup can make you money without the need to go near a TAB or make yourself homeless for the duration while the Barmy Army sets up camp in your living room. Here's how it works: you are not forking out for tickets (saving $296 for the cheapest seat at the semi-finals), food and drink at the game (saving at least $50) or for transport to and from. You have not bought an All Blacks jersey (saving $120 depending on when and where you might have purchased it), or any other official memorabilia (of which the sky is the limit). Voila, that's a saving of more than $500. Save more by not buying the most expensive semi-final ticket at $797 and you've saved more than $1000. That, as any mathematician will tell you, all adds up to a pretty decent shopping spree.
7 Psychological wellbeing. While everyone around you rides the rollercoaster of triumph and disappointment before falling off the edge into a black trough of national despair when the plan goes awry, you can sail calmly on, knowing, as you have always known, that an All Blacks defeat is not an occasion for collective heartbreak, an event on which the fate of the universe rests, but rather an inevitability that can be borne with dignity, poise and a small amount of told-you-so for another four years at least.
8 Have you noticed the graffiti has gone, new trees have been planted and the train stations look as smart as Starbucks? Time to enjoy the cleanup. The grubbiness will be back by Christmas.
9 Get in for spring. While everyone else is glued to the telly, go shopping and snap up all the size 12s. Leave it any later and the new season collection will be picked over.
10 Party, party. There are some really great events happening all around the country that are there just because they're fun. Start as you mean to go on with opening night on Friday at Auckland's Queens Wharf. A plethora of Kiwi musos, a huge fireworks and light show, a mass haka and the opening ceremony beamed in live from Eden Park. And it's all free. Get down there and soak up the atmosphere. It's a game of two halves: one on the field, the other in the best party spots around town.