David Fisher

David Fisher is a senior reporter for the NZ Herald.

Park test goes well - just like the rugby

Martin Snedden enjoys the All Blacks vs Wallabies game from the top of the temporary stand at Eden Park. Photo / Doug Sherring
Martin Snedden enjoys the All Blacks vs Wallabies game from the top of the temporary stand at Eden Park. Photo / Doug Sherring

The good news in Rugby World Cup year is this: everything is going to be just fine, as long as we follow last night's plan.

In the test (match) the All Blacks turned on a 30-14 victory. And in the Real Test (off the field), the organisation left the fans happy - albeit with a few kinks yet to be ironed out.

Public transport appeared to work well: 18,000 fans were brought to Eden Park by train. Busloads were also shipped in, although fans closer to the stadium said the buses were filled by the time they reached Mt Eden and didn't stop to try and cram any more on board.

By the 7.35pm kickoff, the almost 55,000-strong crowd was already seated, proving that the transport and ticketing operation had been largely seamless. Fans had been streaming through the gates since 5pm, many having heeded official advice to arrive in good time. Almost every spectator was given a free All Black flag.

A 240-strong police presence was highly visible, along with hundreds of security staff and stadium helpers.

Rugby World Cup boss Martin Snedden was among those who caught the train to Kingsland station for the game. He said he'd received only positive feedback about how well the stadium had coped.

"The signs are good so far. We will have a full debrief after the match, where we will have a very close look over things.

"I've had a good walk around the ground and had a look from various angles, and so far everything has worked well.

"But then, everyone's mood is good when the All Blacks are playing well."

Auckland Mayor Len Brown caught the train from Britomart and spent the game seated next to All Black legend Graham Mourie.

"There were lots of people saying 'Good job, Mr Mayor'," he said, "and you had this sense of optimism in the crowd. At the ground, there is an outstanding presence of police and security who are highly visible.

"I've had major oversight of this Eden Park project to make sure everything is done right and I am very confident."

All Black legend Colin "Pinetree" Meads, arriving with his family, said the stadium looked "terrific".

The crowd at last night's game was the largest since Meads' playing days more than 50 years ago.

"Today is [Eden Park's] big test. It has to cope. Rugby grounds are different altogether from when I was playing."

Murray Deaker and wife Sharon had climbed aboard at 4.45pm train and arrived at the ground just 22 minutes later.

He said: "The public transport works brilliantly. Look at the faces of the people coming along. Everybody is so happy and joyful. We all want it to work. We have been more than ready for this bloody thing for a long time."

Former Australian rugby union boss John O'Neill said arrived on a VIP bus and said Eden Park was "a fitting venue for the Bledisloe Cup match tonight and for the World Cup final".

- Herald on Sunday

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