Bernard Orsman

Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

Rugby World Cup fans party hard to celebrate All Black victory

Crowds of fans at Queens Wharf. Photo / Sarah Ivey
Crowds of fans at Queens Wharf. Photo / Sarah Ivey

The Auckland waterfront became one big Party Central yesterday as wave after wave of black descended on the central city from breakfast time and into the night.

By lunchtime city streets were teeming with rugby fans and by mid-afternoon Queens Wharf was full, with the most committed seated on tarmac for a ringside seat in front of two enormous TV screens at the Cloud.

The sea of rugby fans, most of whom wore black, led to the closure of Queen St all the way to Mayoral Drive about 5pm, and Customs St at 6pm.

Shortly after 7pm, cup organisers issued a statement telling people thinking of coming into the city to head to regional fan zones at Albany, Henderson and Mangere town centre.

By kick-off, all five fan zones in the city - Queens Wharf, Captain Cook Wharf, Marsden Wharf, Madden St at Wynyard Quarter and Aotea Square - were chocker with more than 50,000 All Black fans, a smattering of blue, white and red French fans and the odd Springbok jersey.

The wharves were full by 8.45 last night.

Central sections of Wellesley St and Victoria St were also closed from just before 10pm, as a black sea of pedestrians spread further out from the waterfront.

More than 20,000 people walked the fan trail from Britomart to Eden Park.

Five North Shore children, Ella Hine, Oliver Charlesworth, Anton Hine, Simba Moors and Bayden Moors, aged 7 to 11, summed up the party mood on the waterfront when they climbed on to the keel of the America's Cup yacht KZI at the Viaduct Harbour and did a haka.

One group of Springbok fans were walking round the waterfront with a mock Webb Ellis Cup and the sign, "It's ours until 11pm".

Nine fans were dressed as sheep with the words "All Blacks" on their backs. Said Zoe Wells: "Everyone has been walking up and stroking us."

Andrew Hansen said he was aged only 1 when the All Blacks last won the cup in 1987. "I'll be here yelling and screaming for them all night. It's going to be the night of my life."

A balmy Auckland afternoon meant many fans chose the Madden St fan zone and open spaces at Wynyard Quarter to watch the final.

The grassed areas created a "picnic" type atmosphere.

The apparel of choice was the traditional All Black jersey, but the number of "Keep Calm Piri's On" T-shirts were a testament to the popularity of the All Black halfback.

Those who arrived early got a special preview on the big screen. The 1987 Rugby World Cup final between the All Blacks and France set the scene as music boomed and alcohol flowed.

Stephen Heslin and Thomas Arnald were enjoying the atmosphere on the waterfront. Mr Arnald said he didn't want to miss out on the fan zone experience before the World Cup ended. "This is my first time here," he said. "I'm pretty blown away by the crowds."

Peter, a fan from Ponsonby, said he preferred Wynyard Quarter to the other fan zones. "I like the grass here. I like sitting out in the open space and soaking up the vibe."

Kirsty, from Mt Eden, said the atmosphere was buzzing. "You can really feel it."

- NZ Herald

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