Tensions high but test goes off without trouble

By Sophie Ryan, Patrice Dougan

Positive vibe from rugby supporters as fans take to walking and public transport like ‘ducks to water’

The All Black haka goes off with a bang before the start of the first rugby test against England at Eden Park. Police report no trouble or arrests despite the sell-out crowd of more than 47,000. Photo / Brett Phibbs
The All Black haka goes off with a bang before the start of the first rugby test against England at Eden Park. Police report no trouble or arrests despite the sell-out crowd of more than 47,000. Photo / Brett Phibbs

More than 47,000 people enjoyed a peaceful and smoothly run rugby international at Eden Park on Saturday, even though tensions were high until the final minute of the All Blacks-England test.

No arrests were made, and public transport helped to get 47,195 spectators to and from the game without major hitches.

Auckland Transport (AT) communications manager Sharon Hunter said the organisation had received positive feedback after the event.

"It's put down to experience," she said.

It was a "two-way thing" and Aucklanders and AT were working together to make the journey to and from Eden Park easier for everyone.

"It's down to Auckland getting used to using buses and walking to major events," she said.

Fans were walking, taking buses and trains or cycling to major events, and they were "taking to it like ducks to water".

"Things are changing in our city."

However, she wouldn't go as far as to say that public transport would always be running smoothly from now on.

"We're not that naive, and we wouldn't ever promise perfect service," she said.

Ms Hunter said she hoped to get similar feedback from the next test match or major event in Auckland.

"We like to keep our customers happy - now the All Blacks have to keep us happy."

Senior Sergeant Greg Sowter, of the Auckland Central District command centre, said there were "no issues at Eden Park or the environs around Eden Park".

"I believe it was a fairly standard night after the rugby. It was busy around Kingsland, where it normally is where people socialise, but nothing out of the ordinary."

There was a "significant amount of police" at Eden Park and the surrounding area, but the tactics were no different to what is usually rolled out for big rugby games, he said.

"We don't just pack up and leave at the end of the night. We focus on the bars in the area and ensure they don't kick off afterwards. There's a bit of work done by the police in the local area around the pubs and clubs. But nothing that we don't normally do."

The only complaint received by the Herald suggested security had been too heavy-handed by hassling some England fans who had draped flags over the railings in front of the upper East stand.

Security officers had apparently been sent by Eden Park management.

Stadium management could not be reached for comment.

Meanwhile, the team arrived in Dunedin last night, where the second test is to be played at Forsyth Barr Stadium on Saturday.

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About 200 people greeted the team.

All Black captain Richie McCaw told the crowd it was great to be back in Dunedin.

"We're looking forward to Saturday," he said.

The team then took time to sign autographs - on notebooks, rugby shirts and even the arms of some youngsters.

"I'm not going to shower for a long time," said Ben Mann, 7, said showing off a Ma'a Nonu autograph on his arm.

A pipe band piped the world champions out of the airport as they made their way into the city.

- Additional reporting: Otago Daily Times

- NZ Herald

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