Freeley Speaking
An English tourist casts an eye on the Rugby World Cup

Freeley Speaking: Ready for Rugby World Cup knockouts

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Track Mitch's Rugby World Cup adventures with his touring Twitter account: @NotSweetChariot

So after a month in rugby country, I have fled across the water to Australia. I managed to catch all of England's pool games and experienced all New Zealand had to offer.

Unfortunately my funds and pre-booked flights mean I miss out on the quarter finals and beyond. However my month in NZ has been amazing; from bumping into the England Squad on that Sunday in Queenstown to swimming with dolphins in Kaikoura, I have had a blast.

The hospitality my touring mate Greg and I have experienced in New Zealand has been unbelievable, from our student hosts in Dunedin and the help on our Twitter account for our stays in Wellington, Dunedin and Taupo. We've connected with so many people in this month in New Zealand.

The slogan for the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand was "The world is coming to play", and I ran into fans and players from every team at the tournament. From proud Kiwi support of the Romanian side, to finding out about the haka, my experiences of the tournament have been great - aside from over expensive beer in the stadium and in some central bars.

Unsurprisingly New Zealand has benefited from the influx of fans from across the world and they deserve it. I have felt welcomed by the Kiwis during my time on the other side of the world.

More importantly in my time in New Zealand I have turned my attention to the All Blacks.

Before my visit to New Zealand I was clearly aware of the All Blacks, knowing of how they are feared in world rugby. But now, after a month in a country which is undeniably a nation in union, who are supporting the men in black (even if that momentarily changed when the Warriors played in the NRL grand final last weekend), I get the excitement and the hype behind the side.

They play rugby the way as it was meant to be played, fast attacking rugby with plenty of flair. A game day in New Zealand for the All Blacks is a truly special occasion and on home soil for an international tournament it is a unique feeling. I feel lucky to have experienced this.

However to all the positive excitement for the All Blacks, everyone I have spoken to said the nation would sink into a depression if somehow the Rugby World Cup is not won after 24 years. I just hope that this doesn't happen. Because after England, your All Blacks are my team.

Even though I am in Australia I will be donning my black England top for both England and New Zealand matches, perhaps the most symbolic and controversial of tops to wear on such an occasion.

Even though I'm not in rugby country I will still be following events eagerly, and have maintained all of my contacts who helped out with previous blog posts. Seeing as I'm on the other side of the world I can still offer you a unique fan insight to the tournament, even if that is only dodging the abuse from Aussies for supporting both England and the All Blacks, whilst also giving an Australian perspective of them (hopefully) crashing out to South Africa on Sunday.

So finally a big thank you to everyone who has helped me in my time in New Zealand, from people on Twitter to the comments online, I am truly glad you were able to make writing whilst in New Zealand so enjoyable. I will continue to write right up until after the final and give you my views on England and New Zealand from Australia.

Let's hope the knockout phases can deliver and make this a memorable World Cup.

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