England rugby great: NZ is 'awesome'

By Paul Harper

Former England captain Phil Vickery (inset) says New Zealand is 'such a beautiful place'. Photo / Tourism Auckland
Former England captain Phil Vickery (inset) says New Zealand is 'such a beautiful place'. Photo / Tourism Auckland

Former England captain Phil Vickery is confident the Rugby World Cup is going to be a "great tournament" and is encouraging the English to make the trip to New Zealand.

In a travel piece for the Daily Mail, the former British Lions prop said his time in New Zealand was "awesome".

"Everything about it. I didn't even have jet lag too badly," he said.

Auckland proved to be a highlight for the 35-year-old. "I mean, just the fact you can be in the city centre and then hop on a ferry and 25 minutes later you're on an island in the middle of nowhere. I love that kind of lifestyle."

In Dunedin, the 2003 World Cup winner gave the city's new indoor World Cup venue, the Forsyth Barr Stadium, his stamp of approval.

"The England lads will love it. It all got me thinking that this is a great model for the northern hemisphere.

It could really change the way leagues and timings happen - you won't have to worry about the elements at all."

The Otago Peninsula "totally blew me away", he said.

"I could have spent days there, surrounded by the ocean and the wind. It was paradise. We saw penguins and seals, and they had no fear, it was just a real privilege."

The Englishman described Wellington as a "blast", and brought back memories of England's 2003 victory over the All Blacks in the city.

"'And I could have stayed in Wellington for weeks. I really enjoyed Zealandia, which is a sanctuary for all sorts of local wildlife and not far from the centre, which is like walking through Jurassic Park, just totally mind blowing."

Vickery is confident New Zealand will put on a good World Cup and encourages Englishmen to make the trip half way around the world for the tournament.

"The Rugby World Cup down there is going to be awesome, they're putting so much into it, like the Real New Zealand festival that's running alongside it. They've had a tough time with the earthquake in Christchurch but don't think for a second that's a reason not to visit. Go and watch the rugby but have a holiday too, it's such a beautiful place."

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