Aussie Rugby World Cup fans bet on a double victory

By Michael Dickison

The Wallabies celebrate after their win against the Springboks. Photo / Mark Mitchell
The Wallabies celebrate after their win against the Springboks. Photo / Mark Mitchell

The Wallabies have nothing to fear about Eden Park and their losing streak is due to be broken, say members of the 1986 team who last won at the All Black fortress.

And Australian rugby fans are already assuming a victory, booking out flights not only this week for the Rugby World Cup semifinals but also next week for the finals - at up to 60 per cent more than normal demand.

Then-flanker Simon Poidevin and halfback Nick Farr-Jones told the Herald the supposed Eden Park hoodoo would have no effect on Australia.

"None at all. You've got to break a long losing streak at some point, and there's no better place to do it than the biggest stage of the Rugby World Cup," Farr-Jones said.

The senior players would be unaffected by any talk of a curse, and the younger players would play uninhibited either way, he said.

Since the 1986 triumph, the Wallabies have lost at Eden Park for 24 years through 12 matches against the All Blacks, most recently a 30-14 drubbing in August.

And they have lost at Eden Park even against other teams; their only game there at the World Cup has been their upset loss to Ireland.

But the playing field had never bothered the 1986 team and it would not bother this year's team, Farr-Jones said.

"It's still 100 metres one way and 70 the other."

Poidevin said this weekend's fixture had more similarities to 1986 than intervening test matches.

The 1986 test had come at the end of a long tour in New Zealand, and like this year's World Cup squad, the team had become used to playing in the country - unlike at one-off tests when teams had little time to become acclimatised to local conditions, he said.

"In 86 we had a tour leading into the final test match. We had spent a lot of time in New Zealand before the team got to Eden Park, and we were battle-hardened and used to the New Zealand conditions," Poidevin said.

Former Wallaby coach Bob Dwyer dismissed the idea that Australia were at a disadvantage playing at Eden Park.

"The longer their losing streak goes on, the sooner it's going to end. I don't pay much attention to the ground and all these things. The important thing is the opposition."

The present Wallaby coach, New Zealander Robbie Deans, said the so-called curse was irrelevant to the weekend's match.

"It's the first occasion where we've played them in a semifinal of a World Cup at Eden Park. So there's no history," he told media this week.

Australia made it through to the semifinals after a hard-fought 11-9 victory over the Springboks in Wellington.

Since the win, flight bookings from Australia have surged to 60 per cent above normal levels at Air New Zealand.

The carrier has now added two extra flights and moved four others on to bigger planes to accommodate the demand.

"Australians are clearly optimistic about their team's chances - there has also been an increase in bookings for the finals weekend," said spokeswoman Brigitte Ransom.

The airline has brought in bigger planes to get the Australian fans back home on Monday, October 24, the day after the World Cup final.

The last time Australia faced the All Blacks, in Brisbane in August, they came out on top 25-20 to win the Tri Nations. They have not beaten New Zealand twice in a row since 2001, but they have also never lost to the All Blacks at a World Cup, winning in 1991 and 2003.

- NZ Herald

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