Tawhai Rickard has several ways of saying what we all need to hear right now.

"One game doesn't change anything," is one of them.

"Not the end of the world," is another.

But there are two words in particular that hundreds of Pāpāmoa commuters will drive past this week that perfectly sum up the message this loyal All Blacks fan wants to share with his fellow distraught Kiwis.

Advertisement

"Still proud."

As Rickard, 51, woke up on Sunday morning and dusted off that feeling of dread felt by New Zealand rugby fans all around the country, he decided to make a statement.

At the start of the Rugby World Cup in Japan, he and his wife Tania Lewis-Rickard put up a large homemade All Blacks sign on their fence, in full view of the hordes of cars that travel along Tara Rd in Pāpāmoa Beach every day.

Pāpāmoa All Blacks fan Tawhai Rickard has altered the sign on his fence after the weekend's semi-final disaster. Photo / George Novak
Pāpāmoa All Blacks fan Tawhai Rickard has altered the sign on his fence after the weekend's semi-final disaster. Photo / George Novak

Rickard, an artist, told the Bay of Plenty Times last month that he couldn't see any flags flying or other displays of support around the neighbourhood, and so he thought, "I'm going to do something about this".

"The All Blacks are a big part of who we are, it's in the Kiwi psychology. It's always been there and I don't think you can get rid of it," he said at the time.

After the semifinal loss against England on Saturday night, he wanted to make it clear that that hadn't changed.

"We are still proud of our All Blacks team. It is a game. It's a loss. But that's not curtains as far as being an All Blacks fan or who the All Blacks are," Rickard said.

"We've only bowed out of this tournament. It would have been wonderful to win three in a row, because I don't think that ever would have been done again, but it's not to be. It still doesn't make us any less of a side."

Advertisement

On Sunday morning he grabbed a Stanley knife and surgically removed the world cup that was attached to the sign, and wrote "still proud" in white over the top of it.

Rickard gave the world cup to some South African friends of his, told them to hold on to it, and to put it up on their own fence if, come the final whistle, they are crowned world champions. He hopes they are.

"Gosh, I'd like to see South Africa get up and do it," Rickard said.

"I'm supporting the Boks, I want revenge. And I think the Boks are able to do what we couldn't do."

READ MORE:
Rugby World Cup 2019: Kiwis react to All Blacks' gutting loss to England in semi final
No regrets: 'Rugby crazy' fan who got tattoo of All Black's RWC win reacts to defeat
2019 Rugby World Cup: All Blacks bow and thank crowd after disappointing semifinal defeat to England

On Monday morning, Rickard happened to bump into an England supporter on the sidewalk and they started discussing the game, with a bit of friendly banter going both ways.

"The old Pommy gloating came out," Rickard said with a laugh.

He said he reminded the Englishman not to get a big head, before they shook hands and went their separate ways.

Rickard said after the All Blacks finish their last game of the tournament on Friday night – playing Wales for third and fourth – he is going to change the sign again.

He said he will be removing all of the letters except for an "S" and an "A" – for South Africa.

Then, after this weekend, things will return to normal. He will be back to supporting the boys in black.

"The All Blacks will go on," Rickard said, finding yet another way to comfort his fellow fans.

Made with funding from