Front Row Grunt

Rugby … with cauliflower ears

Notes from New Zealand …

The Canterbury Crusade carries on, despite an early exit from the Cup by the Boks … Now finding our camper van parked in in a motor home park in the middle of Taupo, home to the biggest lake in New Zealand, and home to the Boks for their second two pool games …

Based on the pics of them taking in the jet boating so famous to this region, I am presuming they had much better weather than we are enjoying – it sounds like marbles being thrown onto our van roof such is the veracity of the rain …

I see Bryce Lawrence has been a hot topic in SA – over seven stories on the man that made their way onto Sport24 got over 20 000 reads, this from the close on 160 O00 South Africans who graced the site with their presence on Monday! Far and away the biggest single traffic day for SA’s biggest sport site …

He is pretty big in NZ as well, with several local columnists agreeing with Andre Watson in thinking his performance with the whistle on Sunday to be a very weak one.

The other hot topic in the land of the long white cloud is around how the tournament has not been the financial boon local tourist destinations were hoping it would be. Auckland restaurants outside the Cloud Fan Zone are reporting lower trading numbers than they did at this time last year, as are the establishments outside the Courtney Place district in Wellington. The Whakapapa ski resort – where we found ourselves for two nights – suggest that their numbers are down, with just the odd South African popping in, saying that we green and gold travelers are not of the high spending variety!!

We may not spend a lot, but I can tell you one thing for sure – there are a lot of us in New Zealand! I would say that every third camper van that I see, and they are like city golfs in SA such is their prevalence in this part of the world, has a Springbok or South African flag on it. All four times we caught the train to and from Wellington, we sat next to South Africans. This morning we sat next to Saffers in a coffee shop in Whakapapa, while lunch in a Taupo restaurant was enjoyed next to a bunch of hooligans from Germiston! The Green and Gold Bok jersey is omnipresent in Kiwi land … It’s just a pity they are not being donned by our national team!

Another hot topic over here, and probably the reason we Saffer travelers are not of the high spending variety, are the prices! Much like we did in SA during the Soccer World Cup, prices at hotels and restaurants have shot up, forcing locals indoors. Ticket prices are also of the wounded buffalo variety – I saw a semi final ticket with a face vale of $ 797.00! With a Heineken (the only beer available given their sponsorship deal) going for $ 10.00 at the Wellington Fan Zone and the ticket prices such as they are, I can fully understand many a local’s call to catch the games on tv with his Tui stocked chili-bin and rib filled gas BBQ (Jan Braai stay away my friend … That is the norm over here) …

And while the IRB and the NZRU continue their spat over the commercial structures of the World Cup, the one thing that stands out loud and proud for me is the incredible warmth of the locals. Never ever have I been to a place that is just so happy to have foreigners in their land. Nothing is too much trouble, and everyone we have come into contact with has actually thanked us for making the effort to come to their country! It’s a truly wonderful place to visit and explore …

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The slopes in Whakapapa, a proper camper van, a boer maak n plan, golf on the gorse and a wounded buffalo!

Author: Tank

Ex WP prop with a fair amount of experience in all things media ...

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