Saturday, October 15 (Day 44) (Continued)
“Wayyyy-les, Wayyyy-les”. Blame it on the cider but I do find myself contributing towards a chant in support of the Welsh team.
Wales look like they are going to annihilate France. Nobody would have it that Wales could make it to the final. The worst were the Irish. After they beat Australia they started arriving here in droves. (My theory is that half of them are leaving the sinking ship that is the state of Ireland and will accidentally end up staying here and working). But, regardless, thousands of Irish suddenly arrived here about ten days ago; convinced they are going to win the tournament. I didn’t meet one that gave the Welsh a genuine chance of beating them. And that is terrible arrogance. Terrible arrogance. My lovely Nan is Irish, so nobody can accuse me of being an English xenophobe, but sometimes I do think the Irish are a cliché within a cliché within a cliché. They have the worst women at this tournament, hands down, even surpassing the English ‘ladies’ for beer bellies, foul and coarse language, up-their-arse misplaced attitude, unfriendliness and ugliness. The men are far more palatable, of course, but I do get really, really ###### off with the Irish-are-the-life-of-the-party nonsense that the media keeps spouting. No, they are not. We all are. The English supporters have been brilliant, for example. The Scots have been up for a good time throughout this tournament. And, don’t tell me the Irish have the best supporters, because it is plainly a lie. The best supporters at this tournament are from Argentina. No issue. Vamos los pumas.
18 minutes: Warburton sent off. Game over.
A red card for that! What the hell? I think any other team in this tournament, with the exception of New Zealand, would roll over and die now, faced with 60 minutes playing with a man down. But this young Wales team is a bit special. In fact, if James Hook had his kicking head on today they would be out of sight of the French.
With their backs well and truly up against the wall, Wales score a try. If this is converted they will go ahead of France. Damn! He’s hit the post.
With the clock ticking down the French throw a defensive wall up to try and prevent the Welsh from getting the one penalty kick or try that will send them through. Halfpenny steps up and kicks from the half way line. It looks like it’s gone over the posts but it’s just dipped marginally underneath. Wales have missed four kicks, three of them quite straightforward. And with those missed chances the French manage to hold out. They’ve won 9-8 and are in the world cup final. They’ve done what the Italians have done so many times at the football world cup and ground out results that they haven’t really deserved. I feel very, very sorry for the Welsh. My God, they even had me singing for them at the match. I’m sure the All Blacks will murder the French after they dispose of the Aussies tomorrow.
Tonight, Auckland is Soddam and Gomorrah mixed with a touch of Newcastle. It is a hell of a party with tens of thousands spilling out onto the streets. For many visiting rugby fans, this is their last weekend at the world cup, and many of them are here in Auckland. It is wild, raucous and full on. Wherever you look, whichever street you take, you see young Auckland girls, not-so-young visiting supporters and Auckland home boys collapsing and falling over drunk on the pavement and roads. I reckon the entire New Zealand police force must be out just trying their best to calm down the party-goers a tad.
I last till 3 but after 12 hours of drinking, rugby and rugby chat it is all getting a bit too chaotic, drunken and raucous for my taste in town. I slip out the side door of Degree without telling all the lads I’m leaving. Otherwise, I will never get out of here. I also need to slip past several patrolling police to get into the sealed car park, where I’m kipping in the back of George-Michael’s van again.