Taking on The All Blacks in Wellington

Guest Post

By: Noah Arshinoff (www.findnoah.com)

After taking 2 days to drive down the south island, we arrived in Wellington, New Zealand’s capital, a few hours before Canada vs. New Zealand rugby watch.  While this was the last game of the tournament for Canada, it was a chance to see the legendary All Blacks play a game at home and an opportunity for us to get decked out in Canada gear.

The lead up to the game was already proof that rugby in New Zealand is equivalent to Hockey in Canada.  The entire town was out in pubs and wearing their team colours.  Flags of all 20 nations competing in the tournament have been flying all over town.  Most of all, the competition has brought out a sense of healthy sportsmanship.  Kiwis and South Africans drink alongside each other before matches, and the masses dressed in black to support the home team embraced us openly.

After a number of drinks it seemed as though the entire city was walking to the stadium grounds.  We were rushing to get to our seats in order not to miss any of the opening spectacle.  One of rugby’s finest traditions is the Haka performed by the All Blacks before each one of their games.  It is a call to battle and surely must have been intimidating to the Canadians already outmatched by a rugby powerhouse.

Our video of the Haka (click to view)

Team Canada thanking the fans

The start of the game was the highlight for Canada. Having scored first, it was the first and last time Canada would lead in the game.  Being so badly outmatched however, made for an incredibly fun atmosphere.  With no Canadian in the crowd expecting their team to win, it turned into a social gathering of 40,000 people.  We befriended a number of Kiwi’s who offered us places to crash throughout the country.

The only time Canada would lead the game (take note of the elapsed time...)


Canadians and Kiwis Unite

After the game, we met up with Greig, a buddy of mine (Noah’s) from High School.  While next weekend in Auckland will be the true party, it was great to catch up after so many years.

Our overall impression of Wellington is that it is a fantastic city and great capital!  You can walk anywhere in about 30 minutes, the streets are littered with cafes and bars, the people are generous and hospitable, and the narrow winding streets offer a charm with European flair that simple isn’t found in North America.  Tomorrow we leave the city and head north.  We don’t know where we are stopping or what we are going to see.  If the trip so far is any indication of what lies ahead, I’m sure we will be impressed by the countryside and the people.

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