Wednesday 21 February 2018

Value still to be had but at a high price

IRB CEO Mike Miller told us last week that the latest figures from NZ indicated a force of approximately 95,000 tourists heading south for the big gig. If that comes to pass then we fear for the ability of Kiwis to cope. The infrastructure isn't tooled up for a mob of that size.

Not only that, but he pointed out that prices were coming down for accommodation at the tail end of the tournament, where previously the quotes were of an order that would rescue an ailing economy.

So we looked at arriving in Auckland for a 10-night holier taking in the semis, third-fourth place game, and final. You can get a 'superior' one-bedroomed apartment which sleeps two -- with brekkie -- in the city centre for only €250 a night. And that's down from €330. Or if you're prepared to slum it in a three-star jobbie near the airport, you can have a double room for €162 per night, and that's a reduction of €23.

What's more, there are tickets still available to most of NZ's pool games and all of Australia's and organisers are plugging their cousins across the ditch to hop over and take up the space. There are even seats for the quarters (€112) and semis (€289). Is that value or what?

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We are hardly alone in seeing the Wallaby game as pivotal in Pool C so anything about referee Bryce Lawrence, who will be on duty that day in Auckland, is of interest. And if he's driving the Aussies mad then all the better. Check out this link on YouTube to see what had them jumping up and down.

To get a flavour of it, imagine it's Ireland instead of Australia attacking the Springbok line when Bryce blows for half-time. You might find it hard to sustain the image though for the counterattacking is so good it's hard to picture Ireland, for whom the counter play is considered a crime that never pays, pulling off something similar.

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In 2007, Graham Henry was lacerated not just for failing to win the World Cup, but for doing so having undermined the quality of the Super 14 that season by withdrawing front-line All Blacks at key moments -- in order that they might, eh, win the World Cup. We were reminded of that when for yesterday's Test he picked a shadow side to go to Port Elizabeth, where New Zealand had never won in four visits. No sign of McCaw, Carter, Thorn, Owen Franks, Read, Smith or Muliaina.

It put the Kiwis in a slightly awkward position given complaints from their CEO Steve Tew when the Boks left their treasures at home when going to Wellington for the first leg of the Tri Nations fixture. It was reinforcement that in a World Cup year there is only the World Cup.

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Those of you heading to Auckland for the final will be disappointed to learn that the Sheep Run is off. As part of the Real New Zealand festival it had been planned to run sheep down Queen Street, a busy shopping thoroughfare bang in the middle of town, on the Monday before the final. Great idea or what!

"We do not believe it is healthy nor (sic) conducive to showcasing New Zealand to play out this controversy in front of the world's media and international guests," a spokesman for New Zealand 2011 told NZPA last week. "Although we have been assured by the organisers that no harm will come to the sheep, this runs against the humane principles held by the SPCA around the use of animals for entertainment."

Fair enough. What about borrowing from that popular Irish festival game of marking a grid in the town square, letting a cow loose, and taking bets on where said animal will make its first deposit? Or would that class as using an animal for entertainment?

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Among a clatter of award winners at the Guinness Rugby Writers last week was one Seamus Oliver Campbell who was inducted to the Hall of Fame. And never has there been a more deserving inductee. The video clip preceding the presentation ran through his heroics in the 1982 Triple Crown, among other campaigns, and you thought what a pity he didn't have the opportunity of playing in a World Cup. When it arrived in 1987 it was too early for Ireland, and too late for our greatest outhalf of the post-Kyle era.

-- Brendan Fanning

Sunday Indo Sport

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