This is a photo from McDonalds’ special Rugby World Cup menu. I would suggest adding the following menu items. A low calorie bag of hot air for Australia. A very blunt instrument (probably a spoon) for South Africa. Something bland and disappointing for England. A bag of sour grapes for Stephen Jones to eat. A doormat for France after their first performance. And nothing dangerous that the Kiwis might choke on.
We touched down in Marseilles to the amazing news that Argentina had convincingly beaten the hosts France in the opening match. This is shocking news as the team that comes second in the so called pool of death will head to Cardiff to face the All Blacks. France ideally wanted to delay this encounter until Paris for the final where they would have had home ground advantage. Now they are playing for their lives and have to beat Ireland just to have a chance to progress out of the pool.
It took us a couple of hours to clear customs and clear up the booking mess made by our Etap hotel after they gave out rooms out to anyone and everyone who asked for them before we arrived. Thankfully we asked for a room from another couple and all was sorted out.
By the time we caught up with Russ, Russ, Cam and Phil who took an earlier flight they were well smashed. I took a great video of Phil ripping of a locked drinks fridge. There was little chance of getting caught as the French bar owners were drowning their sorrows.
Up at 11 the next day the nine of us decided to walk to the game as it was a very sunny day. Stopped for a beer on the way. When we got to the stadium we settled in and Cam spent forty euros on alcohol free beer for everyone. That was nice of him.
The Italians made an early mistake by ignoring the Haka. The snub must have really ticked off the All Blacks because it only took them 68 seconds to score their first try. Eighty minutes later the Italians had let in 10 more tries and the All Blacks took the game 64 – 14. Allowing the Italians one intercept try and another late one off a poorly judged kick in our own 22. The intercept was the worrying one as it was an intercept by Australia that put us out of the last world cup and we seem to give one away every game these days.
After the game we had a couple of beers (with alcohol) and a meal for the first court session. After only 24 hours on tour we had enough fines to finish off a bottle of Lemoncini between the 9 of us.
An all night drinking session followed. Later on in the evening we even met Brad Butterworth OBE the Kiwi yachtsman who won us the Americas cup and then went to work for another syndicate and won it back off us. It didn’t make him very popular at home. He was very approachable and seemed like a good guy.
I went home around one or two and managed to dislocate my thumb on the way. Luckily it popped straight back in. Some of the boys who got in around five were warned by friendly locals that they were drinking with that it was too dangerous for them to stay out. Apparently some of the other locals were looking for a fight with Kiwis and it was no longer safe to be out in Marseilles. We woke the next day to find out that three of our group had been pick-pocketed for mobiles or wallets (although one may have had that done by the local guy she was kissing). Someone also saw a guy on a scooter try to steal a handbag off the passenger seat of a parked car. Marseilles is a nice town but it seems you have to be pretty vigilant or the locals will rob you blind.
If you are travelling to Marseilles make sure you read this guide to spotting pockpocketers first.
On Sunday we had a relaxed start and the boys had a topless swim (when in Rome) with the locals at one of the beaches.
In other rugby news. A lot of the minnow teams made their major league counterparts look decidedly average. Samoa were only down 9-7 after 30 minutes. Ireland barely subdued Namibia 32-17. America made England work for every point of their 28-10 victory. And Canada led Wales 17-9 after 45 minutes.