All Blacks 76, Italy 14, French 2 mobiles and a wallet

McDonalds World Cup menu
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.

The Boys with Brad Butterworth OBE

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.

THE 6th RUGBY WORLD CUP BEGINS TODAY

The moment that rugby fans the world over have been waiting for begins today. The 7th Rugby World Cup kicks off in Paris with a game between France and Argentina.

New Zealand’s mighty All Blacks are the favourites again. In fact we have been expected to win most of the times we have entered but somehow it doesn’t work out that way. We won the first World Cup at home against the French in 1987 but since then we have struggled. In 1991 we were outclassed by Australia. In 1995 the entire team got food poisoning before the final in South Africa. In 1999 we were devastated by the French in the final 30 minutes of our semi final. Many Kiwis regard this as a worse offence than the bombing of the Rainbow Warrior in Auckland harbour in 1985 by French Secret Service agents. Last time in 2003 we were also knocked out in the semi-final by the Australians who the whole world agreed were a far inferior side to the All Blacks. I wish someone has told the 15 Australians on the field.

As we are consistently ranked the number one team in the world it’s a bloody long four years each time we fail to bring home the cup. Our main competition this time should come from the South Africans who have an awesome defence but struggle to score tries unless the get a lucky intercept and the French who have hit a run of form and have the home ground advantage.

Tonight I fly out to Marseilles with the seven mates who are coming to all the games with me. The eight of us have seven weekends partying hard in Marseilles, Lyon, Toulouse, Edinburgh, Cardiff and two in Paris if we make it that far.

Wish us luck.

Glastonbury Mud Bath 2007

I am fortunate enough to have a ticket for Glastonbury 2007. The previous two times I have been to the festival the weather has been sunny or sunny intervals, as they say in weather circles. This time it appears that my luck has run out and the typical Glastonbury mud bath is expected. There have even been televised news reports of gumboot (wellingtons as they call them here) shortages in the UK.

This is the BBC weather forecast for the weekend.

Glastonbury Weather 2007

Heading Home

Got up and packed. Did the handshake hug things with my brothers from different mothers. The hugs had to be those blokey Kiwi ones with clenched fists so no one thinks anyone is gay. It was still pretty moving in a macho kind of way.

Took a taxi to the airport and found a cheap as direct flight to Gatwick leaving later in the day.

The flight was delayed so to kill a little time I bought a US$170 cup of coffee. Admittedly there were two huge taxi rides up into the Blue Mountains and a tour of Craigton Estate coffee plantation. Apparently the Blue Mountains provide perfect growing conditions for growing the temperamental arabica coffee plant and thus the best coffee in the world. 85% of the coffee from Craigton Estate is exported to the Japanese, who are prepared to pay a premium for it. The tour was well worth it but the guide lost me when he said the growing conditions were so perfect that BlueMountain has 65% less caffeine than regular coffee. What is the point then?

Got on flight. Hardly slept. Got off the red-eye at Gatwick wrecked from lack of sleep as per usual.

Bad packing

I took a number of things with me that I took/paid for and never used. These include:

  • A flight from London to Antigua (lost passport and missed original flight)
  • A flight from Antigua to St Lucia (lost passport and missed original flight)
  • A flight from Jamaica to Barbados (got knocked out and didn’t go to the final)
  • A flight from St Lucia to Antigua (got knocked out and came straight home from Jamaica)
  • A flight from Antigua to London (got knocked out and came straight home from Jamaica)
  • A sleeping bag (what was I thinking)
  • Hiking shoes (wore jandals every day)
  • Formal shoes in case we went somewhere nice (insanity)
  • Long pants in case we went somewhere nice (further insanity)

All in all a lot of expensive or bulky unnecessary items.

#%@¶æ¿$^ß@§&

The Sri Lankans stuffed us we thought they would.

The day started badly when the Sri Lankan fans who received their tickets from their team had hired a bloody band with brass and big drums to play up a storm any time Sri Lanka did anything at all. The only time they stopped playing was when we got Jayasuriya out for only 1 run. So we chanted “Where’s the drums! Where’s the drums!”. Thankfully the television people were in the next stand over any they asked them to move as the racket they were making was getting onto the live cricket feed.

After that the day went from bad to worse. Sri Lanks outperformed us with bat and ball and we never really looked like we had any answers. It was a really pity that we slipped quietly out of the world cup instead of going out with a fight.

The Kiwi boys did what we do best and got wasted together one last time.

Legend

Spend the morning looking into flights. Service in the West Indies works on West Indian time which is slightly faster than a complete stop – but only just. So didn’t really get anywhere but have found out what some of my options might be. So much depends on the game tomorrow. Wish I could say I was more confident. I know the Kiwi team have an amazing game of cricket in them, we just need them to pull it out tomorrow against the Sri Lankans.

Went to the Bob Marley Museum in Kingston. Partly because there is not much else to do in Kingston but mostly because I love his music and wanted to find our more about him. The museum was awesome and included his triple platinum award for Legend that has sold over twenty million copies worldwide. The funniest part by far was a clip on the tour video from his 1979 Babylon by Bus Tour that included scenes of Kiwis at Western Springs (in Auckland) stoned off their lids. Totally unexpected and completely hilarious.

After that looked around town for a Kiwi flag. I even walked through a couple of areas after being explicitly told that they were to dangerous for tourist. Even ‘big’ tourists. My confidence was bolstered by the fact that school had just been let out and there were loads of kids around to form a circle and scream “FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT!” if anything kicked off. Despite my amazing bravery I didn’t find a flag. Plan ‘B’ is to run through the reception of the hotel that the Kiwi team is staying in and rip one off the ceiling and then to make for the back door at top speed. Will do a proper cost benefit analysis on this one over a few beers.

Bob Nesta Hubbers

A difficult day

Struggled to get up early and discovered that Woza and Hummus (The Funnel Guy) never made it home. One of the people from the yacht rental place helped us get the boat moored onto the marina. He confused the hell out of me saying things like tie a line off on the mid-cleat. Since he didn’t seem to be speaking English I let Judge help him out. It was never like this when Woza was skipper.

Woza and Hummus turn up wasted after drinknig right through at Banana Bar. Just in time to pack before the taxi to the airport. Hummus who has already lost his phone and rubber fist (don’t ask) turned up without our funnel Denise. After stopping at a couple of pubs on the way to the airport we are resigned to the fact that it is gone for good. We have changed his nickname to The Guy.

Our last job was photos and drunken songs for Nathalie. It is sad to leave our floating home for the last few weeks. We will all miss her and the great adventures we had with her.

All that is left to do is fly to Jamaica. And boy did we fly.

Clouds arranged in nice white lines

Kiwis are massacred

We woke to the news that the Kiwis had lost the rugby league to the Australians.

In one of the most clinical displays of cricket I have ever seen the Aussies put us to the sword (more like chain-sword) and won by 215 runs. At this stage it is hard to imagine us getting past the Sri Lankans in Jamaica and making the final. Gutted.

Naturally we got wasted and avoided Australians all night.

We usually park in a marina so it is easy for us to come back to the boat when we want. Because we are returning Nathalie tomorrow we have moved to True Blue marina. Unfortunately they didn’t have a berth so we are moored in the harbour. Naturally we get totally separated after the game, end up at different pubs and crawl home in various states. Beige does all the hard yards and drops Toddie off at midnight. Judge and I follow at 2am and Wendy and Beige follow at 3am. Beige even got up at 4am to have one last look for Hummus and Woza but they are MIA.