Here we go! Pedalling off to the Rugby World Cup Final at Twickenham.

Photo by Kevin Mayne

Courtesy of the ticket lottery almost a year ago I am in England for the big match, my first time at Twickenham for many years. One of those bucket list occasions, to attend a world cup final in almost any sport but especially one that I played and then watched most of my life.

Also an opportunity to catch with family and friends who I am connecting via a couple of days of folding bike touring around very wet but gorgeous Autumnal landscapes. “Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness” indeed.

Photo by Kevin Mayne Photo by Kevin Mayne

Very tempting to bike to the game too, but I will content myself to arriving by train tomorrow so a few beverages can be consumed, got to get into the spirit of the occasion after all.

Now the final dilemma. Who to cheer for? England long gone, the other home nations fallen by the wayside leaving an Antipodean challenge between New Zealand and Australia.

All Black Haka

Logically I can say I am a neutral and I am looking forward to an amazing match, even better if it goes to extra time. Emotionally I can say that English sports fans will always cheer for the underdog, which in this case is probably Australia because New Zealand have been so good.

Of course it is also fun to wind up the Kiwi half of the family and various friends all around the globe, although they tend to have a bit of a sense of humour bypass when it comes to rugby. You can easily substitute the word rugby into one of the quotes of Bill Shankly, the legendary Liverpool football manager, who said of the round ball game “Some people believe football is a matter of life and death, I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that”.  (Murray, Stuart – are you reading this?)

But I have conferred with my English colleagues at work, I have had DNA testing done, read the small print and we categorically agree.

It is NOT possible to cheer for Australia. Can’t be done, won’t be done.

Yes we can hope for a nice, tight exciting game. Or we can hope that the All Blacks give the Aussies a right good kicking, that would be just fine. Game on!

To the Stade de France to watch France play the All Blacks at rugby.

Stade de France All Blacks vs FranceI love watching sport in big settings. Feeling the restiveness of the crowd, letting the anticipation build. And when you go to one of the sporting cathedrals, old or new, you are soaking up all the feats that took place before.

Now I am living in continental Europe I have the chance to add a few more special events and venues to my collection.

Stade de France

Stade de France is like a spaceship that has landed in the Paris suburbs. And like many of the modern stadiums it has a great bowl effect that not only gives great sight lines but it magnifies the sound. ”La Marseillaise”, now there is a national anthem to blow your socks off when sung by a passionate French crowd.

I was watching with some New Zealanders but I have to say I was cheering for France. I have been following rugby for about 35 years and for the whole time those big black bullies have loomed over us so I always back any Northern hemisphere side playing against the ABs, even if they are the team of my in-laws.

All Black Haka

An excellent evening, although the bullies won again. Must be the Haka.