I was lucky enough to be on a lovely launch right in the middle of Auckland Harbour to watch the opening ceremony fireworks and we couldn't have picked a better spot if we'd tried.
I watched most of the Pool games sitting in a mini grandstand, in an open-air marquee with a cocktail in my hand, whilst on a very relaxing holiday in Rarotonga and I managed to attend two awesome semi-final games. The first of these was the Australia v Ireland game, which was a huge amount of fun, to the extent that I lost my voice for a little while from all the cheering and singing! The second was the nailbiting and very worrying (for a while) game between New Zealand and Argentina. Both games were so incredibly different and thoroughly enjoyable.
We watched the other games from the comfort of our couch - each game with various family and/or friends and each game being pure excitiment in it's own right.
My partner and I enjoyed a fantastic day wandering around Downtown Auckland the day before the Rugby World Cup final, if for no other reason than to be part of the crowd and soak up the electrifying atmosphere. The Viaduct and Wynyard Quadrant were full of families and happy diners all chatting and laughing, whiile the Cloud and Fan Zone (which were dwarfed by two large cruise ships) and the whole of Downtown Auckland was full of smiling faces - people of all ages, from locals to international visitors - the whole place was buzzing! Every second person was dressed in black and the experience was truly magical and incredibily exciting.
We watched the New Zealand v France final with friends and neighbours and couldn't believe it when the All Blacks won by just ONE POINT! Nerve wracking, exciting and riveting right until the last minute! The relief when it was all over was undeniable and a great 'excuse' for us to break open the champagne (French! of course!) and party until 3.00am. Thankully the next day was a public holiday in New Zealand!
We thought about attending the All Black's parade in Queen Street, Auckland, but that's as far as it went. Instead we rounded off the whole exiciting event of the 2011 Rugby World Cup with a lovely day spent sitting in the warm Auckland sunshine on our deck at home, surrounded by our lovely friends and neighbours. And it felt like everything was right with the world..!
It truly was fantastic to be involved in such an international event and we are thrilled to have been given this opportunity, and of course, huge, huge, congratulations to our gracious champions, the New Zealand All Blacks!
The last word, from All Blacks Captain, Riche McCaw - "Everyone's part of the All Blacks. We're just the ones that go out and play."