Rugby World Cup 2011 has been a blast, reminding ourselves how good we can be. And being at Eden Park from 7am on the day of the final is a very special memory

I've just come from Eden Park on the morning of the Rugby World Cup final, and I've got to say it was a treat to be there in the silence and calm, knowing that in 12 hours the place will be a cauldron of hope, nerves and excitement.

There is something about live sport. I remember reading a New Yorker piece years ago on the Murdoch expansion into sport; when he was buying not just the TV rights but the teams and stadia as well. One of his lieutenants made the telling point that in a world where there's nothing new under the sun and every sitcom follows the same formula and you know more or less how every big move it going to end inside the first ten minutes, sport has immense value.

It's the unknown. The potential for upset. The hope and fervour. The lack of a script.

I tend to think that the Cup will have little impact on the election, regardless of the result. The fact it's being rated a success does the incumbents no harm, but neither does it do them any huge favours. People expected the best.

Having said that, I read a piece recently about how odd moods and unrelated events influence voting patterns. Supposedly Woodrow Wilson took a hit in New Jersey one election because of a flu outbreak - nothing remotely his fault, but people felt sick and tired and so voted for change.

So who really knows?

Today it's about being part of something bigger than ourselves. I know lots of people won't be watching and we in the media talk about "everyone" being glued to the game when many would still rather curl up with a good book.

But there is something special about being part of a great communal activity; of looking down the street and knowing this person and that person are part of the same thing; we're not strangers today. We're fans. We're New Zealand United.

I love that feeling. It's one of the reasons I keep coming home from overseas.

The All Blacks tradition also speaks so much to our independent place in the world and our down-to-earth, never-say-die convictions -- the Originals who taught us that we were as good as our colonial masters; the Maori All Blacks who demanded equality of respect, at least; and the stance we took (eventually) on apartheid.

Then there's the two-flag nation point I've banged on about. This tournament has made us wonderfully inclusive and accepting of our differences. Long may it last.

I've got to say, Michael Jones is the greatest All Black of my lifetime, and to have him on Q+A this morning was a buzz. Ignoring his politics, he's such a lovely man. And David Kirk was there, the man with the golden touch. A buzz to start the day with those two men.

And not only that, they signed a t-shirt for Micah, our two-year old. Very cool.

To be there with the sprinklers going fft-fft, the lawnmower painting the pitch with its broad strokes of green, and sense of anticipation in the air.

Kirk said when he came into the park he felt the same sense of dread he used to feel arriving as a player - the expectation to perform and to win.

So enjoy today everyone; enjoy being part of something that isn't just about the individual, but is about the power of the collective and the energy of the crowd, and is about our pride as a feisty, world-beating nation.

Go the All Blacks.

Comments (2)

by Chris de Lisle on October 23, 2011
Chris de Lisle

This is a great thing.

But I think that for those of us who "would still rather curl up with a good book," this 'power of the collective' is precisely why we bang on about it. Rugby is a huge part of our national identity, so for those of us who aren't into it, we fear exclusion from the New Zealand national identity.

Which is OK. I don't have to be included in every aspect of New Zealandishness. But I think that's why we go on about it so much. We're not just being party poopers.

by Tim Watkin on October 24, 2011
Tim Watkin

It's fair enough to keep the rest of us alert, Chris. But the main point you made yourself – it's not just rugby that defines us. And rugby only works like it does because it (and the games played) encapsulates other things about our NZness - that rugged independence, that mix of self-doubt and stubbornnes, and quiet heroics.

You can also find that in a Crump or Gee novel or a McCahon painting or whatever.

Sometimes the masses exclude the other, but that happends everywhere. Especially with sport. Football in the UK or Brazil... cricket in India or Pakistan... on and on.

But even aside from that part of our identity, there are others too... The traditions of Sheppard, Rutherford, Alley, Te Whiti, the Finns etc

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