RAMBLINGS : Rugby World Cup 2011
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New Zealanders probably don't need any encouragement when it comes to their dedication - some might say obsession - with rugby. However, rugbymania reached new heights during the 2011 Rugby World Cup held around the country in September and October 2011. I was lucky enough to see the grand final and bronze final at Auckland's Eden Park, plus two hard-fought pool games in Whangarei featuring the Northland-based teams Tonga, Canada and Japan. Plenty of photographers were shooting the on-field action, so I decided to focus on the fans instead...
GRAND FINAL: New Zealand v France
Eden Park, Auckland, October 23, 2011. Won by New Zealand 8-7

Parisians Pierre Desbois and Evelyne Boury find new use for a toilet plunger

Professional face-painter Sarah Holland of Auckland flies the New Zealand flag

French fans dance to a World Cup volunteer’s rap-style directions

Whanganui’s Des Greenfield hoists his own version of the Webb Ellis Cup aloft

Naylin and Sandie Appanna of Hamilton celebrate the All Blacks' win

Naylin Appanna was so confident he had a T-shirt printed before the final

Joël Herault of France shows his best pukana

Obelix and friends arrive from Lyon to cheer for the Gauls

Honeymooners Dorian and Alexandra Nouhaillaguet from Grenoble lent their support to both teams

Fans show their support for Les Bleus by painting themselves in the colours of the French flag

Nelson Mandela and his twin brother - or Springbok fans in fancy dress - celebrate the All Blacks' win

Auckland Sikhs wore black turbans in a show of support for the All Blacks

A French fan’s anguish at the final whistle

Heartbreak is etched into the faces of French fans

Rugby World Cup volunteer Pedro Pena of Whangarei with Whanganui lads Dale Cobb and Richard Bennett

A delighted - and relieved - Graham Henry and Ritchie McCaw address the post-match press conference

BRONZE FINAL: Australia v Wales
Eden Park, Auckland, October 21, 2011. Won by Australia 21-18

Auckland’s James Cameron shows his colours at Queen Elizabeth Square

Wallabies fans Matt and Gregry Breen from Gundaroo, New South Wales

Lyn Dixon with daughters Seren (Welsh for Star), 9, and Nia, 11

Wales fan Amie Jones with...

...Steve Mackenzie of the USA and...

...Stephen Jones from Wellington

Welsh fan Karl Nelson mourns his team’s narrow loss in the bronze final at Eden Park

Nick and Amanda Burton of Hong Kong were a little sheepish about their favourite team

Brisbane’s Dan Heathwood, of the Golden Suits supporters’ club, with Janick Alamand of Switzerland

No prizes for guessing which team - or which player - Liam Heiser of Cairns was backing

Who says no one likes Quade Cooper? This Hong Kong family declared their love for the Wallabies captain

Quade Cooper hobbles off the pitch with a leg brace and a ‘We love you Quade’ banner made by adoring fans

Wales fans Rob Lewis and Leighton Unahi at Queen’s Wharf preparing for the game

No one’s going to pull the wool over the eyes of Wales fans Alison Halliday and Diane Millington from Auckland

Lewis Talo and Sione Fakatoumafi of Auckland. I'm not sure which team those colours represent either

Argentine visitor Gustavo Martin with Alexandria Ah Chong, of Samoa, and SV Yaewua, of the Cook Islands

There's no mistaking who brothers Rhys Mann (Queensland) and Ryan Thomas Mann (Auckland) were supporting

From left, Viliami Holi, Jack Siulua and Hauili Vea, were the best dressed Wallabies fans at Eden Park

Samoans in sombreros Hauili Vea, left, and Viliami Holi celebrate Australia’s win

Welsh supporters Gael Spence and Carolina Tiumalu party with Wallabies fans Viliami Holi and Hauili Vea

Canada v Tonga
Northland Events Centre, Whangarei, September 14, 2011. Won by Canada 25-20

Tonga fans Sefa and Vaiola Lamipeti from Auckland

Scott McDowell, of Kamloops, Canada, wears his support close to his skin

Aulola Ahokava of Auckland cheers for the Tongans

The stadium was a sea of red-and-white flags

Somewhere behind the banner is a proud auntie

Four-year-old Matanuku Kata from Auckland

Malia Kava and Mele Liku from Auckland cheer for Tonga

Whangarei friends Dana Gower and Sharly Martin were backing Canada and Tonga

Tongan fans Pelenaise Fonua, 11, Panela Valenisia, 19, and Meletonga Talakai, 16

Sefa Lamipeti flies the Tongan flag

Aulola Ahokava celebrates a Tongan try

Giant maple leaf Evan Shewchuk (Grande Prairie, Canada) with his moose brother-in-law Michael Tokoma (Auckland)

Another moose, Doug McCormack from Canada, with Christchurch mountie Callum Findley

Tonga v Japan
Northland Events Centre, Whangarei, September 21, 2011. Won by Tonga 31-18

Dedicated fans Mieko Takahara and Taka Tanimizu of Osaka, Japan

Wellsford's Denise Hunt was supporting the combined nation of Japonga

Japanese fans show their support for the Brave Blossoms

Whangarei's Billie Purdie, 12, Lisa Burrows, and Noah Purdie, 12, spread their support across both teams

Japanese fans Satomi Shirakawa (Sapporo), Hiroshi Yamashita (Osaka) and Yoshi Okuyama (Tokyo)

The 60-odd boarders at Lupton House, Whangarei Girls' High School, were almost certainly the loudest fans

Tonga fans Jacob Pohiva and son Jacob Junior, 4, from Auckland

A group of geisha, er, girls throw the full weight of their support behind Japan's Brave Blossoms at the Northland Events Centre

Whangarei geishas (clockwise from top left) Kim Maxwell, Alicia Marchant, Irene van de Ven, Carrie Mathews, Denise Briggs and Daina Dunn

Yusei Shimoda celebrates a second-half try for Japan

Firefighters douse a fire just over the stadium fence

Canadian team mobbed
Kerikeri Domain, September 7, 2011 / Ohaeawai township, September 9, 2011

Flanker Adam "beardo" Kleeberger greets the kids of Kerikeri Kindergarten ahead of a training session

Captain and hooker Pat Riordan greets the kids of Kerikeri Kindergarten as he runs onto the field at Kerikeri

The kids of Ohaeawai School force the Canadian team bus to stop as it passes through their township

All 165 children of Ohaeawai School perform a roadside haka for the Canadian rugby team

Lock Brian Erichsen greets young fans during an unplanned stop in Ohaeawai

Scrumhalf Ed Fairhurst is mobbed by autograph-seeking schoolchildren

Canadian team arrives
Bay of Islands Airport, Kerikeri, September 4, 2011

The Canadian players make their way from the aircraft to the hangar for their welcome onto Northland soil

Christine Watson, Leanne Feilberg, Glyn Thomas and Dustin Watson from Winnipeg, Canada, welcome their team

Te Roopu Kapa Haka o Kerikeri members Jesse Rihari, 15, Harry Muunu, 17, and Mako Maumasi-Rihari, 14

The Canadian players and team mascot listen to speeches of welcome in Kerikeri airport's Salt Air hangar


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Copyright Peter de Graaf 2011 : Ramblings by Peter de Graaf : Last updated January 2012