The vast majority of New Zealanders are in celebration mode today, with our exceptional All Blacks taking out the Rugby World Cup last night. It sure was a nail biting game, but all that seemed irrelevant today, as I joined a crowd of reportedly 250 000 in central Auckland for a Celebration Parade this afternoon. It was an amazing atmosphere, and like thousands of others there, it made me very proud to be a Kiwi.
We are a proud sporting nation, and whether non sport/rugby fans like it or not, an incredible percentage of New Zealanders are huge rugby supporters. We have loved every minute of the Rugby World Cup, and will continue to bathe in the glory of our win for time to come - probably till the next one.
And while it may seem cliched, this tournament has been about far more than rugby for our nation. The exposure to our environment, culture and Kiwi hospitality will have positive effects for years to come. It's been great to have a significant win to lift the spirits of a nation that's been through the wringer in the past year. And as anyone who has attended a game or other celebrations will attest to, the electric atmosphere drew everyone together. And not everyone who got involved was a rugby fan before they did. I applaud the many non-rugby people I know who have found themselves swept up in the excitement, and have enjoyed being taken on a wonderful ride throughout the competition. Some have even found themselves turning into die-hard supporters.
Yes the media has been super-saturated by the RWC, yes it's been the water cooler conversation in work places for weeks, yes barely a step can be taken without some reminder being given that this tournament was on - but so it should have been, it's a major international sporting event. A World Cup.
So I find it somewhat offensive and even ignorant that the few New Zealanders who do not value sport and/or rugby, insult this competition and all it represents (even if tongue in cheek) because it's not their cup of tea. The big picture is important here. And while everyone has the right to an opinion, the RWC detractors are the exception. And at this time, rugby rules!