This article from our man on the spot at Huddersfield!
It's an awesome park, the Alfred McAlpine Stadium in
Huddersfield. Looks like a smaller version of the Sydney Football Stadium, except it's
wedged amongst the dark satanic mills of England's industrial heart. Pity there's no
car parks or metro stations or public transport links - I think I was one of about 10,000
Kiwis who couldn't find a parking spot or had to run a couple of km from the train station
and missed the first half of the All Blacks match against Italy.
There was an excellent atmosphere in town for the match - the locals had more or less adopted the All Blacks as their own (this is the only RWC match to be played in this part of the country) and there was a lot of warmth despite the bleak autumn day. It was good to see plenty of local school kids squeezing in to see the match as well - and just the sort of match to inspire them to play rugby in a soccer-mad part of England. In future the Poms will need more of these young players to replace those discouraged by the poor results from the national team!
When I arrived it was nearly halftime, Wilson had just cantered over for another try (48 points) and the queues were building by the hot dog stands. In the second half it was more of the same, one-way traffic to the Italian line. Most of the 22,000 crowd were wearing black and at times the ground seemed more Christchurch than Huddersfield, particularly given the huge cheers that greeted the Cantab tries. Some of the guys will come out of the game with reputations enhanced - Jonah did everything asked of him, Wilson the alchemist turned a few more things to gold, Hammett was impressive in every aspect and Ian Jones was awesome. Any kickoffs, lineouts, loose ball - he sucked it up like a White House intern, and staked a claim for a Quarter Final spot.
The best moment of the match for the crowd in the John Smiths Stand came early in the second half, when a Tony Brown touchfinder landed in the 15th row. The ball was duly returned by a Black supporter - a bullet-like throw aimed squarely at the linesman, who turned just in time to take evasive action. When he turned back to face the crowd he was steaming like an overwrought headmaster, and we thought he was going to launch into the stand to take the culprit to task! He deservedly won a huge jeer from the crowd, and was forced to back down.
After the match the backpacking Black-tracking fans slowly
made their way back to their nine-to-fives in London, while the All Blacks flew out for a
week living the high-life in Cannes.