I was lucky enough to attend two matches during the recent RWC. The first was the NZ - v - South Africa semi-final which I went to with RP on a rainy day in South West London. Although the score was close (20 - 18 to the All Blacks), SA never really looked like they were going to score a try and Dan Carter scored a sublime drop goal to effectively seal the match. It was the first time I had been to Twickenham for years and the Stadium looked in really good nick - the whole day was expertly organised and I caught up with RP at Holborn from where we made our way by Underground to Richmond for a swift pint in the Railway Tavern (actually a rather nice venue - worth a further visit) and then the Rugby special shuttle to the stadium. We were in the first row of the second tier behind the posts and so had a great view of the game (as well as being protected from the rain that swept in as the game progressed). We were also able to take rugby special shuttle back to Waterloo from the stadium (although it took quite a while) and we had an excellent meal at Café du Marche.
The second game I saw was the Final and this took a bit more planning. I secured the tickets in the ballot last year and so flights etc. had been arranged well in advance. I had booked the Novotel at Brentford and so my Sister drove us all up and Dad on the Saturday morning. Although overlooking the M4/Great West Road, the Hotel was fiendishly difficult to locate in a car - our first attempt ended with us being parked next to it but with no access to the car park so we had to go round again and then drive the wrong way in to the underground car park. Dad, A, M and me then took a cab to the Stadium. Despite dire warnings about difficulties in accessing the ground, we were only 5 minutes walk away and it was a beautiful sunny Autumn day - slightly misty with the sun setting over Twickenham.
This was a a really fitting end to a lovely week weather wise - we had met P. V, C and M at Greenwich Park (where we visited the Observatory and the Maritime Museum) the previous weekend where the weather had been equally good) and during the week had a lovely visit to Hastings (where we picked up some ace Crabs) a great few days with M and B down in Chichester where we had managed a walk on the South Downs and a visit to RAF Tangmere. The weather had been less good when we met up with W, K and J (old friends from HK days) in Worthing the following day after a damp stop at Bosham Hoe (where the road literally disappears under water at high tide) but en route to London we had stopped off for a visit to Brighton where our walk around the Lanes in the Autumn sunshine stirred some old memories of Es time in Brighton!
So Final day was an appropriate finale to a glorious week and we arrived in good time to grab some pasties for lunch and A and I secured some commemorative tops from the merchandise shop and also Dad paid for a couple of the "Referee radios" - which gave access to the referee's microphone and also match commentary. We were sitting high up in the stand opposite the players tunnel and had great views all around the ground (I should think so forgiven the cost of the tickets....). We were treated to a terrific match with NZ dominating the first half but the Aussies storming back in the second getting within 4 points of the All Blacks before the boot of Dan Carter (including another sublime drop goal) saw NZ home. The ref radio is a great innovation. Nigel Owens had a good game. We stayed for the firework display and the presentations and then headed back to Richmond on the shuttle bus before getting a cab almost immediately so we were back at the Hotel by 7:30pm. It was a really terrific day. I have never been to a World Cup final before in any sport (in fact none of us had although M had been at Cardiff when the French beat the All Blacks in the World Cup) so this was a very good way to break a duck!