Tens of thousands of kiwis in London today celebrated their country’s winning of the Rugby World Cup. Antipodean hotspots such as Walkabouts and pubs across Clapham, Fulham, Acton and Shepherds Bush were packed to the rafters as early as 8am this morning in preparation for the World Cup final against France.
New Zealand, who were the hosts of the tournament, have not won the trophy for 24 years, despite being one of the top rugby sides in the world. The agony of waiting for such a long time to lift the cup added to the pressure of playing in front of a home crowd and the All Blacks looked visibly nervous throughout the game.
Missed kicks and a gritty game did not make a great match for the neutral to watch. New Zealand took the lead at 15 minutes, with France coming close to parity in the second half (match report). Despite a few scares – including a missed France penalty – the All Blacks managed to hold on to the lead for the rest of the match to claim the Web Ellis trophy.
One All Black fan, Angela Rodger from Wellington and watching the game in the Alexandra, Clapham said: “Despite the fact we’re thousands of miles from home, being able to come together with other kiwis and watch the game in the same place is the next best thing to being at home. The atmosphere has been great and I’m sure that there will be a fair few sore heads tomorrow morning!”
At the end of the game, scores of happy New Zealanders were pouring out in to the morning sunshine, perhaps heading to The Church in Clapham Junction – a notorious place to find drunken antipodeans on a Sunday afternoon.
By Andy Thornley
Watched the game live? Which pubs had the best celebrations?