All Blacks crowned Rugby World Cup champions

PARTY CITY: Central Wellington became one big fanzone as crowds swamped the city centre to watch the final.
PARTY CITY: Central Wellington became one big fanzone as crowds swamped the city centre to watch the final.

As their team took the field, the sea of black roared in excitement – but by halftime they were feeling nervous.

"I'm not confident right now," said John Derby. "There's not enough of a buffer. We need at least 12 points on them."

The relieved fanzone erupted in scenes of ecstacy after the win.

"I feel relieved, if anything, that was just nerve-racking," said Chivon Walker.

"I bit off all my nails. The All Blacks held up. It's awesome."

But it was all such a contrast to the confidence at the beginning.

All Blacks fans started pouring into the city party zone from early evening, with some staking out seats long before kickoff.

In prime position at the front of the amped-up crowd were friends Mari Cribb and Anthea Martin, from Wellington.

The women were unmissable in silver, sequinned hats with giant black ferns, matching sparkly vests and silver fern tattoos. The outfits were made especially for the occasion by Ms Martin.

They had been in position since 5pm, not wanting to miss a thing as the crowds started filing in.

It was their fourth visit to the fanzone, and they had attended Wellington pool matches as well. "It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," Ms Martin said. "We just want to win – we've been waiting a long time."

"I just want to see Graham Henry smile, that would be my ultimate aim, even just a little bit," Ms Cribb said.

And if we didn't win? "You'll find two silver hats floating in the harbour tomorrow – no, not really, the sun will come up. We'll go and shake hands with the French."

Meanwhile, French father and son Bruno and Antoine Alleard were optimistically predicting a 16-13 victory to Les Bleus. "If France is playing well they can reach it, but it will be very hard of course," Mr Alleard, 23, said.

They didn't mind being vastly outnumbered by All Blacks supporters.

"With Kiwi people it's not a problem. Maybe if we win it will be a problem ..."

Clutching a beer, All Blacks supporter Dave Mumford was nervous watching the game but "just because it is a final".

He had listened to The Rolling Stones' Paint it Black eight times on his drive into the CBD to get into the mood, and was confident of an All Blacks win.

Silver ferns plastered on their cheeks, the members of the van Heerden and Mosavel families were jumping and cheering even before the game began.

Originally from South Africa, they had been living in Wellington for eight years and had been fans of the All Blacks long before then.

"It's just so awesome to see the All Blacks finally get to this stage, they have deserved it for so long," Penny van Heerden said. "Oh my goodness, it's our World Cup."

"I almost feel like I'm on the pitch tonight, that's how excited I am," her neice Chenise Mosavel, 18, said.

But the most excitement came from the youngest, Ashleigh, 10. "I'll probably just cry and jump and hug and hit [my sister]. I'll be like screaming, it's awesome."

The Dominion Post