All Blacks won, royals almost lost

Last updated 05:00 14/04/2014
Fairfax NZ

Wills and Kate spent day seven of their New Zealand tour in Dunedin and Queenstown.

ALL SMILES: The Duke of Cambridge, Prince William and Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge jet boating on the Shotover River in Queenstown.
 Prince William, All Blacks captain Richie McCaw and Catherine cheer on their Rippa Rugby teams
TOP COACHES: Prince William, All Blacks captain Richie McCaw and Catherine cheer on their Rippa Rugby teams, Clutha, in red, and Pirates in Dunedin yesterday.

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After winning Kiwi hearts all week, Kate met her match on a day when she must have feared she had wandered into Blokesville.

Like so many others before her, in Dunedin she learned the harsh lesson; you don't take on All Blacks rugby captain Richie McCaw at his own game.

For days crowds have lined up layers deep to see Kate as she worked her charm North and South.

Kate, the student who lived the dream to become a princess, has won New Zealand over with her smiles, empathy and a fashion show of eye-catching outfits.

Yesterday, her jewel-toned arrival outfit was a creation by Kiwi-born, London-based designer Emilia Wickstead.

In Dunedin to coach the Royal Rippa Rugby finalists - Wills got redshirted Clutha, Pirates in their white got Kate - and the royals were relegated to bit-part roles by the wee rugby players.

A rugged man in plain black sportsgear proved her nemesis.

Boys wanted to meet McCaw and Otago All Black Ben Smith. Girls had their hearts set on the prince; princesses did not feature in their pre-match calculations.

Clutha saw Pirates off 30-20, squaring the royal tour sporting battles at one apiece, after the duchess sunk Wills in America's Cup match-racing in Auckland.

Prince William unearthed a star in 7-year-old speedster, Chase Te Moananui-Currie, who scored a hat-trick. He made no secret about what had inspired him.

"Meeting Richie McCaw and Ben Smith would be the highlight, after winning the trophy," he said.

While the game was on, Kate chatted to the girls in her squad.

Wills had a bloke-to-bloke with McCaw, with one eye on his team.

After the excitement of Blenheim, Auckland and Cambridge, where it seemed every nook and cranny had a union jack jammed in it, Dunedin was more sedate.

Later, Queenstown at last offered sunshine.

Yet the couple still managed to get wet roaring through the Shotover River canyon in a jet boat powered by two six-litre V8s, and doing spins for the clicking news media cameras.

Sipping wine at lunch and getting thrown about in the jet boat failed to squash speculation Kate is expecting.

In Cambridge the day before Prince William told Cynthia Read, who knitted the wool shawl which was New Zealand's official gift when George was born: "You might have to make another one soon!"

This sent the world news media into spins akin to that of a Shotover jet.

By the time she came back into view after a dash of about 7km down river, hitting speeds of up to 90kmh and swerving within 500mm of the rocky outcrops, the full smile was there.

She even found the courage to let go of the handrail to push up her sunglasses. "This'll be going on the ‘famous wall' . . . if they allow it," Shotover jet boat driver Andy "Randy" Patchett said.

On the famous wall, back at Shotover headquarters, are well-known film directors James Cameron and George Lucas, actors Hugh Jackman, Sir Ian McKellen and Laura Dern, as well as cricketer/politician Imran Khan.

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After the royals departed for the exclusive Matakauri Lodge, Shotover jet staff agreed they had just seen the most famous of the famous.

A bunch of little Dunedin rugby players would take some convincing of that. 

- Fairfax Media

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