Electric moments at Nelson 'stadium'

19:02, Oct 25 2011
VICTORY IS OURS: Rugby World Cup 2011 fans get the result they wanted at the fanzone at the top of Trafalgar St last night.

Nelsonians joined the rest of New Zealand in celebrating an All Blacks Rugby World Cup victory last night, for the first time in 24 years.

However, once the game and the tournament was decided, drunken revellers soon kept Nelson police busy, with about 25 arrests made by 2am.

About 4500 people of all ages packed upper Trafalgar St from about 8.30pm for the nail-biting Rugby World Cup final clash, which the All Blacks eventually won 8-7 in a game that provided more than its fair share of tension.

Bars and restaurants along the street were heaving from early evening, and the special alcohol-free fanzone was full of a diverse range of Nelson fans keen to be a part of the stadium of four million.

The initially boisterous crowd soon settled down after it became clear the French were a real threat, with all eyes glued to the big seven-metre-by-3m screen for the last 10 minutes of the game.

But once the fulltime whistle blew and the result was official, the crowd erupted into loud cheers, with some fans waving flags and jumping up and down, some embracing one another and others caught dumbstruck.


All Blacks' fan Darren Fowler said the game had been "heart-attack material".

"There's a lot of relief now. It's a good feeling. It could have gone either way."

He was 14 when New Zealand last won the World Cup, and he said this one was a lot more important.

"I'm going to have a beer. I'm going to have more than one beer."

Young All Blacks' fan Isabelle Harding, 12, was wearing a flag as a cape to show her support.

She said her favourite moment was when prop Tony Woodcock had scored the All Blacks' try.

Tahunanui couple Ben Benner and Veronica Griffiths were sitting up close for the nail-biting finale.

"Everyone was just holding their breath over the last two minutes. It wasn't enjoyable."

Once the game had been decided, they joined the rest of the crowd in celebration, jumping up and down, screaming and taking photos.

French fan Jerome Guimberteau had been in the minority, proudly sporting his country's colours and optimistic of a French win, but satisfied either way.

Despite his affiliation, the crowd had been very friendly, he said.

"It's all right. It's just a game. If we lose, we lose."

The Vic Mac's Brewbar general manager Phil Williams said the bar had been busy from about 4pm, and "manic" from about 6.30pm.

Rugby World Cup 2011 Nelson communications manager Angela Ricker said the crowd of about 4500 had been well behaved on the whole, with two people evicted from the fanzone for breaching the alcohol rules.

The family-friendly atmosphere had been exactly what the council had wanted, with the win the icing on the cake for the tournament, she said.

But once the game ended and the celebrations began, intoxicated revellers soon started to cause trouble for the police, who described the night as a particularly busy New Year's Eve.

Acting Senior Sergeant Blair Hall said those arrested had committed a variety of offences, from breaching a liquor ban to three instances of domestic assault, but intoxication had been a factor in all.

"Every single person [arrested] has been drinking or affected by alcohol to a certain degree. There are some very drunk people in town at the moment," he said.

The police had planned for the situation, and resources were in place, but it was still a little bit disappointing.

St John team manager Johnny Mulheron said a 22-year-old Nelson man was taken to hospital after being assaulted with a bottle to his head in Bridge St at 2.30am.

"It was busy overall for us, but we were prepared for it."

The Nelson Mail