French fans greet their rugby idols
Two emphatic fans were the lone voices chanting "Allez Les Bleus" as the French rugby team touched down in Christchurch today for the first time in 10 years.
But as unaware travellers at Christchurch Airport cottoned on to Thierry Dusautoir and his boys in their midst, the two figures in blue were not the only ones lining up for autographs.
Les Bleus arrived in Christchurch today for their clash with the All Blacks at AMI Stadium tomorrow night.
Devout fan Sandy Ghozali and autograph hunter Ben Buist were waiting outside the arrivals gate as the team filed through.
Buist was not lining up at the arrivals gate for an autograph for the first time; he made an effort to meet "anyone important who comes into town".
His impressive archive of signatures boasts the All Blacks and Wallabies rugby teams, and many noteworthy celebrities and rugby players.
He had questioned workers at the hotel where the All Blacks were staying to find out when the French were flying in.
Ghozali waved her French flag and shouted "Allez Les Bleus" while collecting autographs.
She said she had been mocked by friends and strangers for her French allegiance, which arose from learning the French language and her former partner being French.
Despite receiving a heckling and even a push from angry New Zealand supporters watching the 2011 Auckland World Cup final in Hagley Park last year, she will be in the stands cheering on the French at the game on Saturday.
Aside from being spotted by Buist and Ghozali, Dusautoir flew under the radar until excited passengers bombarded him and the team as they picked up their bags.
Dusautoir, who was in Christchurch four years ago but did not see the outside of the airport, said it was "good" to be in the city.
However, they would have no time for sightseeing, he said, as "unfortunately we're just here for the game, then we go to Dunedin".
Fresh off the win over the Blues, Dusautoir knew the team still had to put in some work before Saturday's clash with the All Blacks.
"They will be harder and better than they were last week, so it will be a hard game,'' he said.
"I hope we do a better game than we did last week. I hope that we will be more efficient tomorrow, and we have to be."