My history with the RWC really started in 2003. As a youthful, spritely upstart, I’d always wanted to go to Australia and after a particularly rubbish time in my life, I decided to book the holiday of a lifetime. Funds, or lack thereof, meant my trip was limited so I made sure I planned the trip to ensure seeing some England games. Consequently, I arrived in Perth on 17th October 2003 and left Brisbane on 9th November 2003 (we’ll get back to that date)…
We all know what happened at the end of that World Cup, but my journey took me from England v South Africa in Perth, Samoa in Melbourne and Uruguay in Brisbane, stopping off at Canada v Tonga in Wollongong and Georgia v Uruguay in Sydney along the way. The trip was amazing, shared with my brother for the first two weeks, and caught my imagination for rugby. Until that point, it was just a passing interest.
I mentioned Brisbane on 9th November 2003 as that was the day I was offered QF, SF and Final tickets whilst waiting to check-in for my flight home. I’d already spent plenty on flights/hotels/tickets/rubbish Aussie beer and taken 3+ weeks off work – the idea of incurring more debt, plus having to call my boss and say “see you in 3 MORE weeks”… well, I didn’t do it. And I flew back. And regretted it.
And so to 2007, and France, where I had my soon-to-be wife (an American!) for company. Of course this time, it wasn’t just rugby and drinking. We threw in some sightseeing, too. This was actually my first ever trip to Paris, so we spent some time doing the sights, although I hadn’t initially planned on a detour to Belgium and Luxembourg, too! Again, I swerved the latter stages and lightening almost struck twice.
It wasn’t just England games this time – I bought a package for games at the Stade de France, which included France’s stunning defeat to Argentina on the opening night and not forgetting (I wish I could) England’s duck egg against the South Africans. The writing was on the wall in Lens when England struggled past an impressive US team, vociferously supported by my travelling companion.
When England amazingly made the final I couldn’t believe it. Was I, again, going to miss seeing England bring Billy home?
It wasn’t to be and the end of the final led to some mixed emotions. Had we won again, I’d have sold my soul to be at the 2011 final. You know. Just in case.
In 2009, my now wife (and “committed” rugby fan!) and I left our jobs and went travelling. Along the way we stopped in New Zealand and loved it. I jokingly said we should just keep travelling until the next World Cup here! Whilst it wasn’t written in stone, we both agreed it wasn’t the worst idea I’d ever had!
By the time the WC came around, we did have jobs again but we headed to NZ nevertheless but, yep, you’ve guessed it, just during the group stages. We decided to pick some more random matches this time and the ballot bought tickets to Australia v USA in Wellington, Italy v Russia in Nelson and Fiji v Samoa in Auckland and was soon accompanied by England v Georgia in Dunedin (involving a 20+hour round trip of driving!).
It didn’t end with another final for England, let alone a victory, but I was pleased for the Kiwis we met that they’d won it on home soil.
Now, all we can hope for, is that England do the same in the coming months.
Rugby World Cup 2015 – it’s almost here.