Rugby World Cup: We’ve already blown it

Rugby really isn’t my favourite game in the world. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind the game. And being a New Zealander, I was brought up with rugby.

But I was having a discussion with someone before I’d even heard any of what had happened in Auckland tonight. This was about 5:30pm – I’d been pretty busy so hadn’t been on Twitter or any news sites. At the time, I said, “Auckland is not ready. They’ve got roading projects going on that should have been finished a while back, and their public transport is not even close to ready. I hope I’m proven wrong, but I don’t think I will be.”

And oh how right could I have been. Auckland screwed up this worse than I expected actually. Over 100,000 people were trying to get into “Party Central”. At most, Queen’s Wharf would fit about 50,000. But because some raving idiot decided to put a huge inflatable rugby ball in there, it could only fit 12,000. So 12% of people trying to get in to Queen’s Wharf were able to.

Then there was the hundreds of people who couldn’t get to Eden Park because of Auckland’s failing public transport system. Trains that were supposed to be “direct” services sat at a train station on the route for 35 minutes. Britomart even closed it’s doors after a while. Ferry services were cancelled because of the number of people on the ferry terminal trying to get past the tens of thousands of people trying to get into Queen’s Wharf.

Those who actually managed to get on to Queen’s Wharf weren’t safe though, with police having to rescue three people who had ended up in the Waitemata Harbour. Reports of excessive alcohol consumption are not surprising given the price of a beer within Queen’s Wharf was $7.50 when the average price at a bar nearby would have been $10 minimum.

Four people ended up in hospital, two from being hit by a bus on Fanshawe Street which had previously collided with a car, the remaining two being victims of assault. Following the assault, Police put out a media statement advising all people to avoid the central city.

Transport wasn’t good for the return trip either, with Auckland Transport sending a tweet:

Auckland Council, Auckland Transport, Police and other authorities have a month to sort this out. Crowds were big because it was the opening. I expect they won’t be as big until the final and closing ceremony now – and even then only if New Zealand makes it that far. The image of New Zealand depends on the final being perfect and this debacle not reoccurring.


7 comments on “Rugby World Cup: We’ve already blown it

  1. all very true but I think Auckland now needs alternative ideas and plans quick. I think the next pressure ppoint will be 24/9 NZ France match at Eden Park it’s been one of the few sellout games and there will be huge interest given the result in 2007. They need to ditch the blow up rugby ball and encourage people to go to their area’s fanzones as in Albany, Henderson and Manukau. Although how that fits with one auckland I’m not sure? This is only going to get bigger

    • I think there will be interest in the NZ v France match, but it won’t be like tonight for two reasons. Firstly, this was the opening of the biggest sporting event that ever has and probably will be held in New Zealand. Secondly, people won’t want to go to the central city after what happened tonight, so they will go to Albany etc, or to the local pub that’s showing the game.

      But hey, at least Auckland had something. Hamilton hasn’t even bothered!

      • thought it was more than ironic that mayor brown didn’t use public transport tonight. Saw the other centres wellington Chch and Dndn they looked like they had a really good tie. Calling a place “party Central” was always going to cause issues

  2. Pfft, sounds like a city hosting a major international sports event to me, nothing out of the ordinary from what’s described here, apart from the LOWER price of beer.

  3. Yes it was far from perfect. The gist of the issue was an overselling of the waterfront, an overselling of public transport and a serious lack of crowd control. Party Central was too small too close to Britomart/Ferry terminal. Trains…well they ran fine during the Eden Park trials, but ultimately it’s what happens with 50 years of underinvestment in the network.

    In spite of all that you’re blowing this way out of proportion. NZ’s image is not damaged at all – international media have not reported at all on the transport fail because ultimately nobody overseas gives a shit. All the overseas reporting has been glowing – focussing on the opening ceremony/fireworks, and the actual rugby itself – that small thing.

    And I can tell you categorically that you’re wrong about people falling off Queens Wharf – I know because I was there. There are 2m high fences around the fanzone and it wasn’t overcrowded at all. The issue was everywhere else in town – just not enough space/screens or crowd control. Really needed to close Queen Street, have a screen in Aotea Square or something to disperse the crowd a little. Ultimately the pedestrians claimed Queen Street anyway. Maybe they should’ve had the fanzones around the city open for opening night rather than focussing so much on the waterfront.

    Point I’m trying to make is yes it was imperfect but ultimately 99% of people had a great night, so no need to be SO negative. I had a fantastic night, and so did everyone I know that was there. It was a mostly good natured, well behaved crowd despite the issues. Shit’s always going to happen when 200,000 people come into town. Can’t be helped.

    • In terms of the people falling into the water, that was reported by TVNZ News – I was just going with what they said.

      It’s awesome that most people had a great time. But the fact is, there needs to be something done, and they’ve said they have no intention of doing anything at all.

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