South Africa have promised the Rugby World Cup final will be the best game of rugby in history, which is music to the ears of Kiwi fans, who have spent thousands of dollars making the last-minute dash to France.
Paris is experiencing a World Cup renaissance, overflowing with All Blacks and Springboks fans already celebrating the trip of a lifetime.
The City of Light can sparkle with everything it’s got, but this weekend, it is turning all black.
New Zealanders have rushed to France like, well, All Blacks fans to a game – the long time sufferers of World Cup fever and the recently diagnosed.
“Ah, three days ago,” laughed Jared MacLachlan, who is not alone in his 11th-hour flight.
PJ Wilson made the mad dash too, after he got the last minute green light from his wife.
The coaches promise it’ll be worth every cent spent.
“Probably the biggest game that’s ever been,” hyped Springboks coach Jacques Nienaber.
All Blacks counterpart Ian Foster agreed: “You do the maths – three World Cups each and someone’s going to win four.”
The big game is pulling in big names.
“It’s been really cool to see them build through the tournament and its super exciting to see what they can put together in the final,” said America’s Cup star Peter Burling. “What stage would you prefer to be playing on?”
Burling has made the trip from Team New Zealand’s base at Barcelona to join the thousands of fans hoping the Rugby World Cup will soon be New Zealand’s cup too.
“There’s one thing wrong with the jersey,” said Brent Armstrong. “It doesn’t have 2023 on the sleeve – yet!”
Paris is experiencing a Rugby World Cup surge, with international visitor numbers up 16 precent on last year. Of course, that does include the inevitable flock of Springboks supporters too.
South Africa fans are looking forward to beating the All Blacks and they have the population power – a country of 60 million taking on a country of five million – but you wouldn’t know it on the streets and All Black fans are certain you won’t know it on the field.
“We’re wishing each other the best of luck, but we want to win,” said Dave Shatford of Christchurch.
“You dare to dream, as they say, and I dreamed with them, so here we are,” said Wilson.
Sharing drinks with new friends and basking in the shared love of a game, there’s just one more shiny thing missing, before this really is picture perfect.
Join Newshub at 8am Sunday for live updates of the All Blacks v Springboks World Cup final