Black is the colour…

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Martin Moodie
Martin Moodie is the Founder & Chairman of The Moodie Report.

Choose your colour.

Red or Blue? Black or Gold? The choices are few and simple. Who do you support this weekend as the Rugby World Cup reaches its semi-final stages?

Downtown and suburban Auckland is awash with colour: plenty of black of course but mounting swathes of gold, blue and red for Australia, France and Wales, respectively. The flags fly from every second car, flutter from houses, hang in every bar. It’s magical.

And in a country that has taken this World Cup to heart there are still plenty of flags around representing the other 16 nations, long since departed.

Everywhere there are black flags to support the local All Blacks. But the injury-ravaged pre-tournament favourites have two more mountains to climb before they can claim the Cup that means so much to them. With Wales playing with the irrestisible passion, skill, flair and sheer magnificence so synonymous with the country’s glory days, France resurgent and Australia possessed with the most indomitable never-say-die spirit, it’s virtually impossible to pick a tournament winner at this stage.

So let’s just enjoy the spectacle and camaraderie instead. The Moodie Report’s temporary New Zealand Bureau in Kohimarama near beautiful Mission Bay is filling up. Colm and Breeda McLoughlin have arrived after a 17-hour flight from Dubai via Melbourne; John and Karl Sutcliffe are making their way up this afternoon from Queenstown. Plenty of good New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir is about to be drowned tonight as the official Moodie pre-semi-finals party takes place together with local travel retail representatives.

I went to Auckland Airport today to pick up the McLoughlins. But first I met an old friend – legendary Australian scrum-half George Gregan who famously taunted the losing All Blacks in the 2003 semi-finals with his cry of “Four more years boys, four more years”.

All of New Zealand, of course, is hoping that same cry won’t be heard again this weekend. But these Aussies are a tough and talented lot. The tension is palpable. Tonight in Moodie HQ, the choice will be simple. Red or white? At the weekend, for me at least, it will be much more straightforward.

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