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Rugby World Cup fever is breaking out in New Zealand. The tournament, held every four years, begins on 9 September with a game between the country’s famous All Blacks and Tonga and concludes with the final in Auckland on 23 October.
The Moodie Report will be there every inch of the way – I will be in New Zealand for the final few weeks and will be reporting via this Blog on how the rugby-mad country embraces the event.
[The Publisher in his playing days]
From a personal point of view – shared with 4 million New Zealanders and 47 million sheep who always bleat in defeat – I hope desperately that the All Blacks will finally regain the Cup they last won in 1987 (also on home soil), the year I also started in travel retail.
We start in our perennial position as favourites, a status that has meant nothing amid the crushing disappointments that have occurred at four-yearly intervals ever since.
Many other members of the travel retail community will be in New Zealand for the World Cup. Colm McLoughlin from Dubai Duty Free and his wife Breeda will be there, as our pictures show.
So will John Sutcliffe of Aer Rianta International-Middle East, his son Karl of Bahrain Duty Free and former colleague Mike Murphy.
[John Sutcliffe: Looking forward to the rare auld times in New Zealand]
[Always in support: Karl Sutcliffe]
Word reaches us that the perennial red rose fan Jonathan Holland will be in town to cheer on his beloved men in white, though judging by his recent personal fitting below they’ll scare no-one (though he might).
Auckland Airport General Manager for Retail & Commercial Adrian Littlewood (below in national costume) promises a heck of a welcome, not just for the travel retail community, but for the legion of world rugby fans who are set to descend on New Zealand (other airports around the country are also gearing up for a unique Kiwi welcome).
“It is incredibly important for NZ to show that although we are a small country we can host a big event and do it brilliantly and in a uniquely NZ way,” he says. “As we head into the final days before kick-off, we are polishing up the airport and dressing it with a ‘grass-roots’ rugby theme that links into the Auckland city-wide theming.” [You can read Adrian’s prediction for the tournament’s winner in this week’s Never Hide interview in The Moodie Report e-Zine, out Thursday].
Bacardi Global Travel Retail has got into the spirit, literally, of things, with the launch of a fantastic campaign for the company’s New Zealand vodka brand, 42Below.
As rugby fans arrive in New Zealand for the tournament they will discover the campaign, themed ‘42BELOWLAND – New Zealand in a bottle’.
The promotion, which will run in New Zealand and Australian airports, includes the first ever limited-edition 42Below bottle. The one-litre bottle features a wraparound photograph of 42Belowland, which can be customised using stickers on the bottle’s neck-hanger.
Travellers who buy two one-litre bottles will receive a 42Below rugby ball cocktail shaker.
Bacardi Global Travel Retail Director Andrew Carter, a keen rugby fan (as our picture below shows), introduced the campaign to me earlier this month.
I told him it would make the perfect destination merchandise purchase for all those English fans pouring home after their quarter-finals exit but he reckons it will be more of a consolation purchase for disappointed Kiwis trying to escape the country.
We shall see – watch this space for some unique rugby action. You heard it here first – The Cup is Coming Home.
May need to pack 15 of them leprechaun hats – the way Ireland are playing at the moment we will need all the luck we can get!