"All Blacks coach Graham Henry today spoke out about some spectator behavioural issues that have marred the first two tests of the 2009 season, both against France. He warned that incidents such as those experienced in Dunedin and Wellington were simply not good enough with a World Cup coming this way in two years' time.
With millions upon millions of dollars being poured into the 2011 tournament, and New Zealand's reputation as a rugby host at the very highest level on the line,the incidents of the last fortnight have raised a few red flags. (ed. there goes that reputation again)
In Dunedin fans pelted the French players with plastic bottles while they undertook a "victory" lap following their 27-22 win, while spectators disrupted play by running on to the field in both tests. There were also minor incidents with two roosters which had been smuggled into the stadium in Wellington last Saturday night.
Completing a fairly dubious opening fortnight of the new season, French player Mathieu Bastareaud was allegedly assaulted and injured in what he claims was an attack by a group of men in the early hours of the morning last Sunday in the capital. He was on his own near the team hotel when he says he was set upon, and though he has returned to France, with a reported broken eye socket, the incident is being investigated by police....."
The eyes of the world are focused on NZ rugby right now, it can't afford many more slip-ups. There's going to be increased interest in the forthcoming game this Saturday at the AMI stadium. Christchurch police have already said that they don't plan to increase security for the match, let's hope that decision doesn't rebound on them.
As of yesterday ticket sales for the All Blacks-Italy rugby test were disappointingly low with only 14,000 out of of 26,000 seats sold.
Doubts about NZ ability to host the 2011 World Cup
In 2005 chief executive of the South African bid committee, Francois Pienaar, said that New Zealand had a problem with stadium capacity. The IRB requires a guarantee that a host country could sell a certain amount of tickets. During the Lions Lions tour three cruise liners had to be chartered to provide accommodation for British fans, following the games from port to port.