Glory to Carisbrook

Good night, good crowd, good atmosphere - pity about the result, and a pity too about the behaviour of a few idiots.

Dunedin and Carisbrook did, as usual, turn it on for the rugby test between New Zealand and France on Saturday.

Just ask many of the out-of-towners who regularly make a date with Dunedin and Carisbrook for test rugby - a big match in Dunedin is special. In Auckland, an All Black occasion in just another event in town. In Dunedin, it is the event.

Good old Carisbrook, creaking with 101 years of memories, played its part. The ancient dowager put on her best face and, with her time nearly up, came to the party in her fading but grand glory.

The All Blacks, with its batch of new boys, did their best but fumbled and failed, while the Frenchmen's acute desire to win helped them stay staunch and strong.

Somehow, the occasion trumped the result. Most of the crowd, although disappointed, was not despondent nor downhearted. Some spectators, though, behaved disgracefully and could have put in jeopardy Dunedin's chances to stage All Black tests as well as undermining the city's reputation.

Those on the terraces who thought it fun to throw bottles as the French lapped the ground in honour are in danger of spoiling everything for everyone else. As well, right around the ground - and right around New Zealand - the unedifying sound of booing as opposition kickers aim for goal has become standard.

How unnecessary and rude and what a bad example of poor sportsmanship to the children present. Even worse in its disrespect were the cases of jeering during the singing of La Marseillaise. At least we can take pride in the widespread applause given the French during their victory parade around the ground.

The talk, as construction continues at Eden and Lancaster Parks, has been that Carisbrook might host a test against Wales next year, and it must be hoped the minority has not spoilt a golden opportunity.

Wouldn't that test be wonderful, a fitting All Black send-off for a place with such a distinguished role in Otago and New Zealand's rugby and cricket history.

Every seat, and terrace ticket, would sell quicker than the fastest winger, and the end of the era would be capped in glorious nostalgia and rousing enthusiasm.

Even if New Zealand repeated the unthinkable and lost again, Carisbrook would stand above that and depart the international stage with her head high.



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