New Zealand won. Not only that but we got to do it by beating our traditional rivals Australia and South Africa, and thrashing our traditional World Cup nemesis France. It was just a shame that we did not get to play England but they had already gone home by that time. Almost as importantly, I watched the thrilling victory live from my proper seat at Malthouse [1] with a couple of Hop Zombies and bacon sarnies.

It was quite the morning. Here is a virtually accurate account of the experience: [2]

3:45am – wake up

3:59am – think about jogging to Malthouse

4:02am – stop laughing and catch a taxi

4:09am – dropped in Tory Street because there is a huge crowd on the corner with Courtenay Place. I fear it is a queue for the pub but it seems to be a large group of young people struggling to figure out how traffic lights work. Many appear to be in Halloween costumes but it is 4am on a Sunday so it is hard to tell

4:10am – sit in my correct seat at Malthouse and all is right with my inner Sheldon

4:11am – sip my first Epic Brewing Company Hop Zombie IIPA and all is right with my inner Neil

4:12am – actually wake up thanks to the hops

4:22am – nibble on my first bacon sandwich which seems even more bacon-y than usual

4:23am – experience first pangs of misgiving at telling so many people I was giving up meat until Christmas if the All Blacks won

5:00am – begin watching the big game with about a hundred others despite the best efforts of some random punters occasionally blocking the view, Fortunately the crowd self-regulated remarkably well [3]

5:35am – become only person in Malthouse to cheer wildly when Prime Minister John Key appeared on screen. Everyone else must have been in awe…

5:45am – half-time and feeling excited but nervous

6:05am – find out the referee is gay (not that it matters) but I appear to be the last person in the rugby watching world to know this

6:10am – some despair creeping in as Australia score two tries and my “Missy Missy Chocolate Fishy” chant is ineffective against the Australian kickers [4]

6:18am – faith in humanity restored by All Black brilliance

6:30am – win Rugby World Cup (with some help from the All Blacks).

6:31am – my pre-match prediction of a 30-12 win to the All Blacks proves remarkably close to the truth [5]

6:45am – crowd begins to quieten down

6:46am – Richie McCaw talks and crowd gets loud again

6:50am – Australian captain and coach are incredibly gracious and humble which is great but also annoying. Crowd cannot help but applaud them

7:00am – Rugby World Cup presented to New Zealand by a ginger chap who apparently works part-time for the British Government

7:05am – Prime Minister John Key shows four years of practice pays off by shaking hands with one person at a time

7:30am – stand outside Malthouse offering free candy to strangers from a plastic Jack ’o’ Lantern [6]

Later that morning I constructed a Lego penguin while sitting cross legged on the floor. There were a few design issues but after several hours I had built a quite awesome death penguin which had a catapult on his back, scorpions for hands, a big sword, a bigger axe, and for some reason, Chewbacca was driving him with a steering wheel. [7]

While everyone else’s Lego penguin looked much more like an actual penguin than my finished masterpiece, I do not regret my creative choices. However, I do have new respect for parents who can sit with their kids on the floor for hours without experiencing the same pain in their hamstrings that I endured the next day (or two).

Although it may not appear so from watching the news or reading a paper, apparently other events will at some point overtake the Rugby World Cup post-mortem. Here is my quick take on the hospitality angle: the predictions of changing the opening hours did not results in massive drunken problems and kids having to constantly walk to school through crowds of drunks. [8] Hopefully this experience will help politicians realise that Kiwis can be responsible – but I do not live in much hope about that.

The Rugby World Cup has finished and Halloween is over. Malthouse has crowned their Halloween costume winner, pumpkin carving winner and paid out for those who correctly identified the chalk outlines of regulars on the floor. It is time for the Crowd to Go Mild at Malthouse’s Session Beer Session – a week-long celebration of tasty beers under 5%.

This “avalanche showcasing the lighter side of beer life” will begin at 2pm on 13 November and run through to close of play on 22 November. Malthouse will be pouring around fifteen beers which are 4.5% alcohol or less. More details will be up on this blog in weekly instalments almost as if we were attempting to tease some sort of event. After a World Cup of big IPAs, sessionable beers may be exactly what I need.

Next time, we drink to the staff at Malthouse. These guys did a heroic job opening at odd hours, making coffee, cooking bacon and keep the vibe awesome (and safe). The next instalment of Staff Profiles in Courage will profile one of the main gentlemen behind the recent success.

[1] Though the reservation sign on the table did say “Mike Conroy: 4:15pm” rather than “Neil Miller: 4:15am”. This is because apparently the Conroy text has been on that board so long it has calcified and is now permanent.

[2] Times may not entirely accurate as I was staring at the television rather than my phone for the entire game.

[3] Apparently this can happen without Government legislation or a Council by-law. Someone should make a note of that.

[4] Me and a very small number of friends have been chanting this at opposition kickers since we heard the radio commentators do it at some historic Southland game against Auckland in an attempt to put off Carlos Spencer.

[5] Unlike my legendary ability to bet on whichever horse is going to come last in any given race.

[6] It was a fascinating sociological experience. Giving away to candy to strangers was surprisingly difficult until someone took a piece and then a queue quickly formed. Apparently this is called the “first follower” effect.

[7] I think on balance I should probably stick to writing.

[8] Surprisingly few children go to school on Saturday or Sunday.


Neil Miller

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