World Cup Diary: Victory parade, Monday. Maybe

 

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The Independent Online

So now we know: there will be an All Blacks victory parade here in Auckland on Monday, starting near the harbour in Queen Street and covering what locals call the "Golden Mile" to either Aotea Square, near the town hall, or the Domain, the city's oldest park.

It will be the biggest sporting celebration since Peter Blake, Russell Coutts and the Team NZ yacht crew were tickertaped to within an inch of their lives after their 1995 America's Cup triumph. The rugby boys will have just a couple of hours' shut-eye before clambering on the bus for a long spell of hero worship and it's a fair bet that most will find themselves in Andrew Flintoff Land long before kicking-out time. What's that you say? There's still a match to be played? Look, if you're going to start splitting hairs...

Name of game is political football

Back in 1987, the last time the All Blacks actually won the World Cup rather than just assumed they would, the NZ Labour government went to the polls two months after the final and won an increased majority. Since then, Kiwi voters have treated sitting administrations badly in World Cup-year elections. The National Party suffered a 12.77 per cent swing in 1991. It lost power eight years later after France spanked the All Blacks in that Twickenham semi. Last time out, when thousands of fans flew into Paris for the semis as their heroes packed, Labour's ratings plopped and they were driven out a few months later. Might the current lot be feeling a little queasy? "Too much can be read into unrelated events," says the Sports Minister, Murray McCully. That'll be a "yes", then.

Rent-a-PM for £10k. Offers?

What's this? The New Zealand Prime Minister, John Key, going cheap? Apparently. One of the auction items at a black-tie dinner down on the Auckland waterside – keynote speaker: Sir Richard Branson – is a 10-course dinner for eight, rustled up by top-notch chef Simon Gault, with NZ's first citizen as guest of honour. Price? Less than £10,000. What would Tony Blair and Bill Clinton say at this undermining of the market rate? Neither would share a bag of crisps for under 20 big ones.

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