World Cup Diary: Even on K Road, they bang the drum

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The Independent Online

A snapshot or two from the Fan Trail: a 5km amble from the middle of Auckland's bar-and-business district to Eden Park, the rebuilt stadium where the important stuff is happening.

Along the Karangahape Road, where the city's bohemian element, pierced and tattooed to a man and woman, hang out in a variety of ethnic cafes and watering holes – Tongan and Samoan, Lebanese and Malay, Turkish and, er, Irish – there are bands playing in every bus shelter, drummers on every street corner, even a bagpiper standing on a garden wall.

A flashing screen at a Ford motor dealership deals with the big question ahead of the trans-Tasman semi-final: "Are you ready, Quade?" it asks, before answering: "Richie is!" A sign in the window of a clothing establishment reads: "Now you AND your girlfriend go to bed thinking about Dan Carter's groin." If all of human life is here, it thinks the same way: in All Black.

All hail Auckland's Baywatch stars

According to Auckland's lifeguards, seven people were hooked from the harbour water on Sunday after coming a cropper in a "dragon boat" race. There have been other incidents: an emergency with an upturned dinghy, an urgent search for a missing child and the red alert caused by England's Manu Tuilagi, who notoriously jumped into the fast-moving water from a ferry by way of bidding a fond farewell to the country. It is still not clear whether incidents involving Tuilagi and the child were one and the same.

France's brats are in the swim

Spoiled brats, eh? France coach Marc Lièvremont used the phrase in connection with those of his players who defied orders to stay off the beer following their victory over Wales. And where were they spotted yesterday? In a plush Auckland pool, enjoying a "recovery session". What sort of punishment is that? The rule of thumb has always been as follows: if the little blighters misbehave, don't take 'em swimming.

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