New Zealand’s biggest city Auckland was in chaos Friday as thousands arrived in the city for the start of the rugby World Cup — the biggest sporting event ever staged in the country.
Harbour ferries, trains and buses were halted after being swamped by sports—mad fans who headed to the waterfront for an opening firework display and pop concert and to a suburban stadium where the national All Blacks team downed Tonga 41—10 in the first match of the six—week tournament.
As the game ended, police issued an appeal urging people to stay away from the city centre and harbourside, citing “ongoing disruptions to public transport — ferries, trains and buses — and in the interests of public safety.” “The city is full of revellers — some of whom are less well—behaved than others — and anyone who doesn’t need to return to the city should stay away from it after the rugby match finishes,” a spokeswoman said.
Earlier, hundreds trying to get to the match walked on railway lines as trains ground to a halt and ferry services were abandoned because wharfs were too crowded for passengers to get on or off, according to news reports.
The New Zealand Herald reported on its website that 50,000 people had headed for the waterfront and Queens Wharf, the officially designated party area, could take only 12,000.
Police closed the city’s main thoroughfare, Queen Street, to check the flow of people heading to the harbourside.
“Never seen Auckland like this — downtown is a jungle,” said one tweet posted on the New Zealand Herald website. “Crowds of drunk hoods on the streets now in downtown Auckland — looks more like New Years,” said another.
Keywords: Rugby World Cup