Firstly, I thought the fireworks were great.
Ok now my complaints. I thought the Queens Wharf/Quay Street gathering to watch the match on big screens, the haka, performers, etc. was a great idea on paper, but even I was questioning how they were going to fit such large crowd numbers into what is a relatively small area. I actually was wondering on the day why Aotea Square, Albert Park, or even out by Albany or Mt. Smart Stadium there weren't other big screens to disperse some of the crowd numbers. I didn't get there early enough to get into Queens Wharf - apparently the 12,000 capacity was reached by 3.20pm - and so had to settle for the action on big screens on Quay Street. I hardly saw anything from 4-5pm and with only Dave Dobyn and the Finn brothers performances before 7.30pm went to get some dinner. I returned at around 7pm and had a reasonable though not brilliant position on Quay Street. Saw most of the opening ceremony and had a good view of the fireworks over the harbour. Thought was transpired after that was absolutely ridiculous.
I don't possess the physique of SBW but I'm not what you'd call tiny. I honestly was scared with the amount of pushing and crowd movement. Almost got trampled on and nearly had my cap knocked off about three times. The AB flag I had acquired got bent in half. Seriously, at least where I was positioned, it was like a mosh pit at a concert, but from my perspective anyway far more dangerous. The cafes on Quay Street still had chairs and tables out, and glass railings. At that point (less than 5 minutes into the match) I decided that the best option was to leave the area and find a bar to watch the game in. It took about another 5 minutes to actually get off Quay Street, which involved basically getting driven into an icecream store, before being able to do so. It was an absolute joke. I really fear for the people that decided to bring children along - it was hard enough to look after myself so for parents with younger children to care for, I can't imagine how scary it might've been if they were in the same position as I was.
I also hear that the trains broke down and were delayed by up to an hour. Absolutely typical. All while Len Brown arrives at Eden Park via car. Speaking of cars, it was unbelievable that more roads weren't closed. I hear that people were hit by a bus, and I'm not surprised. In fact I'm a little shocked more people weren't hit by vehicles. People were walking down streets not closed off from vehicles as if they owned the place. I bet we'll be hearing of the amazing fireworks and fancy lighting show, but really I think these sorts of issues should be highlighted. Queen Street (and I assume Quay Street) were also disgusting by the end of the night - New Zealand clean and green, yeah right. Be interesting to hear what Ed has to say.
As for the match itself, I missed the opening 25 minutes (although I have the build-up and match recorded so I'll catch up eventually). Dagg looked good and went some way to confirming my prediction that he'll be one of the stars of the tournament. Thought Tonga contained us well in the second half, and I question why Taumalolo didn't start - he was very impressive after coming from the bench. Hoping that Fotuali'i can have just as big an impact in helping Samoa achieve some good results throughout the tournament.