We finally found the rain in Oita. Which was a shame as the stadium is quite a way out of town, they’ve banned cars from going there, and they decided to transport nearly 40,000 by bus and taxi. In the rain.
So, do the maths. Each bus holds roughly 50 people, and takes 40 minutes to do the round trip. Match kicks off at 7.15 and the buses started moving people at around 3.15. How many buses do you need to make sure that the queues- oh the queues – keep moving and no one is standing about for too long…..?
We joined a queue at around 4pm. It stretched a whole block and a half before snaking into a park and splitting into 6 queues for 6 bus loading bays. As soon as the bus loaded, it left and the next one pulled in. We saw bus number labels of over 300 and they had come from all over the island of Kyushu. Someone said there were 1000 of them! It took us about and hour and a half to get to the stadium, including the last kilometre on foot through another park.
We didn’t really think about the trip back – possibly we should have done……
Anytime you get to watch the All Blacks live is worth it. Crazy fans, a spine-tingling haka and some moves and plays that made you gasp, as well as one or two blunders, especially that last one by Beauden Barrett! We found a few Canadians, and explained our links to Conor Keys, and were welcomed as honorary Canucks for the duration. Canada were obviously outclassed, but never gave up and, for all the players, a night to remember. It was lovely to see both sides swapping shirts and saluting all the fans together at the end of the game.
We even managed to find Conor at the end, had a chat with him and he really appreciated all the messages and support from back in Roth. Totally exhausted is the polite version of how he felt at the end of the game! He’s having the experience of a lifetime and can’t wait to go out and get battered again against South Africa!
So now you have 40,000 people, in the pouring rain, in a park, in the dark, with nasty concrete bollards all over the place, with one or two (!) having consumed a bit too much ‘beeru’ and everyone wanting to go home. Now!
It was chaos, especially when people collapsed, as several did in the crush, or fell over the blasted bollards in the dark (hands up who now has ‘bollarded’ knees 👆) or simply got in the wrong queue and couldn’t get out of the pens we were ushered into.
We left the stadium around 10, one of the last groups to leave due to staying to see Conor, and the queues outside were still enormous. Some sneaky diversions through trees and bushes got us away from some of it but two hours later we were still on a bus waiting to get back into town. We finally got to the very expensive, but basic, hotel way after midnight, and we weren’t the last to get home!
It was their first match in Oita so I think they may just have to rethink the logistics of it all for the next one – seems like a great idea but might need a few tweaks, such as closing the roads to other traffic on part of the route and maybe not stopping for every traffic light!
After that it was an early start, in bright sunshine obviously, to head for Kagoshima, right at the foot of Kyushu, and another set of friends, from Handsworth this time, for a few days of sun, onsens and generally being a tourist, before we finally get to see Wales in action. And hopefully get some decent singing at last!
If anyone fancies doing the maths – I’d love to know the possibilities as my brain gave up just on 1000 buses doing 40 runs each at 40 mins a time – didn’t work!