Rugby World Cup: All Blacks fans flock to Kiwi-theme museum opened to mark wartime bond with French town Le Quesnoy

While the All Blacks are preparing for the big job at hand - a Rugby World Cup final against the Springboks - their loyal fans have spent their days off celebrating the heroics of teams past.

Perfectly aligned with the Rugby World Cup is the opening of a very special museum in a very special place.

Home away from home takes on new meaning in Le Quesnoy - two hours north of Paris - where New Zealand is celebrated on every corner and the All Blacks on every second.

Kiwi visitors to the Te Arawhata at Le Quesnoy.
Kiwi visitors to the Te Arawhata at Le Quesnoy. Photo credit: Getty Images

"You are at home," insists Beaudignies Mayor Raymonde Dramez. "Every New Zealander is at home here." 

Now there's a new Kiwi landmark on the town map - the liberation museum Te Arawhata celebrates more than 100 years of freedom and friendship. Days off the World Cup supporters trail have never been so well spent. 

In the last week of World War One, New Zealand soldiers liberated the town from four years of German occupation. Not a single civilian died, but at least one hundred of our own men lost their lives.

"I was in the military for 17 years and I've always wanted to come here, so it's been very nice to link in with the rugby," said All Blacks fan Hemi Moraty. 

The link goes beyond the calendar. Ninety-three All Blacks served in the 'Great War' and at least one died in the battle here.

French and Kiwi soldiers played rugby against each other to keep fit, boost spirits and raise funds.

"Even making money for the war hospitals and things like that, I never knew anything like that, but now we're reading and now we're learning," said Christchurch visitor Alby Hyett.

Hyett could write the book on modern day All Black heroics. He wears their World Cup history on his arms and is already planning the next addition. 

"My daughter brought me a tattoo voucher, so I'm going to use it," he said.

This visit has already been a big win for Kiwi fans. Twenty years in planning, the museum's opening is perfectly timed with the World Cup, with the $15 million project funded by donations from New Zealanders, only deepening the ties between our two countries.

"When you meet New Zealanders in the town, you say, 'Are you New Zealander?' said Mayor Dramez. "'Yes, we are'… 'Well come on and I show you the memorial, I show you this!'"

While rugby caused a temporary rivalry this past month, when the All Blacks took on the hosts in the tournament opener, Le Quesnoy’s backing New Zealand 100 percent this weekend. After the French exit in the quarter-finals, the host nation really seems to have adopted the All Blacks. 

Visitors to the Kiwi-theme Te Arawhata museum at Le Quesnoy.
Visitors to the Kiwi-theme Te Arawhata museum at Le Quesnoy. Photo credit: Getty Images

Plenty of Kiwi fans are still around - most of them didn't plan on being here for the final, but came for an earlier game and have extended their time, as the All Blacks have continued to win, or have managed to get their hands on last-minute tickets.

That's not a cheap task - if you can get your hands on one at resale, it's about $1700.

This week, the All Blacks have spoken a lot about how grateful they are for the support - both here and from home. They are seeing all the videos being sent in and reading all the messages.

Coach Ian Foster says it's very special to be reminded that they are playing for their country. 

Join Newshub at 8am Sunday for live updates of the All Blacks v Springboks World Cup final