Rugby World Cup: New Zealand fans ride rollercoaster of early-morning emotions as Webb Ellis Trophy slips away

Fans across New Zealand showed up in their millions to watch the Rugby World Cup's final dance.

It wasn't the result they wanted, but for those who braved the early wake-up, they were treated by the edge-of-your-seat action they'd been promised.  

Bean bags in hand, wrapped up in blankets, the fans who make the game our national sport - arrived en masse at New Zealand's home of rugby - Eden Park.  

New Zealand fans rode a rollercoaster of early-morning emotions.
New Zealand fans rode a rollercoaster of early-morning emotions. Photo credit: Newshub

Others literally had to run a marathon - the Auckland Marathon - to catch the game.  

In the capital, bars were brimming. Dunners was living up to its dubious reputation and on the West Coast, the sun rose on Hokitika's own fanzone at the local theatre.  

"We did pre-ordered breakfast buns and I think she had about 40 of them ready to go this morning," said Hayley Kirby. "Plus waffles and coffee."

In Christchurch, they were singing the Webb Ellis Cup back home, as the Church Pub's lucky mascot Winston calmed punter's nerves.  

"He's been at all the games - the Irish game the Argentina game - so he's the good luck charm for sure," said Nick Inkster.  

Even Prime Minister-to-be Chris Luxon, who famously doesn't drink, was found in a bar today, with the nation geared up for a game of the ages.  

As Springbok fans filled an Auckland bar and both teams were confident 

Then the game started...  

New Zealand's youngest joined seasoned fans, as the 40 first minutes bore witness to a cavalcade of cards, but at half-time, both sides were still confident.  

By the time the second half started, Eden Park's turf was packed.

Some feared bad weather would scare Auckland fans away, thousands turned up on an absolute stunner. 

There were moments of hope for the All Blacks, but it fast became an anxious, agonising watch. With eyes locked on screens and just one point in it, minutes felt like hours.  

Tries were disallowed, kicks missed, but hopes that lasted until the final seconds were dashed at the final whistle, amid tears of pure euphoria for the 'Boks.  

These friendly rivals are forever destined to fight it out on the field.