ERROL PARKER | Editor-at-large | Contact

A close-knit group of school friends from Christchurch have put aside any plans they had this weekend to spend the night in watching their All Blacks take on the British and Irish Lions at Eden Park.

The fourth form students from an underprivileged government school on the edge of South Island city all agree that there’s nothing they’d rather be doing than spending time with each other while they cheer on the national rugby union team.

“Are you kidding?” said Talula Peters, 16.

“Me and the girls always watch the All Blacks, ever since we were just wee kids. It’s a real family affair, my auntie and uncle come up from Timaru and we have a BBQ or something. Always.”

Talula’s sentiments were echoed by second-best friend Emilia Walter, 16, who explained that ‘like shops and everything close’ whenever the All Blacks are playing.

‘Especially when they play the Lions,” she said.

“The last time the All Blacks played the Lions, I don’t even think I was born. Maybe when I was a baby, I dunno. It’s a seriously big deal, not like the Bledisloe.”

A recent survey conducted by the New Zealand Government discovered that the only thing that unites the entire country is their shared passion for rugby union – and fear of nuclear-powered warships.

That fact alone is a testament to the notion that everyone from the most diehard to least interested rugby fans in New Zealand will be watching the same this weekend, says Talula’s father, Mike.

“When you’ve got a gaggle of teenage girls watching the All Blacks and know all the names of the players, you know you’re doing something right,” he said.

More to come.



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