Jubilant crowd celebrates NZ victory

A jubilant crowd of more than 150,000 shared their love with the newly crowned World Cup-winning All Blacks as they headed down Queen St in Auckland.

A jubilant crowd of more than 150,000 shared their love with the newly crowned World Cup-winning All Blacks as they headed down Queen St in Auckland.

People lined the streets on Monday and climbed on balconies and saw cheerleaders, a huge rugby ball-shaped balloon, volunteers and a brass band in kiwi and kiwifruit costumes, but they had eyes only for the All Blacks.

The team travelled on the back of pick-up trucks, three or four to a vehicle, as the crowds screamed their appreciation for Sunday's 8-7 victory over France.

"It looks like all the country is here," winger Richard Kahui said. Captain Richie McCaw said the crowd was helping relieve the tension of the victory.

"To be honest it was a funny feeling after the game because we had to throw absolutely everything into it and we were so jaded it wasn't until this morning and turning up here that we perhaps understood what it meant."

Reserve lock Ali Williams, not known for his restraint, left his ute to hug spectators and sign autographs.

Cult figure Piri Weepu, a hero in the quarterfinal and semifinal but not at his best in the final, was dancing with the crowd. Starting first five-eighth Aaron Cruden, on crutches after having to come off injured in the final, couldn't contain himself. "(The leg) doesn't hurt at all.

To see the fans turn out in their hundreds, their thousands, it's unbelievable." Coach Graham Henry for once couldn't keep a grin off his face, saying the parade was unbelievable.

The only players missing appeared to be Sonny Bill Williams, who was reportedly visiting a family member in hospital, and Isaia Toeava.

A few French supporters were also there, one holding up a sign saying "a moral passionate victory for France".

But they were totally outnumbered by New Zealanders, unusually passionate and loud in celebrating a trophy they'd waited 24 years for. "It's such a small little trophy but what it means is huge," McCaw said. Similar parades are scheduled for Christchurch on Tuesday and Wellington on Wednesday.

Source AFP

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