For one farmer who lives and works on the rolling hills of Gisborne on New Zealand’s north island, the Rugby World Cup could not be happening at a worse time.
Mark Watson,is a fourth generation farmer with 1500 sheep. It is spring and the shearing season is about to start.
The intensity of World Cup fever has increased with a semi-final battle for the All Blacks against the old enemy Australia on the horizon. Getting away from the farm is a problem.
“I could certainly go away for a week-end to watch the final but the week at this time of the year is very busy so its not something I choose to do,” explained Mark Watson.
He and his neighbours have been getting together in front the television to watch the games, the option is a 7 hour drive to Auckland or Wellington. Distance does not diminish their passionate support or concerns for the team.
“The big worries now are injuries that will be forcing people to drop out,” said Mark adding, “we have lost Dan Carter for the rest of the World Cup and that is a major blow, I think.”
This is a country which is believed to have the biggest number of sheep per capita in the world and the prime market for the meat is the EU. Almost 150,000 tons is destined for Europe each year. The Webb Ellis Trophy hope All Black supporters will not be leaving New Zealand.