A Journalist's Perspective on Covering the Rugby World Cup

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A Journalist’s Perspective on Covering the Rugby World Cup

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There’s a lot more than meets the eye when it comes to the life of reporters covering the 2023 Rugby World Cup. Cheree Kinnear, a contributor for the NZ Herald and Beyond the Game, offers us an exclusive glimpse into her whirlwind tour.

Imagine this: It’s 4 a.m., and you’re finally crawling into bed after an intense night covering the All Blacks’ triumphant victory over Namibia in Toulouse.

The rest of the world has long retired to their slumber, leaving you to tiptoe to your room with just the faint glow of your iPhone’s torch to guide your way.

The excitement of the game still courses through your veins, and the boisterous rugby fans partying in the streets (because, let’s face it, the French know how to celebrate) make sleep an elusive companion.

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You find yourself wondering when that morning press conference is scheduled, attempting to calculate how many precious hours of sleep are left.

You toss and turn, only slipping into slumber as the sun begins to rise.

A few short hours later, your alarm rudely awakens you, and you drag yourself out of bed. Your head is pounding, and the previous night feels like a distant blur – a textbook hangover, even though you haven’t touched a drop of alcohol.

You summon your energy, fire up the coffee machine, and brace yourself to do it all over again.

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This is the life on tour, or at least, the less glamorous side of covering the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

From lugging around an improbable ten suitcases on trains during travel days to enduring the Parisian rain while filming an All Blacks training session from pitch-side, there’s a multitude of tasks that transpire behind the scenes. A senior colleague’s wise advice? Always have an “emergency baguette” on hand because you never know when you’ll get a chance to eat.

The tournament itself has been a grueling marathon: eight weeks of following the All Blacks from Paris to Lyon, Toulouse to Bordeaux, and then back to Lyon and Paris again. This journey equated to more than 20 hours of press conferences, roughly 50 hours spent in the back seat of an Uber, and another 10 hours on a train.

To keep us going, we’ve consumed an astonishing 560 cups of coffee, 170 baguettes, and well over 50 croissants.

As with any international work experience, there have been highs and lows.

Some of the most unforgettable moments of this campaign have transpired on game nights – amusingly, the most frenetic and unpredictable days on tour. We arrive at the stadiums up to four hours before kick-off to navigate the labyrinth of security and media zones. It might sound like an excessive amount of time, but game days have a knack for throwing curveballs.

For instance, on the opening night of the World Cup, my accreditation was unexpectedly declined at the gate.

None of the security guards spoke English, and my French proficiency was anything but stellar. Trying to decipher what was wrong with my pass and how to rectify it felt as challenging as navigating the Arc de Triomphe roundabout.

Eventually, an organizer pointed me to the accreditation center – located on the opposite side of the stadium. I spent a good 20 minutes battling through a throng of fans outside Stade de France in scorching 35°C heat.

After sweating it out, I finally got my pass sorted and returned to the gate nearly an hour later, desperate for the refuge of the air-conditioned media room.

I also had the distinct privilege of celebrating my 27th birthday on tour in a rather unique fashion – perched on the sidewalk outside Lyon’s OL Stadium, editing a show on my laptop at 1 a.m. However, the All Blacks granted me a birthday gift in the form of a victory over Italy, so it all balanced out in the end!

I can’t quite recollect what it’s like to lead a life of routine, as clichéd as it may sound, because no two days on tour are alike. Now, with the end in sight, it’s bittersweet. Surprisingly, I might even miss the adrenaline rush of those 4 a.m. game night finishes.

How to Follow the World Cup Final:

Sunday, 8 a.m.

Stay updated: nzherald.co.nz

Listen to commentary: Join Elliott Smith on Newstalk ZB, Gold Sport, and iHeartRadio, or tune in to the ACC on iHeartRadio or Hauraki.

Get comprehensive coverage of the Rugby World Cup.

Reference:

https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/watch-behind-the-scenes-at-the-rugby-world-cup/J5QG6XUD6VERVMJSQKH2CDXOIE/

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