By Mike Petri
With another quick turn around and another travel day after Australia, we had no time to waste. We woke up Saturday morning for a recovery session and then boarded a plane for Nelson. At 25 minutes it was undoubtedly the shortest and easiest flight I've ever been on, especially since I'm not a huge fan of flying. Compare that to how my wife made the trip by taking a boat from Wellington to the top of the South Island for 3 hours and then making the 2 hour drive down to Nelson through the rolling country hills and the flight sounds even better!
As soon we as landed most of the guys went straight to work on video analysis for Italy. Since guys were still pretty sore we didn't have rugby that day so it was important to buckle down the technical parts of our preparation.
Flying in to Nelson it was obvious why it is known as New Zealand's summer vacation resort. The gold sand beaches and turquoise blue water looked amazing. The snow-capped mountains in the backdrop made it all seem like someplace out of a postcard. It is also one of the sunniest places in New Zealand! If it wasn't over 20 hours away from New York I'd say it is a place I'd go back to for a weekend vacation in the summer time. Unfortunately though it was pretty cold throughout our stay, but at least it wasn't pouring rain like the rest of our trip had pretty much been.
Our accommodation in Nelson was pretty different, too. It was a small resort village with brick cottages lined up around the property. Its quaintness reminded me of the Cotswald area in England. There were 2 players per cottage apartment, but the downside was that instead of our usual double or queen bed setup these rooms had two small twin beds. So some of our bigger guys weren't too thrilled!
We spent the rest of our trip gearing up for the Italians. In our down time during that short period, we usually all ended up together in the team room watching the other tournament games on the big screen. It was pretty cool to be a spectator and see how big of a deal the tournament was and then suddenly realize that we were there competing, too. It made me wonder if other teams were doing the same thing and watching when we played.
I had been really excited about this game against Italy for a long time. My family, on both my mom and dad's side (with the exception of my maternal grandfather), came to the United States from Italy at the beginning of the century. We still carry on many of the traditions and celebrate our Italian -American culture. Furthermore, our family plumbing business has been passed down since my great grandfather arrived here in 1906 from Sorrento. So I am without question 100% American but like many other Americans I am also certainly proud of my heritage. To have the opportunity to play against the country of my lineage was absolutely awesome and a really big deal for my family and friends back home in New York.
On a side note, along the lines of support from back home, perhaps the funniest message I received all tournament was prior to this game: "Leave the gun, take the cannoli... good luck against Italy, Mike!" A classic quote from the Godfather... and not to mention cannoli is without a doubt my favorite dessert!
We played our hearts out once again that night but the Italians were up to the challenge and were able to grind out the win. It was a bittersweet way to end the tournament since we all believed that this was a winnable game, but we had to be proud of our efforts throughout the past month and realize we had held our own in a tough Rugby World Cup pool.
We received our World Cup medals and made our final lap around the field to thank the thousand of family, friends, and fans that had traveled with us to share this experience and showed unwavering support in every game we played. We are grateful to have such a loyal, faithful, and entertaining fan base. They were patriotic and proud to be supporting the red, white, and blue every time we took the field.
Now all that's left on the agenda is a closure meeting with the coaching staff before we board our plane back home. Time to relax a little, take a step back, and take it all in...
Read more form the Mike Petri Rugby World Cup blog and check back for coming posts.
Gilbert has released a new line of rugby cleats. The Gilbert Virtuo 8S is part of the exciting new product. Check it out.
The entire All Blacks apparel line has been updated for 2013/14. Check out the New Zealand All Blacks polo.
The Nike Tiempo is a solid rugby cleat and one of few styles still made from full-grain natural leather.
The Gilbert Blitz 8S rugby cleat is a great cleat at a great price of $69.99. Get a new pair of cleats today.
A cool looking all black rugby cleat with the high performance adidas is known for. Get in the Gear!
Wear the crest of the British and Irish Lions on your t-shirt. A great look for the summer.
The All Blacks Performance t-shirt is black with hints of blue from the training jersey. Very Cool.
The New Zealand All Blacks training jersey for 2013/14. Get in the Gear!
The USA Rugby Pro Alternate rugby jersey is perfect for any fan of the Eagles. Get yours to wear during the summer Test matches.
The NEW All Blacks 2013/14 jersey has arrived at World Rugby Shop. Dare to wear the colors of the All Blacks.