Auckland salutes heroes as All Blacks parade cup

NEW ZEALAND captain Richie McCaw admitted to being “blown away” yesterday after an estimated quarter of a million people lined the streets of Auckland to toast the World Cup winners.

McCaw, head coach Graham Henry and the rest of the All Blacks paraded through the city with the Webb Ellis Cup less than 24 hours after they had defeated France 8-7 in a titanic final at nearby Eden Park.

Prime Minister John Key also joined the party, which saw crowds 20 people deep in some places and was the biggest celebration since the country’s America’s Cup crew Black Magic won the famous sailing prize in 1995. “I was blown away, it just shows the amount of support and passion there is for the All Blacks and rugby in New Zealand,” said McCaw.

“Kiwis sometimes don’t show their emotions too much but there was plenty of that there.”

Former Wales and Lions coach Henry also revelled in the celebrations but refused to discuss his future, which will include a stint with the Barbarians.

“It’s unbelievable, mind-blowing, the number of people out there was just incredible,” he said. “I thank them from the bottom of my heart.”

Fly-half Dan Carter, whose tournament was ended prematurely by a groin injury, added: “This is very special. I can’t believe how many people are out here. This is just awesome.”