19 Sep 2015

Rugby fans make most of bar law change

12:52 pm on 19 September 2015

Anusha Bradley and Tiana Barnes - @AnushaBradley @Tiana_Barns

The behaviour of rugby fans who filled big-city bars to watch the first World Cup game this morning has been given a big tick from the police.

Rugby World Cup fans

Fijian supporter Saimoni Narube, centre, and his friends ate breakfast while watching the game. Photo: Anusha Bradley/ RNZ

Under legislation specially passed by parliament last month, many bars opened their doors at six for the opening ceremony and the police said patrons drank responsibly and were well behaved.

A handful of bars were open at Auckland's Viaduct Harbour for the first game between England and Fiji, but most were not full as fans may have been put off by the drizzly morning.

But it was standing room only in the Fox Sporting Bar where many had prebooked tables and enjoyed a fry up and the opportunity to watch the game over a pint

Briton Edward Rush was backing his countrymen to win the tournament and said it was great to be able to watch the game in a pub, despite the awkward timing.

"I'd thought I'd make most of the opportunity to have a couple of early beers, watch England dominate Fiji and enjoy the law change, it's quite novel," he said.

Fijian supporter Saimoni Narube was avoiding the alcohol, in favour of breakfast out and a chance to soak up the atmosphere.

"We came to a place like this just to share the moment with other supporters," he said.

Rugby World Cup fans

New Zealand fans Clint Martin and Dion kidd with England fan James Arnold. Photo: Anusha Bradley/ RNZ

In Wellington, about 50 fans gathered at the Four Kings and Five Stags restaurant and bar.

Owner Matt McLaughlin said it was no surprise only about 10 percent of sales were alcohol, with most patrons opting for breakfast and coffee.

"Tonight might be a little bit different when people can drink right through. People had to get up to watch this game, so we'll probably see how it might pan out but I can't see it being a problem provided publicans that do open stick to the rules."

There have been no reports of rugby-related trouble in either Queenstown, Christchurch and Dunedin but police said officers will be highly visible throughout the six-week tournament and they're urging revellers to take care.