After cycling through Europe, the Middle East, Asia and the Australian Outback, the pair arrived in Dunedin in time for the tournament’s opening night, spent a few days visiting family, then set off on the road again.
Now they’re on the final stretch of the epic 18-month journey, heading north from Hamilton to Auckland - a 126km journey that they aim to complete at Eden Park on the evening of the quarter final knock-out stages on 8 October.
While they don’t have tickets for the tournament final, they have managed to catch several matches along the way, including Sunday’s Wales - Fiji clash.
World in Union
The intrepid cyclists - who celebrated their 30th birthdays en route - left jobs in London to travel to New Zealand, setting off from Twickenham Stadium in London on 1 May last year.
The highs and lows of their trip have included intense heat, frostbite, mountains, angry bears, consuming kilos of dry pasta on their $10 per day budget, and the joy of meeting rugby supporters everywhere they went.
Along the way they’ve taken RWC’s “World in Union” motto to heart by visiting off-the-beaten-track rugby clubs, raising awareness for the game and money for charity.
Funds raised for the Tag Rugby Trust charity will be used to help improve the lives of young people in third world countries. The cyclists are also encouraging local rugby clubs to buddy with clubs in less developed countries.
Tom is a keen rugby player who has played for several London clubs including Finchley where New Zealand rugby pioneer Charles Monro also once played.
Jodie describes herself as “a bit of an outdoors girl” and a huge rugby fan.
Neither had cycled any great distance before they set off on the road to Rugby World Cup but say they were inspired by the idea that rugby could help “break down the walls between cultures”.
In each country, they contacted local rugby clubs and found fervent supporters of the oval ball wherever they went.
“The highlight of the journey has been the rugby community and culture - a single factor that brought everyone together,” Tom said. “The rugby spirit is truly unique.”
During their travels they met and collected signatures from rugby identities in every country. The 45 signatures are recorded on the World in Union scroll which has been presented to the NZ Rugby Museum in Palmerston North.
All Black captain Richie McCaw supplied the final signature just before celebrating his 100th test as captain.
New Zealand adventures
En route through New Zealand, the cyclists have rolled into Christchurch, Blenheim, Wellington, Palmerston North and Hamilton - and, with some tight deadlines to meet for matches, hitched a ride some of the way with Tranz Scenic rail.
“It’s the first time we have let go of our ‘pedal every inch’ policy but can’t think of a better way to do it. To be able to watch the wonderful scenery from the luxury of a train carriage was a real treat,” Jodie said.
South Island highlights included visiting vineyards and sampling the famed Marlborough sauvignon blanc at source, and a cruise with the mail boat on the Marlborough Sounds.
In Hamilton Waikato today they were visiting the Zealong Tea Estate - the only commercial oolong tea plantation outside China - and checking out the Waikato Museum’s rugby exhibition ‘Red, Yellow, (All) Black’.
“It has been a real pleasure to cycle in New Zealand and has definitely provided some of the most stunning scenery of the whole trip,” said Jodie.
It was obvious that rugby was “the heart and soul” of New Zealand, Tom said: “It doesn’t matter where you are it’s just a fantastic atmosphere.”
Along with sight-seeing, they have also had a chance to catch up with some of the visiting teams.
They attended the England team capping ceremony at the Dunedin Town Hall, and met the Russia rugby team in Marlborough. They were reacquainted with friends from Georgia and Romania in Palmerston North, and with John Kirwan and the Japan squad in Napier.
In Palmerston North, they visited the NZ Rugby Museum for the presentation of their commemorative scroll, which coincided with the museum’s official opening and unveiling of a statue to rugby pioneer Charles Monro.
Final lap to Auckland
After four days in Hamilton, they intend to set off on the final lap, heading to Auckland for the RWC quarter finals which begin on Saturday (8.10.2011).
Auckland’s Ponsonby Rugby Club has offered space so they can mount an exhibition about their travels.
Further down the track, they plan to spend their remaining time in New Zealand with family and concentrate on writing a book about their journey.
In January they plan to move on to Melbourne for further studies, but before then they hope to squeeze in some more travelling in New Zealand to see the bits they have missed - this time with a car.
Also in New Zealand today, City.Mobi is celebrating the success of its new guide to Auckland.
City.Mobi offers the most comprehensive mobile travel guides available, with over 800 cities in 200 countries listed. Each is developed by the City.Mobi team to combine into a single global travel directory.
Auckland.mobi is the latest in this illustrious line up, offering click to call functionality – which means no scribbling down telephone numbers.
Most entries are also linked to websites where users can quickly access more detailed information if needed.
Other key features include information on accommodation, restaurants, attractions, entertainment, nightlife, shopping, and transport.
City.Mobi guides include user reviews and traveller utilities such as a translation guide, currency converter, news and local weather guide.