Tuesday, 16 October 2007

All Blacks Find Some Rare Allies

The All Blacks bowing out early in the Rugby World Cup 2007 have made a lot of people deliriously happy - particularly in England. Stephen Jones gave himself a near aneurism in his post match preening after New Zealand's early exit. Alastair Campbell – 2005 Lions ‘advisor’ and let's not forget media spin doctor to Tony Blair and producer of sexed up dossiers directly responsible for a certain drawn out war in Iraq still being tragically fought out, has the audacity to put his two pence in when it comes to something he knows very little about.

"They do the chokey chokey and its ooh la la" Campbell raves. "The hubris belonged to the now not so all-mighty All Blacks. The schadenfreude belongs to all those who like to see the arrogant brought crashing down to earth". (Just like we loved seeing you crash down to earth Alastair in your Lions tracksuit as you sat soddenly on the sidelines in the Cake Tim in 2005 watching the 'greatest most prepared Lions team in history' be turned over at will by a team that reached the heights of rugby that any England team past or present could only dream to play).

World Cups aren't won by tries and they aren't won by flair. So fair play to England for making it through to the final. They played the tournament strategically and they have done well. I admire their spirit and I tip my hat to Ashton, Jonny and co. But the hideous and ungracious bile pointed towards New Zealanders coming from some of these internationally respected media outlets and factions of the British public is seriously disturbing. It reeks of insecurity and a subconscious acknowledgement that the best team in the world will not be contesting the world cup final.

From the numerous articles revelling in the All Blacks loss to the French comes some surprising allies. Wayne Smith - rugby editor of the Australian says this of the English reaction to New Zealand:

"Speaking out in defence of our trans-Tasman cousins who find themselves on the receiving end of another poisonous missive from the self-appointed, self-anointed high priest of northern hemisphere rugby, Stephen Jones....one thing about a win straight out of left field, it certainly brings out the pomposity in the Poms. New Zealand did not deserve to lose to France, as spirited and passionate as was the performance of Les Bleus. And the World Cup is infinitely the poorer for its departure.

“The All Blacks may well have taken a lot from the game but it has given far, far more back in return. It has given the world a vision of how rugby can be played and the scope of that vision has been wondrous to behold. Of course, none of that is going to be apparent to a blinkered critic.”

Nice Wayne. Perhaps the biggest surprise was that great All Black knocker and all around villain Bernie Laporte piping up with his opinions as he made his dramatic au revoir from rugby’s world stage..

"They (the Abs) are the best team in the world. We beat them but if we had played them the next day and the following days, there was a great chance we would have lost. Who has played any (attacking) rugby? The only ones are the All Blacks."

For the full article from the Australian - go here.


Nursedude said...

For a guy who is about the enter the rare-air of French Politics, Laporte's commentary was spot on. The All Blacks were the only team who really tried to play ball in hand and tried to win with style points. I have to root for the 'Boks on Saturday. For this English team to win it all with this type of rugby is akin to the cynical, defensive play of the Italians in last years soccer/football World Cup. It's one thing to appreciate good defense, but it is a whole different thing when you play not to lose, rather than playing to win. An England win fought in the same trench warfare fashion as its wins against Australia and France will not be a good thing for Rugby as a spectator sport.

Joe said...

Ferdy, reading your posts you're not often wide of the mark - so I've got to pick you up on this one. There's no "subconscious acknowledgment" of the AB's superiority at play here. For the large majority of the rugby-loving public here, that point is firmly in the conscious. Of course NZ are the better team. They had a bad evening and the thrill - and pain - of knock-out tournaments is that that is all it takes to undo years of hard work and "playing the right way". The more grounded England followers (and I do believe its a majority) are also quite aware that this is the final that no neutral wanted. A case of who do you want to lose most? The media comments you describe are a disgrace and an embarrassment - and in all honesty, they're not the only such examples I've seen and been equally embarrassed by - but neither are they typical. The balance of the reporting (and public reaction) has been much more of genuine surprise (and yes, pride) that a limited squad, with a limited gameplan and in crappy form should have pulled out one more stunning result than can be called a pure fluke. The joy has come from unexpected wins against better sides - not from any belief in our own superiority. There's a difference - and there's a place for that in spectator sport... which is where I'd take issue with nursedude. The England v Australia and France games and NZ v France were every bit as absorbing to watch as probably the best rugby game so far (Fiji v Wales) - mistakes, poor decisions, defensive preoccupations and all.

Prediction for Saturday? I'll have to let heart and head call in different directions one more time.

Keep up the good work... don't be disheartened... don't lose faith in human nature... and don't be too hard on us poms on account of the same few ungracious numpties in our media as in everybody else's!

Ferdy said...

Hey Josie,

Thanks so much for dropping by and commenting - I really appreciate your words. You are indeed right and I acknowledge that most English fans are very gracious, good humoured and lovely (speaking from experience of living there for seven years and so many good friends now who are naturally - absolutely delighted).

I felt compelled to have a wee rant because you hear the bad stuff said about your team (it always surprises me how much Stephen Jones can actually get away with and as for Campbell...well i better not start again) and it just hurts more. (Especially when the NZ fans are dragged through the mud too!)

As for the England rugby team. I find it incredible they have made it to the final, but as I said - it is an amazing feat and I really do give credit to their mental toughness and resilience. Their forwards have stepped up and they play a gameplan that is simple yet effective. I firmly believe this is going to win the tournament for them.

Please drop by again and once again - thanks for your words of wisdom. Good luck to your team this weekend and I hope very much you enjoy every moment with your team making it through to the final. Kia Kaha and Peace.

Anonymous said...

New Zealand will never win the World Cup again!! not even in NZ 2011.

cut all the BS will ya, bet against them an at least youd get a chance at a even bet...y,?

bit like the league, send a player off for 57 miuntes, 12 against 13, not even the OZ boys could have pulled that one off! 51 tackles missed yep 45 of which steve matai would have made?

So now we have players ABs been sent off hmm, melbourne ring a bell!, even the Foxtels crew choked on that one, paddy said the forward pass didnt lose the game for the ABs-true ,Richie got stomped in the first few minutes of that game, the ref did nothing, but hell did he ever protect the french when they were playing offside at the ruck an the ABs tryed to clear the ruck.bout time we really got stuck in like the old days rip into them, so we lose a player whats new,
the world cup was an extention of the 6 nations, take away the fan fare, an it was crap....rugby...made even worse ( buy) sub standard refs, its very easy for a team to lose shape when there been penalised or questioned off the park an the ABs are no different as excellent as they are. Ask your self , if you domainated in your job , been the best in the world for 4 yrs, an then an asshole comes in an says sorry you cant do that its against the rules would you be confused, ahh off your game perhaps, bit hesitate --maybe unable to play your natural game --for sure, the whole nation hopes riding on your back..but still cant play the way you have ALL over the world an then get told on the biggest game of your caree in a WC sorry no can do.

The French were ALLOWED by a Europe Ref to dominate thru confusion an because of this the ABs lost!! nothing to do with lack of passion or fire thats more crap, so thats the 2nd for the frogs will there be a 3rd at HOME...you bet...

In NZ 2011 will the best , favoured team in the world lose at home because we didnt have the fire or passion, can hear the greatest ABs in there graves at home believing that one, we may have sheep.. but theres never been wool over our eyes...England ran around for 4 years gloating an won nothing ,the Boks wont!

come 2011 france to win again because its a sure bet, politics an gambling never happens in Rugby right or cricket or horse racing yeah right....maybe the ABs had horse flu ..lol

Joe said...

Now that is interesting. I really hadn't thought about it like that - but now you say it, it all makes perfect sense. Clearly the ABs' ref-headed English frog rucked the confused rugby grave a bit like the old days. I'll sleep easier now. Thank you Anonymous.