Monday, 3 December 2012

Death by Misadventure

Pigs can fly.
Okay then ... England were fantastic on Saturday. I had to wait 15 hours or so to watch that game, and somehow managed to avoid all the bloodletting, so I did not know the result even by 5pm Sunday.

I sat there, yelling at first, as things went (wrong) right for (us) them, and the All Blacks were increasingly starved first of space, then ball ... and gradually even possession and ruck dominance. Sure it hurt even more when slipped tackles or a rush of blood in the defensive line allowed them to nail in two tries in the second half after we had clawed back the deficit, but the fact remains we were outplayed by a superlative English effort.

So we have to live with that. Losing to them. Them! Them, and their bloody press. Let them have their moment though. Full credit. Better team won on the day. Fifth best team in the world and we lost to them. Feck!

Right. Tangent time: On the weekend I had the pleasure of going to an event in Wellington called the Pride Awards that aims at “Celebrating young people’s successes however small they are”. It was pretty inspiring, the kids were bloody amazing, frankly. However, the message behind the awards, delivered really succinctly by the man who started them, Moses Ariama, was that we should not drive our kids to "be the best, but to simply be better".

Naturally I have somehow twisted this to fit a lowly rugby blog's mad purpose, but I thought there was a grain of relevance for the All Blacks and the NZRU in that.

Post-RWC 2011, all the talk this year has been of records – beating Lithuania's world record of consecutive wins, passing our own record tally (shared with South Africa), then going through a year or a calendar year unbeaten. It is all bollocks and has come crumbling down with player burnout and games too many.

Tew and Co. have forced two matches on the team this year they did not have to play. First, we should not be playing an extra, third, match for the Bledisloe Cup against Australia every season. Waste of time, there's nothing it in that benefits New Zealand, and it only props up the ARU. Like it or not, that trophy is played for during The Rugby Championship, it does not need a third match.

Secondly, that match at Twickenham, outside the official IRB Test window, was played so the NZRU could lever $4 million out of the English Union – and I would say they got a great deal. The English that is.

Those two games were basically the NZRU forcing the All Blacks to busk. If the AIG jersey deal is so bloody good, why are we pimping our All Blacks out at the exact moment they should be resting up for 2013?

I apologise for singling out the two matches we did not win this year. This may look like sour grapes, but All Black fans can not deny the fact that in those two Tests we were, first matched by Australia, then outplayed by England. However, they were both overhyped and unnecessary in a year where the All Blacks could have just eased off a little. Heresy, you say? Maybe.

Zoom out a little, and this is no crisis. Both Australia and England have their own consistency and selection issues to solve as we all build towards RWC2015, and hell ... a little navel gazing will not hurt New Zealand, and may bring some clarity over playing favourites with some of our older internationals.

Congratulations to the English though. That is the greatest game I have ever seen you play. Many times, well, almost every season, we see you prepare and get built up with the same degree of bullshit bulldoghype, and many times actually produce a frenzied intensity on the pitch ... but not for 80 minutes, and not against the All Blacks. Watershed for English rugby? That will have to wait for at least a Grand Slam Six Nations win next year, but for now Stuart Lancaster and his young team should feel safe and loved. Just not in New Zealand.

Just please, please, please ... can someone tell Chris Ashton to fuck of with his swan dive.

PS Not heard from Ferdy, I’m thinking she is in hiding in London

PPS As a Westham fan, I actually blame Nonu, Messam, Dagg and Aaron Smith for this loss: they should never have accepted an invitation to Chelsea FC last and posed in blue for pics They jinxed us.

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