The Rugby World Cup is over, let the rugby speak again
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The World Cup 2011 is over and finally the All Blacks have got a monkey (you can call that monkey a King Kong, if you like) off their backs.
It’s a most suited time to say it loud, to say it from an All Blacks’ fan perspective: the Rugby World Cup is a very over-rated tournament.
Yes, we are all happy because they (the All Blacks) have it. Chokers? Have we got rid of that word for good? Good.
We have been waiting for this to happen for ages. And in the end, satisfaction is what remains. They have got it. They managed to win the ‘thing’.
But now, let’s put it clearly: this tournament, like every World Cup, cannot be the only thing that matters in international rugby. No way.
When twenty-odd years ago, Australia and New Zealand came up with the old idea of having a global tournament to sort out who was the leading rugby team, someone should have warned them that the most dangerous dreams are those that are fulfilled.
Take the Tri Nations, for instance.
How high have you rated this 2011 edition? Do you really care that the Super XV has got an Australian winner, a decade after the last of the Brumbies’ victories?
Do you really think England is the leading northern hemisphere team, as they have won the Six Nations tournament?
The World Cup has had such a success that it is really threatening to make international rugby meaningless except once every four years!
If we look at the tournament in hindsight, we must agree that rugby must be glad that the All Blacks have lifted the trophy.
Would you have felt any good if the team to win the Webb Ellis Cup had lost two pool games?
What about the semi-final game against the brave Welsh? If only Leigh Halfpenny’s kick had travelled 50 centimeters farther, the French would have succumbed to a 14-men Wales.
Is that what you would expect of the winner of a trophy, that supposedly sorts out the best team in the world? The fact that the All Blacks only got their hands on the trophy after numerous passages of play where the French team were clearly superior, speaks volumes of the nature of the tournament and what would have happened if only Stephen Donald’s penalty had fared a bit wider.
South Africa and Ireland have, in my opinion, played better than their fate in quarter-finals suggests.
Wales, too, have received less reward than they deserved and the French, although they have a very strong team (as we have been reminded in a very physical final game), didn’t play particularly well.
Now for the next four years, the task for the All Blacks shall be to live up to their billing as reigning world champions.
I am sure they will and here I must add here that not every team has managed to do so after a successful World Cup; most notably England, after their magnificent 2003 win.
A great deal of international rugby reputation will rely on how well they fare. And I wish, for the sake of the All Blacks and for the sake of the international rugby, that they play as well as they have throughout this tournament.
Next year, a new version of the top southern hemisphere competition shall be held and Argentina will joined the ‘Big Three’; and lots of other excitng things are going to happen in international rugby while we may be lazily waiting for the 2015 date to arrive.
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