So now our eyes shift from the bloodied fields of South Africa, to the spotlight of Sydney. The former champion Springboks, shadows of their former selves, are left with little to show other than bitter disappointment.
In retrospect, the Springboks’ steady stream of excuses, and cursing and finger-pointing and conspiracies during the tournament look jaded now, embarrassing even.
The rugby fields on the high veldt have grown silent and will remain so until 2011. But a vibrant Sydney warmly awaits the returning Wallabies and the noise is just beginning.
Has a new dawn risen in the southern hemisphere or is it, yet again, misguided enthusiasm by the Wallaby devotees drunken by the sweet nectars of victory?
And this was a victory that was last felt when most of us were hardly a twinkle in our father’s eye.
From across the waters, the All Blacks come with only one agenda – to beat the Wallabies for an unprecedented ten times on the trot, and to continue their rampaging march of fourteen victories, their path littered with the corpses of many a team including the Boks, Australia, Ireland, Wales and France.
As one battlefield closes for the Wallabies, another one opens, with the first salvos of the new war loaded with the dense fog of psi-ops.
On top of the agenda for Australia is to disempower the All Blacks’ Haka.
Only just in their last outing, those in charge of the South Africa media disgraced themselves by selfishly switching off the pick-ups so that the entire world of rugby watching fans were denied the opportunity to hear the Haka. Justice was vicariously served with a spectacular win over the Bok by the All Blacks.
This Saturday, the old boys rugby choir composed of 13 ex-rugby players will lead out with their rendition of Advance Australia Fair. The choir was able to raise 10,000 online signatures and deserve the opportunity to proudly rattle their tonsils for their country. They have vowed to deliver a version of the anthem that avoids vocal gymnastics so that the players can sing along in time.
After that, as is tradition, the All Blacks will present their challenge to the Wallabies by performing a Haka.
After the Haka, Australian country singer John Williamson has resurrected his solo rendition of Waltzing Matilda.
Williamson was used to promote the “alternative anthem” on several occasions after an initial Tri Nations crowd spontaneously burst into unified singing. However, attempts to reenact the spontaneity meet with an embarrassing shuffling of feet and only murmurs from the crowd and it was eventually abandoned.
This resurrection is puzzling.
Waltzing Matilda is essentially the story of a vagrant who steals a sheep (which was a hangable offence at the time), intentionally drowns himself in a watering hole to escape the law, and then haunts the site as a ghost figure.
The story is most likely based on the real life Samuel Hoffmeister (Frenchy) who shot himself after killing a number of sheep during a strike – although this year an investigation came to light that Hoffmeister may in fact have been a victim of a gangland assassination.
While no royalties are required to be paid by the ARU in Australia, the fact that it is broadcast internationally would likely mean that royalties are due to American Publishers Carl Fischer Music who own the copyright to the song. Is this the song we want to counter the Haka?