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Winning the World Cup would be bittersweet for Australians

The ARU's new strategy plan is moving rugby in a much-needed direction. (EPA/ANDY RAIN)
Roar Guru
20th October, 2015
316
5665 Reads

So Aussie rugby fans, here’s a moral dilemma: World Rugby (former IRB) tells us that referee Craig Joubert erred in awarding the Wallabies a 78th minute penalty goal against Scotland.

It should have been a scrum. We’ll come back to the moral dilemma soon.

Now with the scrum, there are so many things that need to go right before you can even think about your options.

The forwards would have required a stable platform, with the ball being channelled back through the centre under control, then perhaps a quick, flat delivery from Nick Phipps to Bernard Foley for a drop goal attempt.

Was the drop goal on? Considering the timeframe, and the score, most definitely.

By the time the ball got to Foley, time would most certainly be just about up (considering how long it can take to set a scrum properly) and the defenders would be charging directly at him.

Assuming he received a good pass from Phipps, and was able to set himself correctly, Foley would then have had to hit the ball sweetly and accurately.

Again, that’s a lot of things to get right in a compressed timeframe. And if not the drop, would the Wallabies have tried to run the ball for a try?

Perhaps, even probably, considering they had already scored five good tries against the Scots. And with a potential try in the offing, they could build momentum through numerous rucks, while the drop goal is usually a one-off option.

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Anyway, so much for the ‘what ifs’.

World Rugby’s statement that referee Joubert made a mistake means that the rest of the world now see Australia as illegitimate contenders. In short, we shouldn’t be there.

Someone, I think it was fellow Roarer Red Kev, made the point that the Wallabies can say goodbye to any 50-50 calls in their favour in their next two matches.

So what do Wallabies supporters think? Is there a sense of unease about the Wallabies progressing under such fortuitous circumstances?

Or is the attitude a philistine one of the end justifying the means?

Let’s forget about the Wallabies playing the more enterprising rugby in the quarter-final against Scotland. The brutal fact is that at the 78th minute of the match, the Wallabies were out of the World Cup and were going home.

Only a miracle could save them, and the miracle came, not by their own skill and daring, as in 1991, but by a botched decision from the ref in their favour.

Here’s the second moral dilemma for Aussies. We pride ourselves on the ‘fair go’.

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Ask most Aussies what they like about their country, and the idea of a fair go would be at the top of the list, along with things like mateship, tolerance, egalitarianism, innovation, independence, hard work and a sense of humour and fun.

So how do we feel about progressing from a referee’s poor judgement? Where’s the Aussie fair go in that?

The sad thing is, having dispatched England and Wales bravely, and now Scotland in highly contentious circumstances, the rest of the world are probably going to let us know at every opportunity that we are pretenders, and not deserving contenders.

What kind of reaction do you think Stephen Moore will get if he steps up to the podium to lift the William Webb Ellis Cup as world champions?

If the Wallabies win the final through scintillating rugby against either the All Blacks or Springboks, the rest of the world might forgive us. Maybe.

But if there’s any sense that we’ve ridden our luck beyond what is reasonable, then I think the Wallabies will be the most unpopular and disliked world champions in history.

Should we care?

I know I do, but I get the impression many Aussie Roarers, from their writings, won’t give a toss.

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Here’s your opportunity to tell me if you have a soul, or not.

I’m on record as saying the World Cup champions ought to be someone that brings credit to the game, and right now no country deserves that honour more than New Zealand.

The All Blacks have effectively been the best rugby nation on earth for the best part of a decade. And they have only got better.

A recent study by The New Zealand Herald showed that while the All Blacks won 71 per cent of their matches in the amateur era, they have increased their winning ratio to 83 per cent in the professional era.

This upward trend has cut against most pundits’ predictions (including me), that New Zealand’s small population and economic base would work against them in the professional era.

In addition to this, New Zealand have arguably the game’s greatest ever player in Richie McCaw and greatest ever flyhalf in Dan Carter.

McCaw has played 146 Tests and is the fourth most winningest player in history (89.04 per cent), of those who have appeared in more than 50 Tests.

The three marginally ahead of him are all fellow current All Blacks Sam Whitelock (tops at 90.14), Conrad Smith and Ma’a Nonu.

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Pick an all-time, best-ever XV and there’s a very good chance that at least a third of the team will be All Blacks. They are to rugby what the Selecao (Brazil) are to football, or the baggy greens (Australia) are to cricket.

My view of Australia as a country is that we have changed perhaps for the worse.

As a society we have become more self-centred and materialistic. Ripping each other off, especially in the major cities, is now an industry in itself.

Most sporting fans, I’ve observed, are also selfish.

It’s all about their enjoyment. And the best way to maximise your enjoyment is when your team wins. How they win is a trifling matter often quickly dispensed with. All that matters is that my team won.

As journalist Greg Baum once said: “Winning needs no explanation, losing has no alibi.” That could be the motto of Wallabies fans?

I’m uncomfortable about what has transpired. I’m still going to root for the Wallabies. I have enjoyed the fact they have rediscovered their love of the gold jersey, their enterprise, their self-belief, their love of rugby.

But there will be a bittersweet feeling if they triumph in the World Cup.

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Perhaps the last word should go to former Labor leader Arthur Calwell: “It is better to be defeated on principle than to win on lies.”

The All Blacks will win the World Cup, the Wallabies will be worthy runners-up (if lucky to have got there), and all will be good with the world of rugby.