So the World Cup is over for the All Blacks. England closed out a great game, and as a Kiwi, I write this as a catharsis to deal with this grief.
Kudos to England for playing to a specific game plan. They had a plan, executed it, and got the win. Make no mistake, they were the better team tonight. But over the course of this game and this World Cup, I have come to realise I don’t like the World Cup.
I don’t like the anticipation. I don’t like the expectation. I don’t like the non-rugby tactics.
And tonight I don’t like the disappointment. I don’t like having to say that England were the better team and outplayed the All Blacks.
This is an empty feeling, spawned from the level of expectation and pressure for the All Blacks to deliver what has never been accomplished before: the three-peat. This is the curse of the All Blacks.
Normally I wear the curse with pride as the All Blacks seem to overcome all obstacles. Tonight they didn’t.
England are the team to beat. The way they executed an exact game plan and were able to follow it accurately is an exceptional ability.
South Africa were unlucky in the first game to lose to the All Blacks, but sometimes fate deals you a strange hand. They have been able to pick up an easier run to the final and have a good look at their potential opponents should they over come Wales tomorrow.
They know what they are up against, as I am sure Eddie Jones knows what he is up against, whoever triumphs tomorrow, as Eddie clearly looks at his opponent and devises ways to overcome them and render them fairly meek. At least tonight he did.
Who would have thought an analysis of your opponent would actually be useful?
The level of expectation and disappointment is a hurdle hard to deal with. As an All Blacks supporter, dealing with loss is not something we have to do on a regular basis, and it is a bitter pill to swallow.
I have taken my All Blacks top off, and I have taken the flag down in the living room. I am still an All Blacks supporter – I bleed black – but for me, the World Cup is over.
Full credit to Eddie Jones and the England team, from being the first country hosting a World Cup to not make the knock-out games four years ago, to making the final and convincingly executing a game plan to nullify the All Blacks’ cohesion and attack is a remarkable turnaround and something to behold.
Eddie Jones is a mastermind and Australia would be very wise to throw everything at him to bring him home to start looking after the Wallabies.
Loss is difficult when you experience the success of the All Blacks – ten years as number one, more years than I can count with the Bledisloe, back-to-back world champions.
I am sure the All Blacks will come back stronger than ever and reclaim the mantle of best in the world. Other teams rise for the occasion when playing the All Blacks. They play above themselves. The All Blacks’ scalp is the prized trophy to place on the mantle.
This level of expectation is very tiresome. For once it would be nice to be the underdog – the one that other people barrack for, like the Kiwi team in the Cricket World Cup final.
Although the world rankings may still list New Zealand as number one, if we were to face England tomorrow, I would expect to be going in as underdogs.
Strangely now, I am developing a desire to find some Biltong, and tomorrow night I think the kids and I will be having a braai. I just need to find a decent Boerewors, although in Melbourne, I am not sure how successful I will be.
I am becoming a staunch Springboks supporter, being the sole southern hemisphere team left standing. I will fight my brother, but together we fight the strangers from the north.
I would expect all non-English supporters to now get behind Rassie and his boys and will them through to the final and then on to triumph and glory.