Ah, so the Wallabies won!
Wonderful. And against the All Blacks! Excellent. Displaying grit and passion and stirring spirit. Marvellous. We cannot help but be overjoyed by this result. It means that the four-match Bledisloe series this year finishes at a respectable 2-1, rather than the 4-0 it could’ve had a little bit of luck swung the other way, or – let’s be honest – if the on-paper strengths of the two teams had been reflected in results.
It’s certainly been a series of ups and downs for Wallaby fans, whose rollercoaster of emotions resembled the now-defunct Bush Beast at Australia’s Wonderland: steep, dizzying, and accompanied by the feeling that those interested in it were a very small minority. And indeed, we fans are probably kind of used to that rollercoaster by now.
But I feel it’s time we tried to break the habit. Such volatility of feeling is bad for the brain, not to mention the stomach. It leads to premature greying and ulcers. We need to try to stop riding the highs and lows so violently.
To put it bluntly, we need to stop falling for the Wallabies’ nonsense.
Remember last year? When Australia put a flurry of tries on a 14-man New Zealand side, won by a stack in Perth, and were hailed up and down the land as the new generation who would lead us out of darkness? Remember how one week later the same Australian team got beaten like a red-headed stepchild who just kicked Conor McGregor in the nuts?
Remember just a few weeks ago? When Australia bravely held the All Blacks to a draw on their home turf, in a game that could so easily have been a win to the gold jerseys? Remember how a week later Australia lost, but we still identified some positives in the performance and thought they had been competitive? Remember how in the next game New Zealand held Australia’s head in a car door and slammed it shut repeatedly for 80 full minutes?
Remember…oh, remember the last couple of decades, when basically the same thing has happened again, and again, and again, and again, and – stop me if you’ve heard this one before – again?
There is a sickness in Australian rugby culture, and it has nothing to do with over-privileged players being mollycoddled by the administration. It has nothing to do with rugby league’s growing dominance in the code wars resulting in the best young athletes turning their backs on the more venerable sport. It has nothing to do with dwindling popularity at the grassroots level, financial crises at head office or the continued existence of Alan Jones.
Australian rugby’s disease is simply that each new generation of Wallabies is inducted into a team culture that is committed heart and soul to cruelly teasing the public with false hope. Every time a Wallaby XV runs onto the field, they have one of two game plans: make the punters believe or crush the punters’ foolish dreams. It needs to stop, but the solution lies with us. They only manipulate us this way because we let them.
Let’s stop letting them. Next time Australia wins – or even draws – the first Test of a Bledisloe series – let us not even for a second entertain the possibility that we could win the cup back. Next time the Wallabies start the year well with a strong performance against a touring northern side prior to the Tri-Nations, let’s not even think of uttering the words, “good signs for the future there”. Next time Australia knocks off Argentina, let’s not succumb in any way to the temptation to think it means a damn thing.
If you see an exciting youngster debut for the Wallabies and carve up the defence in a superb start to an international career, don’t assume he’ll ever play well in a yellow jumper ever again. If you see one game where the lineout, scrum and breakdown all function perfectly, make sure you immediately leap to the conclusion that this was a fluke and next week everything will fall apart again, as the front row collapses, the locks kick the ball ahead in rucks and the hooker sends the ball soaring over the jumpers’ heads.
And every single time Australia wins a game of rugby union – against any country, but especially against New Zealand – nod your head and repeat after me, “Big loss coming next week then.”
Because this can’t go on. This lauding of a new era followed by a savage mauling by the rottweiler of reality has to stop. Australian souls are not strong enough to withstand it much longer. A line has to be drawn.
So I don’t want anyone to say, “Wallabies are a chance in the Bledisloe this year” until at least the day after the cup actually arrives at Rugby Australia headquarters. I don’t want to hear, “Finally, an Australian team that can match the All Blacks” until the entire New Zealand coaching staff has been sacked for chronic underperformance.
I don’t want to see any speculation on the possibility of a strong showing for the Wallabies in the World Cup until I have purchased the officially approved book telling the story of how that World Cup was won by those Wallabies. And I don’t want to see a single Australian rugby player described as a potential star of the future until they have played at least 50 Tests and won 40 of them.
It’s tough love, but if we stick to this plan, maybe those gorgeous golden-clad bastards will stop toying with our emotions. And in the end, they’ll thank us for it.