Monday, October 17, 2011

Final finally

Our house yesterday evening:
I didn't even know we had this until Fi discovered it while rummaging around for something else. Seemed only natural to join the rest of the flags up around the neighbourhood.

I'm not the hugest rugby fan in the world, but I do like watching my team, and like it even more when they win. My cynicism around the World Cup mostly sprang from the way it was promoted, but also a little bit from being wary of committing to the idea that this time we might actually win the thing. After last night's semi final win ruthlessly brushing aside our closest rival and biggest threat 20-6, a whole lot of people are daring to hope, and swinging from very (very) quiet confidence to well placed belief that this time next week we will be World Champions for the first time in 24 years (could be worse, we could be English football fans; their national side hasn't won the Soccer World Cup since 1966). The tension before the game was the most I have felt for any AB's match I have ever seen. Interesting though, throughout the game the AB's themselves were the most pumped and psyched I have ever seen as well, which was borne out in the result. Australia didn't play that terribly; we were just a lot better.

For the country renowned as generally being the best in the game historically (with the All Blacks being one of the most winning teams in any code worldwide), the lack of World Cup success has been mystifying and frustrating, and ultimately monkey on the back building. After winning the inaugural event in 1987, we only reached the final again in 1995, and have fallen at the quarters and semi's every other time (1991, 1999, 2003, 2007, the last mentioned here).

A few other hoodoos around the tournament:

-Prior to last night, the All Blacks had never beaten Australia at a world cup. Hoodoo broken.

-Conversely Australia haven't won a match at last night's venue since 1986. Hoodoo stands.

-In prior world cups, the team that beat the reigning champions went on to win it. Australia did that this time, eliminating our other biggest rival South Africa in last weeks quarter final, but that trend is now broken.

Also in prior world cups, no team that has been defeated in pool play has gone on to win the tournament. Since Australia got knocked over by Ireland a few weeks ago, that trend still stands. The AB's are the only undefeated team in this years tournament.

-Our final opponent, France has eliminated NZ from a world cup twice and have been regarded as a bogey team for NZ, mostly because they are so unpredictable even the French themselves don't know which team (the rubbish one or the awesome one) will turn up on the day. We thumped France in pool play this time, so that monkey if not dead, is seriously wounded. Plus France lost not once in pool play, but twice (see above), and were lucky at best to win their quarter final. They are not to be underestimated, but if the AB's play the final with the intensity and clinicality they displayed last night, no team in the world right now can beat them.

Still it isn't over until it's over. The final matchup is the same as it was in 1987; all going well the result will be too.

And kind of apropos of nothing, but I liked the sky at dusk last night, so here it is:

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