Field Theory by Hadyn Green


A moment of national significance

The streets will be loud tonight, car horns will blare until the early hours, we will drink and scream and cheer and groan and complain and cheer again. We will applaud and slap backs and hug and some of us will cry. We will congratulate winners and buy drinks for losers. We will revel in the last night of a party that has been more fun than most of us expected, even the people who just wanted to hang out in the metaphorical kitchen.

Wherever you are, what ever your opinion on the game, if you watch it, you have to watch it with people. No hiding in the bedroom calling for updates, no sitting home alone watching the TV. Go out, the rest of the country is going to be. Even if you don't want to watch the game, I don't think we're going to see anything of this calibre here for a very long time, and you don't want to waste an event like this. It's the Halley's Comet of long weekends.

Win or lose, it's going to be loud. Right there, that third fucking word, I used the L-word. 

Despite the confidence of the rugby-watching public, the veneer is thin. We've been in this position before. Many, many times. Does it bear thinking about? Probably not. Then I read this, again.

In that four year-old thread Charles Mabbet collected Fairfax media commentary from just before our game against the French:

Jim Kayes: Forget '99, the last four years are what matters. The All Blacks are too quick, too strong, to skilful, too good. France has forgotten how to play French rugby. No scrum and little flair, they will rely heavily on a kicking game.

Marc Hinton: Everybody keeps saying that the French have a big one in them, a la '99. I don't see it. This is an average Les Bleus side and Bernard Laporte's selection gambles are nothing but last rolls of the dice. The All Blacks have been waiting a long time for a significant test at this tournament, and I fully expect them to be magnifique.

Tony Smith: The moment of reckoning. Now is the hour to justify the All Blacks' billing as world No 1. France can't beat them - they can only beat themselves. This is one of France's worst World Cup squads. Where are the backline Serges? Bernard Laporte has chosen robots as backs.

Greg Ford: Kip time is over lads. Time to earn your pay by bludgeoning France into submission and then by flaying them some more just for kicks. The tabloids in the UK call the French Cheese-Eating-Surrender-Monkeys. Could not have said it better myself. They'll roll up the white flag.

Check the papers today to see if they say the same thing. Though this isn't the same tension I had before the game against Australia. This is more a hope that we can actually finish it off this time.

I have previously joked that losing the World Cup in New Zealand's quadrennial tradition. But after all of this, all these weeks of travelling the country, of meeting some amazing people from around the world, of partying into the night because everyone is in high spirits, losing just doesn't seem like an option.

And then...

There's a lot of things going on right now that will suddenly be spotlit by a public and media in the lull that inevitably follows an event of this size. It's the hangover and no amount of Blue Powerade will help.

But until then, I'm going to wash myself in nostaligia at NZonScreen instead.

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