In no way do I intend for this to become a "rugby blog"; one of those false-masculine affairs where "blokes" talk about sportsmen to the point where you might think that perhaps you have accidentally accessed a slash-fiction site.
However, I cannot help but write about rugby for the third time in as many posts (if you wish, scroll down to where I write about league and the Paralympics near the bottom). The game played on Saturday night between the All Blacks and the Wallabies was, in my own words:
Even Chris Rattue managed a nice word about the game:
Stirring. Nail biting. The All Blacks' victory on Saturday in one of the best football stadiums on the planet was as good as sport gets…
Of course this was after he wrote:
The stain of 2007 - the bizarre All Black World Cup campaign and the snubbing of Robbie Deans - will never go away… History is there to be studied, not revised by flinging around words such as "redemption". The only crumbs that can be offered to the revisionists is that the 2007 stain was given a light washing in Brisbane on Saturday night.
The 2007 stain? Oh for goodness sake man, let it go! I suggest Mr Rattue travel to Wellington next time for the Alternate Rugby Commentary which is where I watched the game with friends (though please don’t sit with us Chris).
The atmosphere before the game was, well, quite tense. Nearly everyone could tell that this was going to be close. I don’t know how many actually thought New Zealand would lose but there wasn’t any strutting confidence. The nervousness was not helped when Sione Lauaki was spotted training and there were people desperately hoping that there wasn’t some last minute injury that had included him in the team.
And then, Kapa O Pango. I have never seen a haka so loudly accepted by a pub since the first Kapa O Pango when people didn’t know what was going on.
And then Mils scored. There was cheering but it was happy and congratulatory, that would change.
Because, tragedy: a very good Ashley-Cooper try (followed by a very awkward group hug) and the Aussies were ahead 10-7. Then they were ahead 17-7. The pub was quieter than I have ever heard it.
Then Tony Woodcock went for a bit of a run and we all went a little bit crazy. Weepu scored off a nice bit of Sivivatu play and then Carter decided to just run around under the sticks. At this point there wasn’t cheering, there wasn’t yelling. At this point it was just sound. People were trying to make as much noise as they could, (drowning out the commentary they had all paid to listen to). Voices were incomprehensible, feet were stamping, and hands were clapping, slapping or clenched in order to make voices louder. It is hard to describe but it felt like if you could have shouted with the pores of your skin you would have.
Momentum was with the All Blacks and they weren’t relenting and neither was the crowd. Even a Ryan Cross try didn’t dissipate our energy and we were still at ear-bursting levels when:
The Men of Gold took the ball down to the All Blacks 22 with some excellent handling and committed charges but the move broke down when it seemed an All Blacks player had clearly charged in at the side of the ruck.
That’s the ARU take on it anyway (the "men of gold" are the Wallabies by the way).
The noise as the ball sailed out of bounds, while not as loud as it had been for the last two tries, was still quite considerable. After it had all calmed down I went to speak to my friend and found no sound coming out of my mouth, just a harsh rasp. And that is how I still am this morning, rather hoarse.
- I don’t think any player on either team had a particularly bad game.
- Kaino is turning into a very good third of the loose trio.
- Adam Freier is a dirty cheat (there I said it).
- Putting real pressure on the distributors at the set-pieces seems to be a tactic that really works (i.e. Cowan on the rookie Brown at the scrum).
- The Aussie lineout is back to being decent.
- Kahui suffered a cut to the nose, a cause of some concern as we attempt to maintain a level of prettiness in the All Blacks.
- And Stephen Donald is from Waiuku, who knew? Not my ladyfriend who was taught history by his Dad.
If the All Black’s win wasn’t enough the Warriors managed to upset the Melbourne Storm in Melbourne. In short they achieved something that no other team has done: beat the number one seed as the number eight seed. Even if it was almost ballsed-up by a moment of madness by Michael Witt. Suddenly the Warriors are a hot ticket, while the Storm has to go through the repechage (in the bizarre finals system of the NRL). Moreover the Warriors get to play at home while the Storm have to play Brisbane in Suncorp.
Over to the Paralympics where strange happenings are afoot. The British and the Australians are, as always, not getting along. At the medal ceremony for the women’s discus Australian Amanda Fraser refused to congratulate her British opponent because of her eligibility status. The Brit was reassessed and had her medal stripped. But controversy didn’t end (or begin there). Prior to the non-handshake and dismissal there was chaos on the track where an incorrect lane assignment helped Brit David Weir snatch gold away from Aussie Kurt Fearnley in the men’s 800m wheelchair race.
Then in the pool New Zealander Sophie Pascoe broke the world 100m women’s backstroke record in the heats and then broke it again in the final where she came first equal with South Africa's Shireen Sapiro. Did you think what I did? How the heck was there a dead heat?
When Phelps and the Serb were too close to call the Omega people were able to give the time to 0.00001s. Are the Paralympics only measured in tenths of a second? Does this allow for more heart-warming stories and pictures like this? I think there’s a whole extra post in this.
Finally if you’re the type of person who likes participating in sport, smack-talk, drinking, and crazy rules then you might enjoy the Wellingtonista Bowling League. Best bring your A game (or at least your B+ game) because these cats throw rocks.