23 Oct 2011

New Zealand scrape to the title that they were promised

Nobody would have bet much on France winning this Rugby World Cup final. In fact they were very lucky to get that far in the competition (the odds for this final game were 7-1 against them). But their performance in today's decisive game (8-7 for New Zealand, in what was by far the lowest scoring final of all seven Rugby World cups so far) was quite remarkable, and I say that despite not being a French supporter.

France fought every part of the game and every inch of the field in what was a sterling battle that showed all the qualities of combat, sacrifice and solidaridity that fill the often over-emphatic prose of rugby coaches and sports writers.

The All Blacks won, but only just. They could have won by a higher margin has they not lost their goal-kicker and playmaster, Dan Carter. But then that is the law of this kind of team game: the issue cannot just depend on just one player. New Zealand were out and out favourites for this contest, playing at home and, it has to be said, with a refereree who was, to put it mildly, often quite lenient with them in some criticial phases of the game. Yet nobody can possibly contest their victory. They have totally merited becoming the current world champions, not only on account of their overall perfomances during this competition, but indeed over the sum of their games in the past ten or more years in international games of all kinds

The All Blacks just had to win at home, but my goodness they had to fight hard to make the final slot and take the little gold cup. All credit to the French team for their performance and for making this a fantastic game of rugby that moved me deeply. I had thought, along with many, that France would lose by 20 or 30 ponts. Not at all, and so much the better for rugby, as this game has shown, once again, that every team has its chance if it has willpower and a certain level of skills (the latter being a a given at this level). All the players on the field today can be entirely proud of their performance, and this game has probably left its mark on many, and not just on the wounded of the day. It is also very good news for rugby, even if there were not 10 "hoorah" tries in the game.

(And all shame on the pathetic New Zealand gutter press for their miserable perfomance over recent weeks! They can join their English equivalants in whatever abject hole anyone cares to dig for them).