Saturday, October 31, 2015

New Zealand should use rugby power to advantage

No more All Blacks can't win the World Cup away from home, no more All Blacks choke at World Cups, no more Dan Carter is past it, no more Richie McCaw isn't the king of the breakdown.

No more Craig Joubert favoured New Zealand in the 2011 final, no more World Cup finals are never spectacular.

The 2015 Webb Ellis Cup final was a summation of everything the All Blacks stand for and what a superb demonstration of determination by coach Steve Hansen to show just how rugby can be played, even under the weight of the law book, when a team has a positive approach.

All the concern about what the Australians would bring at the breakdown was knocked for six the moment the ball was kicked off to start the game. Huge tackles knocked the stuffing out of Australia and while they scored two tries to come back, they lacked the composure that McCaw and Carter provided – one with his leadership the other with his control around the field.

It is the end of an era, one of the finest in the history of an historic side who carry their legacy not as a burden, but as an inspiration to greater deeds.

McCaw's endurance and consistency set an example that will be the standard for the next 100 years while Carter's efforts will have a statistical impact and his match management will be forever the measure of first five-eighths, who will have to have a high tackle quotient if they are to be fit for comparison.

Ma'a Nonu showed just why the All Blacks selectors stuck with him when others wanted him out. Conrad Smith, a superb touch in Nehe Milner-Skudder's try as a reminder of all that he brought to the game.

Keven Mealamu – a timely run in space with ball in hand as the All Blacks sought control in the final quarter and no doubt Tony Woodcock was heavily involved, along with Wyatt Crockett in the scrum build-up during the week.

So what of the future? Already there will be excitement about what players like Codie Taylor, Sam Cane, Malakai Fekitoa, Beauden Barrett, Aaron Cruden can bring to the All Blacks.

The British and Irish Lions loom in two years time. With such a core of experience moving on, we should recall what happened in 1998 when a similar body of players retired or went off-shore. It won't be easy, victory will not be as common, or as emphatic.

But that's all part of the enjoyment.

Just two parting thoughts, how ridiculous would it have been had Australia won and moved to No.1 in the world rankings? Given their record since 2011 they should have been nowhere near an All Blacks side who had lost only three Tests over the four years.

The rankings are a joke and are not reflective of the state of the world game.

And how much leverage does this effort give Hansen around the table when it comes to discussing the way the laws should be applied in the future? How good would it be to be a fly on the wall during that meeting?


Robert Messenger said...

Excellent piece, all very true. Well said!

Robert Messenger said...

Sadly, the decisive win has not stopped some of the stupid nonsense coming from so-called "fans" on this side of the Tasman. While the post-match TV summaries I have seen so far have been pretty fair and balanced, online some people are putting a big question mark over the notion that Australians still deserve their reputation for being "good sports".