Six tests in 2004, six wins, including two against the world champions, one each over Australia and South Africa, and the Bledisloe cup safely tucked away for another year – all is well in our rugby loving land, right?
No. With a week off while Australia and South Africa played, the debate has raged about the flat back line, and the potential disaster, pestilence and woe we face by persisting with it.
Blame France. A certain world cup semi final played out in 1999 changed rugby watching in New Zealand forever. We got carried away by the painted jet, the flash new Adidas kit, and the master stroke of including Lomu, Cullen, Wilson AND Umaga in the team at once… until ten minutes into the second half. No-one wants to be caught out like that again, so as a nation we prepare for potential soul crushing disappointment by watching the All Blacks like hawks, trying to detect weakness no matter what the results are.
If you’re confused by this, but would like to join in, try slipping these phases into your rugby debates:
1. “We need a few changes in that backline, that’s for bloody sure. Pack of girls”
2. “The Aussies are bloody good. Their backs will run all around us, it’ll be a cricket score if we’re not careful”
3. “Finally we get some mongrel in the pack, and the backs fall to bits – bloody hopeless”
4. “Carlos can’t tackle”
5. “Umaga can’t release his outsides”
6. “Marshall? Don’t even get me started”
7. “The sky is falling! The sky is falling!” etc etc etc
Now relax, and smugly start picking the next All Black coach. Helen is just lucky the election has fallen in between world cups this time.