Hayden Meikle, the Otago Daily Times’ rugby correspondent, will have to eat some serious humble pie: just three days ago he was scathing about the french rugby team and their chances to play the demi-god like revered All Blacks. In an opinion piece dripping with confidence he shared his belief that the quarter final joust against France was just another walk-over. I don’t know whether Kiwiana’s finest shared that belief, but everyone certainly must now be back on the bleary grounds of reality. After the 20:18 loss against a fiercely defending french team the dreams of this nation have been squandered and it just again proves that the All Blacks play excellent rugby outside the world cup, but when the chips were down and the intensity of the tournament atmosphere combined with the hopes of four million rugby nuts are on their shoulders, this bunch of actually rather pleasant men fumbled.
The consequences for this tiny nation somewhere in the South Pacific will be stark: tomorrow everybody will wake up with a significant hangover, the government will ask itsself how much bad luck they will be able to take 12 months before the elections, the All Black sponsors will get out the red marker pen and write off their losses and fifteen men will have to face the shame of being the first team kicked out of the Rugby World Cup in the quarter finals.
On the other hand, employers will get their staff back refreshed after a good night sleep due to an acute reduction of overnight rugby watching, the front pages of the nation’s newspapers will be free again for international news and coffee break chats can finally focus again on lambing.
There’s always the soccer world cup in 2010: maybe the Kiwis can qualify for that for a change.
And if it all goes wrong, we always have softball, rowing and netball. Sports we can all identify with.