Monday, 26 October 2009

Today marks two years to the day to the 2011 Rugby World Cup final at Eden Park.

The good news is, I can think of two reasons why we will win:

1/ Richie McCaw and Dan Carter. Alongside South African colossus Victor Matfield, they are most influential players in world rugby.

2/ Home ground advantage. There will be patriotic fervor, the likes of which we have not seen since the 1956 South African series. The All Blacks are notoriously difficult to beat at home.

The bad news is, I can think of 10 reasons why we won’t win:

1/ Richie McCaw and Dan Carter. Lose one, or both, to injury and we’re toast. Outside these two, with the possible exception of Tony Woodcock and Ali Williams, we don’t have genuine superstar players. Compare that to the All Black sides of 1987 and 1995, both of which oozed world-class.

2/ Graham Henry.

3/ Steve Hansen.

4/ Wayne Smith.

5/ The lineout. The only consistent thing about the lineout since the aforementioned three wise men took over in 2004 has been its inconsistency. It’s our Achilles heel, despite having had more-than-useful practitioners in the form of Ali Williams, Chris Jack and Keith Robinson. As much as I admire Andrew Hore for being a good old fashioned tight forward, he’s sadly wanting when it comes to, arguably, a hooker’s most important role.

6/ Robbie Deans. Don’t be fooled by the Wallabies poor recent showing in the Tri-Nations. The win over the Springboks in Brisbane was a taste of things to come. Rob’s Mob will be peaking by 2011.

7/ France. We have a history of losing to the Rainbow Warrior bombers at quarter and semi-final time. Plus we have a record of dropping one-off games to them at home. They could again, sink us without trace.

8/ The rules. The modern structured game nullifies a lot of our inherent Polynesian flair. Free running backs are being replaced by catchers, kickers and chasers. Field position and not giving away penalties in your own half are now, sadly, paramount.

9/ Timing. Historically we’ve made the final in the early season June World Cups (1987 and 1995). October World Cups (1991, 1999, 2003 and 2007) have been unmitigated disasters.

10/ Because I’m buying a ticket, at great expense, to the final! With my luck, I have a sickening feeling I could be watching Rocky Elsom hold aloft the WilliamWebb Ellis Trophy.


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