The All Blacks lost. Yes, it is unthinkable. But yes, it has happened. France beat us. Horribly. And no its not over. We have to play again. Against the Springboks. For third place! So yes, in short, it is awful.
Rod and Rachel who attended the game will not be pleased – and I don’t think the result will have a positive impact on their relationship.
The PM Jenny Shipley too will not be pleased – though she will be relieved she had the foresight not to hold the election on November 6th as some had suggested.
Scoop has the final observations to make on this mornings loss:
1. Firstly and most importantly …. RUGBY IS ONLY A GAME. And though this loss will probably ruin much of the rest of the week for many Kiwis – and lead to record levels of absenteeism today – time heals all wounds. And remember, there is another chance to win the World Cup in 2003.
2. Secondly Jonah Lomu scored the most amazing try of his career this morning so it wasn’t all bad.
Scoop’s advice to those considering watching a replay of the game is to watch the first 20 minutes – till Jonah’s first try and then stop. In the try Jonah stands surrounded by blue jerseys on the line seeming batting them away like flies before launching over the line. It is tres, tres, impressive.
After viewing this try Scoop seriously advises watching no more. The rest is too painful. Jeff Wilson had an appalling game. Magic turned to mumble. Cullen was shut down everytime he tried to go through the line. The ball bounced badly. In short everything went wrong.
3. Thirdly the referee Jim Fleming is a right royal….
Scoop thought the way this same ref officiated the game in Sydney the All Blacks lost was odd (see... Scottish Ref A Serious Threat To Cup Hopes.)
This morning he repeated the performance. In the first half he awarded 13 penalties against France to 1 against New Zealand. In the second he appeared to try to redress the balance. In part the high count in the first half was because the French were cheating it was probably also because the All Blacks were trying very hard not to infringe – knowing Jim’s ways – having learnt by fire.
Unfortunately it doesn’t make any difference to Jim.
Fleming is more conductor than referee and his subversion of rugby union is particularly insidious because he has the smarts to try and balance his penalty count by the end of the game, so he cannot be accused of bias. In the meantime however he has already succeeded in subtly undermining the confidence and psyche’s of the players.
4. Fourthly, several of the French players are revolting.
Josh Kronfeld was clearly and deliberately eye-gouged. Later an All Black - I think Byron Kelleher - had something unmentionable slobbered in his ear by a very large French prop with a tongue problem - who then turned out to be actually a family-man, carrying his little girl around after the game. For a period the ear-job given by the French prop was thought to be an ear biting – but apparently wasn’t according to sources in the All Black camp reported on TV.
And course the All Blacks played very poorly – proving that they too can have a bad day.
And the bottom line? The French played a blinder. Vive La France.