intraspace: the review lounge

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

eyewitness accounts of a historic rugby loss

it's been ages since anything was posted on intraspace. but i think apologies for that kind of thing are a bit lame, so i won't bother.

instead, i've asked a couple of my uk-based mates to pass on their thoughts about the all blacks' loss to france in the quarter finals of the rugby world cup.

a few days ago, my aussie mate jonathan (jnxyz) and i compared notes about who australia and nz were meeting in the quarter finals and matter-of-factly decided that we would be playing each other in the semis. i did, however, call france our 'bogey team' as they have a history of upsetting the all blacks. and i recalled aaron saying that the english might possibly upset the aussies.

on sunday morning, before i left for church, i checked the internet and saw that the aussies had gone down to england. i was about to fire off a quick email to jonathan when i suddenly thought - better wait until after the all blacks game before i do that... probably just as well in hindsight.

anyway, here is a match report from john butterworth, who was at the game in cardiff:

I actually felt sorry for the Aussie supporters as I watched their team lose while I ate lunch in the Cardiff pub. I thought how crap they must be feeling as they sat in their seats in the stadium and I tried to imagine what it must be like. It's a good thing that's unlikely to happen to us....

Earlier, the streets were filled with black. It was about mid-day and there were kiwi's everywhere. There was a smattering of Red White and Blue but I wondered where the French foreign legions were? A bunch of Maoris crossed the road from Cardiff Castle in single file dressed in black complete with gumboots - Cardiff was was one big New Zealand icon. Suddenly the French arrived. Brightly clad and gloriously noisy, their good natured but fierce support was inspiring and they made friends everywhere.

The stadium roof was closed and French songs filled the arena. Occasionally the All Black chant went up - you know the one: "All Blacks" clap clap clap. Childish, and pathetically delivered, it was each time drowned out by a magnificent chorus of French singing that could have made a Welshman proud (but probably not quite). Insert all sporting adjectival cliches here:___________________. This was the atmosphere. This was the greatest rugby stadium in the world. The view of the pitch from one of the worst seats in the house (if there are any) was more than good. The noise in the stadium - deafening and the rivalry between supporters though very real was very fun. It promised to be a great night for the All Blacks to win. Bugger.

A fairly sound first half you would have to say - and we dared to think it was in the bag. The AB's looked sharp and in control (sort of). The half time break disappeared and we settled down to watch the All Blacks gradually extend the lead and put their foot on the throats of the hapless french. The ridiculously high prices we had paid on ebay would soon be distant memories and we would return to London that week to boast to our English colleagues of how we will take them apart in the semi's - no more All Black choking this time mate!

Sometimes you wonder what a coach said at half-time. This was one of those games where you wondered what both coaches said. We watched unsettled as the French went to fourth and then fifth while the AB's seemed intent on coming fourth or fifth - or worse! Surely we would sort it and come back - the nervousness on the pitch - the complete and sudden lack of faith in their ability would only last for a bit and then everything would be all right again - yeah?

5 minutes to go - camped inside the 22. Righto, well done boys - drop goal time. Left it quite late but you're in the right place now. Just center up a bit and throw it back's freaking there?!! Drop goal guys - it's gotta be a DROP GOAL !!!!!!....... Yeah but wait on - not now - hang on to it now!, don't do it now!, don't.....

I can hear the laughter of the French supporters around me as - I only hear 'cause I'm no longer looking, I'm just waiting for the roar after the ball will be inevitably kicked into touch.

Kiwi blokes are actually in tears. Most of us just sit and stare at nothing in particular. Another monumental mental collapse - a sporting mind meltdown of the highest degree. I guess we kind of expect it now - maybe this team does too.

Oh well, as they say, c'est la vie. Bollocks it is!

meanwhile, luke and patrick were watching the game on a big screen in london:

I watched it at a venue called The Grand, at Clapham Junction in London. It's an old theatre and has a screen that is 40 square metres in area. Fantastic picture and great atmosphere.

Up until the final loss of possession a win was still very much a possibility, so it was then that it hit. I just put my head in my hands for a while. Patrick starting kicking things. I then suggested we leave. We went to the pub over the road for a two-hour de-briefing.

Oh well. It's very hard to swallow and you kinda wish you didn't emotionally involve yourself in the All Blacks success or failure.

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