There's a saying in French: Before you've actually shot the bear, don't try to sell its skin. We might reflect upon this wisdom in the rugby domain. Within the context of the rugby opposition between the Old World and the Southern Hemisphere, observers [including myself] were starting to believe that the latter were invincible.
— Almost everybody thought that England would be skinned by the Wallabies at Marseille this afternoon. It was a great match... for England, above all.
— As for this evening's confrontation in Cardiff between the French Blues and the New Zealand Blacks, everybody was convinced that France would be skinned. Instead, they won.
It's weird to see Australia and New Zealand eliminated from the Rugby World Cup in the space of a few hours. I often feel that the primordial difference between the Southern Hemisphere and the Old World—not only in rugby, but in other domains, as well—is that ancient nations such as England and France nurture silly old values of a mysterious nature that might be termed determination, perseverance and idealism... as opposed to the pragmatic criteria of the New World, based at times upon flashy opportunism. I'm aware that my hasty analysis of the situation is fuzzy and no doubt faulty. But we still need to explain how and why the illustrious and flamboyant Wallabies and All Blacks could get eliminated amazingly in a single day by the old-fashioned English Roses and French Roosters.
In any case, yesterday, we were all ready to sell a few European bear skins. Today, alas, we realize that the beasts in question have not in fact been shot and killed. On the contrary...