Monday, October 15, 2007

What went wrong

I'm aware, of course, that the sense of the word "wrong" in my title depends on whether you were supporting the Wallabies, the All Blacks, the French, etc. I might add that there's even a subtle way of the interpreting this word in the case of observers who are concerned about the future of international rugby in general, as a great game. In any case, over the last weekend, France has witnesed the sudden birth of a vast new generation of rugby wizards, commentators, expert journalists, would-be team managers, coaches, etc. I never imagined that there were so many rugby specialists in France. And here I am, me too, about to jump up onto this bandwagon...

Many French people seem to agree on the following three things:

— It's a pity (whatever that means) that a tired French team, still getting over its combat with New Zealand, got kicked out on Saturday by the English.

— It was not only unexpected, but illogical too, that great teams such as New Zealand and Australia, accustomed to spectacular offensive play, should be bludgeoned out of the competition, at a surprisingly early stage, by the defensive strategies of the Old World.

— It would be good (whatever that means) if South Africa were to emerge as the victorious nation.

The consensus opinion here seems to be that future rugby should be played ideally in much the same way that the Southern Hemisphere is currently doing so, but that teams such as the All Blacks and the Wallabies must invent methods and strategies, urgently, to handle situations in which their uninspired opponents devote all their energy and resources to building brick walls across the field. It's a bit like boxing, where three ingredients are required in every recipe for success:
(a) You need to attack.
(b) You need to be able to defend yourself.
(c) Last but not least, you need to have tricks up your sleeve to know how to deal with an opponent who insists upon doing little more than constantly defending himself.

Put in those elementary terms, rugby sounds almost as if it were nothing more than a mere game.

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