Shhh! Just between you and me, Ned’s on a secret mission to the northern hemisphere. I’m not saying that Shag is involved, but let’s just say that it involves secret caches of Maketu Pies behind enemy lines. To cover my undercover moments, I’ve selected a few choice moments from the Road To Redemption.
Originally published 1 October 2010
Googling “All Blacks biggest chokers” gets 5,270 results, thanks to a column by British journalist Patrick Kidd on Times Online.
So Kidd includes two All Blacks teams in the Top 40 chokers: the 2007 team at Number 20, and the 1999 team at Number 1.
Great. Excellent. Thanks very much.
And I know many of us will be tempted to respond with a touch of the old Kevin Skinner. Because quite obviously it’s a totally subjective list, which means it’s wide open to ridicule and dismissal. Why on earth the 2010 English football team appears anywhere on the list, for example, is beyond me, because it implies they ever had a chance in South Africa. And only a British sports writer could ever have taken Frank Bruno (ranked 34th) even half-seriously.
But here’s the thing: he’s not wrong about the All Blacks.
There’s a Shakespearean quality to their failures at the last five World Cups: the gap between the promise and the result is dramatic tragedy of the highest order. It is stories of kings brought low by their own faults, of hubris and jealousy and greed, of family division, and wobbling indecision, and witchly warnings ignored.
Only a team of the highest quality, such as the All Blacks, that has failed to deliver the highest honours, such as the All Blacks, could be laden with such an unwanted title.
Make no mistake: this is the first salvo in the Story War of the 2011 Rugby World Cup. This is the advance guard of the Euro-Orcs, probing our defences for tender spots, making a feint to study our response.
So I say that we have to take this one full in the face and not blink. Not argue, not disagree, not moan or whinge or whimper or excuse or compare or bloody anything except take it. Suck it up and suck it in, and eat these taunts as the food for our ferocious revenge.