482. That’s Enough Relaxing: Back To Anxious

Yes, the All Blacks played magnificently, even if France were often awful.

And yes, the Springboks were largely underwhelming in beating a cruelly injured Wales.

But that was last week, and this is this week, and ne’er the twain shall meet.

The two teams know each other so well – coaches, players, management – that there will be no opportunity for ambush. The Super XV and Rugby Championship mean that they have seen, experienced and analysed each others strengths and weaknesses to oblivion and back.

Guess what? The Springboks will be ferociously tough up front in the set pieces, the contact area, and the driving mauls. Forget age and injury and strains and pains, they will turn up in a way that the French didn’t.

And in Handre Pollard they have a goal kicker of supreme talent and poise. Any penalty in our half is their three points. And he can drop kick too.

Schalk Burger might be past his best, but his best was very very good indeed, and he’s not gone that far further down the road. A gladiator in the best sense: brave, strong, smart, committed. Vermeulen and Habana are all class, de Allende and Kriel an emerging combination willing to challenge C. Smith and M. Nonu.

On paper the All Blacks might be favoured if …

So many ifs.

Poise for a start. That immeasurable mental edge that slides hither and yon.

Injuries, in training or early in the match.

The weather: the last ten minutes of Australia-Scotland saw the first autumnal edge of this tournament. Another deluge like that will make a running passing game much harder to execute, and take the ball back into a tight five grapple.

Hands. The ball stuck miraculously on Sunday morning, and probably won’t to the same extent this week. How do they handle those disappointments, put them away, look forwards?

The ref, the crowd, the surface, the ball, the TMO, Suzie, a stray arm or boot or ugly aerial challenge that brings a yellow: all can play a part in a close contest.

A done deal? Absolutely not.

And our job – yours, mine, your neighbours, your friends, your colleagues and customers, strangers in the street, Facebook acquaintances, bloody everybody – is to take all the anxious of the karma of the rugby universe on to our scrawny shoulders. To hold it, cherish it, nourish it these next few days, so that Shag and the lads can find their happy place without the burden.

Get anxious people.

About Ned Davy

By hokey, the big fella’s tipped into his 50s. A rangy loose forward in his prime, good with the ball in hand, but rarely up with the play any more.
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One Response to 482. That’s Enough Relaxing: Back To Anxious

  1. Gill says:

    Here’s my anxious…IOU Snax ! Getta beer, have a cracker !

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