This is the Phoney War: a period of waiting for action. The real stuff is happening behind the scenes, and the generals don’t want you to know their strengths, weaknesses and intentions. Quite right, too.
Many in the media – but not Ned, oh no – are scrambling for angles to fill the time and their editor’s space to disguise the fact that they are not on the inside.
John Mark Reason’s nonsense piece in this morning’s DomPost about Nigel Owen being unsuitable as the ref because Richie McCaw is too comfortable with him is Bottom of the Pops.
Not far behind is the sheer stupidity of Jamie Pandaram of Australia’s Fox Sports with his unfunny, unwitty and unsporting attack on Mr McCaw:
The Richetty grub, aka Richie McCaw, hails from Oamaru in New Zealand and is known for its dubious breakdown tactics, electrical tape around its large head and smug grin on its face.
Further up the rankings is a piece by Eli Orssezek for the NZ Herald, revealing that the Aussies won’t say “All Blacks”, preferring to refer to their opponents as “New Zealand”. It has the advantage of having some research and background, including the observation that Clive Woodward tried the same thing during the 2005 Lions series:
Woodward banned his management and players from referring to the opposition as “All Blacks”, insisting they be referred to as “New Zealand”. His theory was that the rugby world unwittingly empowers and mystifies the All Blacks by referring to them by their famous nickname.
The former England and Lions coach talked openly about the edict whereas the Wallabies seem to be keeping it secret.
But it’s not really a secret if you can see it happening. And it didn’t work for Woodward, and it is unlikely, in itself, to work for Cheika. It is like American politicians refusing to use the name of their opponents: dotty and addled.
BARTLET What's next? CAL The thing about saying the name. BARTLET I understand. JERRY If I could just reframe the point that Cal was making. BARTLET I understand the point that Cal was making. I was sitting next to him when he made it, my ears are connected to my brain just like everybody else. And I'm saying what's next? CAL Sir, not to put my head in the lion's mouth but by saying the name of your opponent in public you're essentially giving him free advertising. JERRY Cal thinks you should start referring to him as "my opponent" or "the other guy". CAL Sir. BARTLET You're not afraid he's gonna make me look like I can't remember his name? JERRY No. BARTLET I am. I think it's going to make me look like I can't remember his name. I think it's going to make me look addled. I think it's going to make me look dotty. And even if it didn't make me look like those things it would remain a stupid idea. What's next? Nothing? Excellent.
But spare a thought for the British press, with none of the home nations left in the tournament. The Wales Online website has been brought to talking about 2019 already. There’s a new logo, and everything. Wow.
Breathe people. Anxious needs plenty of oxygen.