By Lee Stace

IT HAS been brilliant to see Auckland – and the rest of New Zealand, for that matter – gripped by Rugby World Cup fever.

But this scribe has one lingering thought: will it last should, heaven forbid, the All Blacks once again cho… I mean, fail to do the business at rugby’s big old song and dance?

We are being great hosts at the moment. There is no doubt about that. Driving around Auckland, it has been an absolute joy to see flags flying high and fans cramming into the airport to welcome some of our international rugby cousins who are vying for the biggest prize in the game.

Friendly and welcoming, we are giving tourists the true Kiwi experience at the moment. For that, we need to give ourselves a big pat on the back.

But what if – and when I say this, I’m being a realist not a negative nelly – the All Blacks lose? It could happen. History has shown that our national team has a habit of coming unstuck at the big one.

Hopefully (touch wood, pray to Jesus, Allah or some higher spiritual power, people) it doesn’t happen and Richie McCaw is the first player to get his paws on ‘Bill’ when the referee signals no-side on October 23 at Eden Park.

If it does go wrong, however, then it’s scary to think how New Zealanders will react. Right now, most people cannot get enough of the RWC, but the Men in Black losing in the quarter-finals or in the semis could change that.

For you see, we have a tendency of reacting badly when things don’t go to plan at the RWC.

You only need to look at the fallout following Cardiff in 2007 for proof. The way some of us behaved following that 20-18 loss to France was, quite frankly, disgraceful. Rather than stay on and enjoy the rest of the tournament, a large number of New Zealanders who were in that part of the world at the time began offloading their semifinal and finals tickets.

Disappointing stuff. It really was.

Regardless of what happens on the field this time around, it is important that we remain gracious in victory and, should it occur, defeat as well. Packing a sad will only give the 95,000 tourists who are expected to grace our shores over the next six and a half weeks a bad impression of New Zealand and the people who live here.

From what Yours Truly has witnessed so far, we’re on the right track. Hopefully we as a nation have grown up and we do the RWC justice.

Posted Comments

Hats off to whoever wrote this up and posted it.
Ross Allan
Being Aussie, I'll probably be abused left, right and centre for this but this is the first overseas RWC I've missed since 1991. I just couldn't bring myself to travel to NZ for it - generally the attitude of NZ supporters (win or lose) makes it thoroughly unenjoyable. I love NZ & its people, having visited 100+ times but they change when rugby is involved. I know many others who normally tour, who've declined this time. Yes, it is time to grow up. The game's to be enjoyed, not to be tortured about. Good luck and I sincerely mean that.
Jeff Jones
If I had tickets to the 2007 final I think I would've offloaded them as well. No shame in that. You fork out your hard-earned to watch the All Blacks, so when you find they didn't make it, you don't go. Why not give/sell them to someone who wants to be there. Bit harsh saying it's a disgraceful act. What was a disgrace was the way the teams played the game. Was probably the best decision anyway not to go, money would've still been spent in the local economy as airlines are reluctant to change flight bookings.
I agree, we as a nation have to pull our heads in if we don't win the cup. Especially as we have WC tourists and the world watching. We are a very passionate country when it comes to rugby- that is our strength and our weakness. If we lose, we have to vent our collective frustration/anger- IT SHOWS WE CARE! I am quietly confident we can do it. All the other top nations had an indifferent start to the tournament too. Let's not get all doom and gloom just yet! GO THE ALL BLACKS!!!!!!!!!
Robert Falconer
You never know what will happen in a knock-out scenario. The All Blacks are the best team on the planet for the last few years, but unfortunately there is no "comments" column after the game. Win or lose I'm sure it will create many a good discussion at the pub for the next 4 years. Just vwatched the Bokke beat Wales by 1....really feel for Wales, but a win is a win. Good luck!
this is definately a huge test for the ABs and i believe they WILL give it their best. I hope that the people see that. the comment before about being beaten by a better team and not a bad ref is dead right. All the boys can do is give it 110% and play smart footy and we will i believe win and win it well. But, rugby will die in the arse if the webb ellis goes to another rugby nation.
Stephen Yetman
The real test of New Zealand will be if the All Blacks get knocked out of the RWC early. We already have some sports editors getting in to Graham Henry because they won't let go that Robbie Deans didn't get the coaching job after the 2007 RWC. And all the negativity on some of the blogging sites, I'm worried how some Kiwis will react in defeat or victory. A lot of these armchair critics think they are so right. I just hope if we are defeated that we are beaten by a better team not poor referee decision(s).
What ball is played with this sport soccer.
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