There are two words that keep sticking in my mind when I think about Sunday’s final between the All Blacks and France: Over-confidence on the one hand, and pride on the other. France may still pretend to have that aura of unpredictability, but that is all it is, a perception that they will not deny, because it works for them. They are a tough as nails crowd who play a hard game of rugby. Watching the match against Wales again, you could see them doing what was necessary at the rucks and mauls, but no more. The French side on Sunday will be fuelled by pride, and a proud Frenchman will not be a pushover.
The All Blacks, and anyone else who thinks he has a soap box, is proclaiming victory for the men from NZ, and it is hard to find a convincing reason to differ from them.
What did the NZ media have to say?
“This is our time!” & “Graham Henry and the players would never admit it, but the All Blacks already have one hand and four fingers on the World Cup.” Dominion Post
“Yes we can and yes we did — in style.” & “The All Blacks will confront a flawed French side in the final this Sunday — the perfect opportunity to erase ghosts of the past, and lift the World Cup for the first time in 24 years,” New Zealand Herald
If for no other reason, then simply because of the quality of rugby they dished up, I truly believe that the All Blacks deserve RWC 2011. In the absence of the Springboks, that is.
The difference between deserving and earning the cup was the main reason why the All Blacks have not been successful since 1987. Oh, and France, on two occasions, when the the Kiwis also appeared to be unbeatable.
They say they are aware of this, but do they really believe it? Sunday will tell.
It is my fervent wish that the final will be of such a nature that the tournament as a whole will be remembered for the rugby, and not the referee blunders. Craig Joubert is the ideal person to make sure this happens.
The French impressed a lot of people, including locals with the diplomatic way in which they announced why they would be playing in white; as a “sign of respect” for the friendly welcome of the host nation and the excellent way the tournament is organised. This should ensure a far warmer welcome than the Aussies received.
And while I do not subscribe to conspiracy theories and match-fixing myths, this smooth manoeuvre just caused a slight tremor of doubt in my firm belief that this French side is weak. Could this be a smoke-screen?
No, most unlikely, but with the French, who knows?
Like the scene where my favourite French movie character, Inspector Jacques Clouseau reports back to his boss about an explosion in apartment:
“What kind of bomb was it?”
“The exploding kind.”
Ou Manie sit sy geld op die All Blacks. Hy glo die span wat die hongerste is, sal wen, maar vertrou niemand wat so honger kan raak dat hulle paddaboudjies eet nie.