Rugby, New Zealand, and a civilised sense of perspective

A bunch of blokes tossing around a ball in an impromptu game of touch; a few people resting on the edges of Chaffers Park, reading and picnicking, while behind a jazz band played in the produce market. Over towards Te Papa, the fruit & veggie market was in full swing, albeit a bit quieter than it is usually at this point on a Sunday.

A long weekend, with some folChaffers Civiisationk away; plus a few more regulars grabbing some extra zeds after getting up early to watch the All Black vs. Springbok semi, all played their part, I suspect.

The general atmosphere is one of a chilled out, civilised and relaxed Kiwi Sunday.

I’d like to think the scene this morning – and, more importantly, the general mood around it – would have been the same if the ABs had lost.

Perspective is all.

Edge of the seat stuff while the game is on – and today’s game was a traditional All Black-South Africa match in that it was incredibly intense, quite scraggly in bits, and not all that pretty at times.

Oh, and we’re bitching about the reffing.

The more the ruck ball rules changes, the more things stay the same.

The French should come up with a saying about that, though perhaps it should be rendered partly in Afrikaan & partly in Welsh.

New Zealand is into the final, against the Pumas or – more likely – the Wallabies – but I hope that whatever the result next weekend, we’ll take it in our stride.

British author Kingsley Amis used to rekkin a bad book review might ruin hs breakfast but he wouldn’t allow it to ruin his lunch.

It’s a good rule which I think we should apply to All Black losses – even if I don’t quite believe Amis took his own advice (oh, and one of the reasons he might not have allowed it to upset his midday meal was his lunch was generally of the alcoholic variety).

But it’s the principle of the thing.

Win or lose next week, New Zealand will still be the relaxed, civilised country we can, at our best, be.

 

 

 

 

Ferry from Massey Memorial

Rugby World Cup: NZL 62, FRA 13 

So , things went reasonably well in the quarter final against France after all. 

But we would not be New Zild if we were not already fretting about the semi final* against the ‘Boks next weekend. 

 
I once met an English bloke who had played for the Poms’ schoolboy rugby team against their NZ counterparts. The English schoolboys were coached by a former Lion and Welsh rugby forward.

Giving the lads the benefit of his experience, he instructed them New Zealand teams are not motivated by a desire to win.

They are driven, overwelmingly, by a fear of losing. 

This conversation took place in early 1999. Reviewing the ABs results of the previous season , I suggested it was a fear which seemed to have been been, regrettably, overcome. 

Joking aside: the focus now will be on the Ancient Enemy: the Springboks. Who, of course, appear to have got over any fear they mght have of losing by spectacularly coming a gutser against Japan. 

Rugby World Cups are meant to operate like this. The idea is they will raise the standard of less-well-performing rugby nations – espeically, it has to be said, those with the money to hire expertise from the more well performing rugby nations. 

We can see that, too, in the  strong likelihood Argentina will be in the other semi-final. 

Anyway, this morning’s result is not too foul. I rekkin we can feel a bit chuffed about it, without, of course, going berserk or anything.   
*There are people on the Twitter joking about the way we call semi finals ‘semis’ as though it is some rude thing. It probably is, but I’m not going to look it up. 

For the English Rugby Team…. #RWC2015

 

I think there’s only one appropriate song for the English Rugby team after the 33-13 loss to the Aussies and its this.

So far as I know its the only rock song to mention rugby** specifically, and the lines

 Back in the scrum

On a wet afternoon

Down in the mud

Dreaming of flowers in June…

…seem very right for today.

From the Kinks, mid-1960s. A fairly obscure, if rather lovely, album track. Apparently Ray Davies wrote this the same time he wrote the hit ‘Sunny Afternoon’ – after a complete mental crack up when he’d shoved his money in his sock, run down Denmark Street in London  and tried to assault his manager, which strikes me as a marvellously Goon-ish way to behave.

 

**UPDATE: Keir Leslie has pointed out to me, on Twitter, there’s also the Jam’s ‘Eton Rifles’. Can’t believe I’d forgotten that one – much more my era than this one, and besides, I’ve only recently bought the remastered ‘Setting Sons’.