- By Kevin McCarthy
The organisation I work with is sending a couple of people to over the Rugby World Cup in France later this year. Cue the jokes – no need to book anywhere past the quarterfinals then.
Black humour of course, or in this case All Black black humour. The classic get-in early defence mechanism for when and if the wheels come off.
It’s not exactly familiar territory for New Zealand fans, but the scars of the past two years and well, stone cold reality, suggests it will be on the money. The reasons are well known, even if you set aside the current team’s propensity to blow cold and hot in the space of a few games. That is, the fact the All Blacks, France, Ireland and South Africa all sit on the same side of the draw.
The All Blacks will either face South Africa or Ireland in the quarters. So, elimination is quite possible – or probable for the realist.
The other side of the draw is peppered with Australia, England, Argentina and Wales. Of course, if you’re England or Wales, even that looks daunting right now. And Japan sits in the mix as well.
Can’t argue with the fact that it’s shaping up as one of the most competitive world cups yet, something which everyone professes to want, unless they end up in the pools of death.
It is lopsided, based as it is on 2019 tournament results – and some good teams will exit early, and some mediocre ones go further than they might. It’s not hard to make the case for using world rankings, say two years out, as the basis for the seedings.
After all, why do teams need close to four years foreknowledge of the draw and where they will be based? Some, after all, are happily heading to France having yet to clean the bloodstains from the team bus of the recently axed head coach.
Still with subject of bookings, have you set aside a date in the calendar to be at the Cake Tin for the final of Super Rugby yet? No, I thought not.
Yes, the Canes are sitting second, with just one loss. But as pointed out earlier, that streak is built on beating teams the Canes should beat.
Last weekend a streak of a different sort threatened as the Force came storming back to within 3 on the high veldt of Palmerston North. Another bonus point left on the field.
Next up the Highlanders away and then the mega clash at home against the hot-running Chiefs. The trip to Otago shouldn’t be taken as a gimme by any means, but surely eyes and thoughts are turning to the following week’s showdown.
If anyone in the front pack is feeling comfortable they shouldn’t of course. Sitting at number 4 and ready to devour anyone who buttons off are the inexorable Crusaders.
Things may look very different two weekends from now. In the meantime, there’s chocolate to eat.