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Aisle be Back: The Rugby World Cup Final – the buildup

  • By Kevin McCarthy 

This would be world cup X I think, if we were following Superbowl convention. So, how’s your buildup been? This is mine.

X  minus 7 –  a very enjoyable England v Boks semi. I’m not taking the purist holier than thou stance that this was a disgrace. England went in with a highly predictable strategy, which South Africa bizarrely of all nations, could not find an answer to. It’s like the Boks suddenly realised Darth Vader was their dad. Anyway, England bottled it at the death when their light saber malfunctioned.

X minus 6 – it’s worth noting as All Blacks fans, we have one more recovery day than the Bokke. Use it wisely.  Everyone is busy burnishing the narrative around Fozzie. Redemption gets used about a million times I get flashbacks to watching Das Boot, where the U-boat engineer, having cracked under pressure, suddenly redeems himself. The guy behind me insists on explaining to his mate that He’s Redeeming Himself.  Indeed, he is.

X minus 5 – There seems to be further aligning around the redemption road. Those who doubted the plan, and its progression, will be shot after the final. You have been warned. Meanwhile, the Boks are having fun times explaining Mbonambi ’s choice of language to Mr Tom Curry. No-one thinks of the obvious defence, which that I was only telling the truth mi’lord.

X minus 4 – It’s the dream final! The two baddest dudes in world rugby. Cue 1995 reruns. But this is 2023 – Matt  Damon is no longer skipper. Morgan Freeman is sadly no longer with us, and the French won’t be flying a jumbo jet over Stade De Francais.

X minus 3 – Who knew Afrikaans was such a rich and varied language. Rassie likes making videos, and so one emerges where the Boks at their training run demonstrate their linguistic versatility. Lads! Does anyone know or care there’s a final on. The All Blacks stay mercifully low key, while World Rugby, as it is France, unleash Clouseau on the case of the slur. To quote: How Can a Blind Man be a Lookout.

X minus 2  – The All Blacks name their squad. The Springboks name their bench. 7-1. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Various pundits lock in their predictions. Predictably they side with their own countries. Useful. Time to check on Sunday morning plans. Venue: home. Menu:  fry-up but no heart unhealthy stuff (damn that bypass!). Spouse:  prewarned.

X minus 1 – Check the forecast. Can confirm the sun will come up. Actually, it will already be up at kick-off. World Cups aren’t what they used to be.

X –  Finally the nerves. You’ve done well to get here. Many said you wouldn’t make it. Prove them wrong


In all the moving parts of these two teams, if my life depended on it, this will be low scoring, with the key as to which side best defuses the other’s strengths. I suspect if the All Blacks can nullify the Bok rolling maul, that is a big part of the South African pressure game.

No Libbok, so no frailty there. But also, no unpredictability.

If the All Blacks get chances they will be few. If they execute as they did against Ireland they can do this. But they won’t survive a flood of cards again. And the Boks won’t survive a flood of injuries in the backs.

None of the previous recent encounters count for anything. Let’s see what happens, and then post-game, make sense of it. Have a good one!


Great to see the NPC final was graced with a beautiful day and played in the afternoon.

13-thousand fans crowded in a portion of the work in progress ground rebuild certainly bought the atmos and the two sides bought the action.

Made you hope there is still life in the old dog still.


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