Message For The All Blacks
by Paul Waite
7 Oct 2007
This is directed at the All Blacks – I hope it finds its way to some of you guys at least. It’s actually a hard one to write, because it’s impossible to feel what somebody else is feeling. The only guide is that we fans stuck here back home are probably feeling a vestige of the same thing.
This defeat in the quarter-finals at the hands of the French is being compared with the semi-final defeat in 1999 at Twickenham by some. The two are, in my view, not at all similar except for the result. To be blunt about it, in 1999 the better team on the day won the test, today it did not. I know that’s of no comfort to you all at this point, but there it is.
Nothing written about this quarter-final test in Cardiff will be able to avoid mentioning the mistakes the referee made, and the effect they had. Let’s be quite clear, the referee determined the result of this test or if not, at very least had a massive, inappropriate influence on it. The sin-binning of Luke McAllister was a blight on the game, and was the turning point.
Faced with the rising French tide you gutsed out a great try for Rodney So’oialo to regain the lead, only to see it snatched away by yet more refereeing incompetence as a blatantly forward pass was thrown to create the winning French try, and missed by the officials of the day.
We then saw a titanic struggle against ever mounting odds as the referee allowed the French to plunder the ruck and come around offside almost at will, without penalty. When an advantage was being played, Luke had a shot with a snap droppie, only to discover the referee had abruptly decided that the advantage was over, when a 3-pointer could have won the test.
Watching it all unfold in that second half was like the stuff of nightmares. It had a curious and horrible momentum to it, like a huge boulder rolling downhill that is so massive as to be unstoppable. Some tests are just impossible to win. The playing field isn’t level, the odds stacked in some way. This was one of those.
Nobody likes to blame a referee for a loss. It goes against the grain, and I know that most if not all of you will refuse to do that. Luckily I don’t have to worry about the predictable accusations of ‘sour grapes’ – I don’t give a stuff; I just tell it how I see it.
I saw what happened out there today, and I have to tell you all that I was proud to be a New Zealander and an All Blacks supporter.
I think once you all get home and maybe have time to digest all the opinion and look at the test (if you can bring yourselves to) you will recognise the truth when I say that the better team on the day lost this one.
There are requests coming out of the camp from Steve Hansen asking for New Zealanders not to be too hard on the boys and that they are hurting 10,000 times worse than we fans.
Personally I reckon 10,000 times is an understatement. Richie, tell your boys not to worry on that score. I believe that, like me, every true AB fan recognizes what happened out there at Millenium Stadium today, and the only regret is that such a great team has been denied the chance to build through the semi-final to a peak in the World Cup final, as should have been.
We know you guys (and this includes you Graham, Steve and Wayne, BJ, plus all the support staff) put it all on the line out there, and the players today left everything out on that pitch. There wasn’t anything else you could have done. So reflect on that, come home and be welcomed back. Take the experience and use it to forge what’s done in the future, and don’t destroy parts of yourselves with the negative.
Time to come home, knock the rust off the barbie and think about summer.
Kia kaha from everyone here at Haka!