The Consensus vote is in….. NZ Rugby fans are OK with ‘that’ result from The Rugby Championship clash last Saturday night. OK because, it is 12 months out from the RWC – and it did not occur during the knockout tournament.
Do not get me wrong, it is not saying that New Zealand (NZ) rugby fans accept it would occur. Not many will admit that but, on this occasion; against this opposition, and the manner in which that team competed right up until the final whistle – the majority are OK with the outcome [if it helps in the long-term].
The Rugby World Cup (RWC) is the pinnacle for any rugby side. No doubting that of course for New Zealand. and while a loss can place – in the words of Steve Hansen, a stone under the towel. But, it could be a blessing in disguise.
Or at least, that is the consensus vote from NZ rugby fans this week.
Consensus vote; NZ Rugby fans OK with ‘that’ result
Monitoring the reports, opinions, and speculation, Last Word on Rugby has seen an unfamiliar acceptance. This comes due to the fact that All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen has always announced that ‘we cannot win them all’. And this week, the reaction has accepted that notion.
A consensus because of, what all the NZ rugby media and fan reaction have shown, is their reaction in the days since ‘that’ surprise 34-36 loss against the Springboks is one of reluctant acceptance. A reaction that has not; in the eyes of those looking from the outside, as severe as one might have presumed.
It was a dark Sunday, but not a Black Sunday. Not close to the national disgrace of 2007, or the disbelief of 2003 – like Brisbane in 2017 or Sydney in 2015, it appears that many have been more prepared then a generation earlier (might have) reacted.
Views from the Northern Hemisphere were a mix of jubilation – the English media, in particular, saying that the ENGvNZL fixture in November has had a fresh breath of life pumped into it.
In his Monday column, @dallaglio8 says England should look to South Africa's brutal clear-outs and counter-rucking vs the All Blacks for an example of the intensity needed at the breakdownhttps://t.co/lAO0khIg4n
— Times Sport (@TimesSport) September 17, 2018
Yet across the Tasman, they see it as a sense that Australian rugby is still under pressure; losing both Bledisloe Cup tests [out of the three-match series].
Between sports media outlets and fan’s opinions here, it seems that a general acceptance has been that ‘it is better that it occurs now’. Like that, a loss to a side with the credibility of South Africa is more than acceptable. That is, due to the scoreline – as well as the historical provenance between the two sides.
Acceptance that Springboks are still a force in World Rugby
The record between the two sides is full of outcomes where a team has surprised the other. A first test result from a series; as when the All Blacks traveled to the Republic multiple times prior to 1996, where the hosts were more likely to defeat the All Blacks. A series win in 1996 was a final hurdle, and the recent record is weighed heavily in favour of NZ Rugby.
But the loss last week wasn’t expected. And counter to that, the reaction is one which is surprising – and shows the maturity of NZ rugby fans.
Is this is because fans are ignorant to accept the outcome? No. Reluctant to believe that any team could defeat the famed All Blacks? No. What most find is that, it was going to happen and that a team like South Africa, were probably the side to achieve it.
In a week, the all blacks have gone from unbeatable, to a team who at times, could lose a test.
Accepting because it can be seen from several viewpoints. It may be a positive. A somewhat positive one, in terms of that many, can see that ‘if it happens now, it might not occur in 12 months time’.
NZ Rugby fans still need to stay Confident
The drop goal option was on. The All Blacks management; who include two former first-fives, will have all reacted as the fans did. “Why didn’t you consider the drop kick?”
However, in the context of the long-term goal, NZ rugby fans and supporters are still confident. The team averages over 30 points per game, scores more tries and in aggregate, are the best defensive side over recent times. Allowing five tries to be scored against you; three from Argentina is the area that must be plugged.
Heads hung low immediately after the match. The next day would have been hard, but Gilbert Enoka and the management team would have worked hard to lift spirits.
The side now sits in limbo now, until they travel to Buenos Aires. They have a chance to secure another Rugby Championship title if they can hold the six-point advantage over South Africa.
However, any loss between now and November 3, will further deplete the confidence of their stakeholders. Not to sound negative but, Argentina is due a single win over the All Blacks. So it is a period of uncertainty – a time that this team have little experience dealing with.
Similar to what Steve Hansen has voiced; that team is ‘due a win’. It’s almost the law of averages. If you have a 90% winning ratio, then over a period of test, a loss is due. If ‘that’ loss was the Springboks 32-34 victory, then the odds are in the favour of NZ rugby.
Although, as any fan knows, rugby is not played in percentages. Just look at the huge statistical advantage that the All Blacks held, meant little if the defensive attitude is not there. Argentina will want to put out a strong performance at home [as they did against the Springboks] and a week later, the All Blacks will again be tested.
How New Zealand react to loss, will determine short-term rugby goals
What the loss now does to the All Blacks aura, is mean that it could occur when nobody has foretold it. Even the South African media and supporters, held little hope of a win last week. The surprise was evident across the board. As the surprise was in New Zealand. If it awakens the current World Champions, then it might be the benefit which some have broadcast – especially, considering the next series of games left in 2018.
Over the next ten weekends the All Blacks play seven tests – Argentina, South Africa, Australia, Japan, England, Ireland and Italy – all away. It’s business time.
— James Gemmell (@JamesGemmellTV) September 15, 2018
Nobody likes to lose. No NZ rugby fan will accept losses – especially when looking 12 months out until the RWC. One or more losses might still be accepted [as the All Blacks face England and Ireland on consecutive weekends]. But, they are still not acceptable…..the All Blacks are still ranked number one.
And for them; as much as for their fanbase, losses do not come that often. Heads up, keep calm, and carry on.
“Main photo credit”
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