Friday, October 16, 2015

My World Cup 2015

Twelve months ago the Australian Rugby Team known as the Wallabies was in disarray.  The coach, Ewen McKenzie, had persuaded the ARU to hire Di Patson as a business manager.  He then made the cardinal sin of any manager, mixing his meat with his bread and butter.  He resigned but the team had split into NSW, ACT and Queensland camps.  The subsequent tour of Europe under the new  coach, Michael Cheika, was a disaster with Australia losing to Ireland, England and France.  So thinking that Australia would not graduate from the Pool of Death I only booked 3 of the 4 pool matches.

First match Australia vs Fiji 23 September 2015 at Millennium Stadium Cardiff. 
Australia beat a Fiji team that had played England 5 days earlier at Twickenham in a bruising encounter.  It was not really fair to Fiji but it was a good hit out for Australia even thought they did not get a bonus point.  The ground was packed (75,000) and when 65,000 started chanting "Fiji Fiji" and singing Swing Low Sweet Chariot (SLSC) we realised we were outnumbered.

There is no doubt that Millennium stadium is probably the best ground to go to an international match in the UK.  The ground is in the centre of the city.   The pubs are buzzing before the match and there are hundreds of restaurants to choose for a meal after the game.  Thankfully it was a 4.45 kickoff.

Second match Australia v England 3 October 2015 kick off 8pm at Twickenham. 
Following England’s unbelievable ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory the previous Saturday when after being on top for first 60 minutes they took off their best players and let injury depleted Wales stage the comeback of the year, the whole country knew it was do or die. 

The ground was packed 80,000 fans of which around 5,000 Australians were packed into 4 groups radiating out from the 4 corner posts.  When the crowd sang SLSC with unbelievable passion in the opening minutes all the Australian fans looked at each other with the same expression “We are rooted.”

The result of course the complete opposite with Australia playing its best game in years and extracting wonderful revenge for the 2007 loss to the English in the QF in Marseille.  The scrum instead of buckling pushed England around.  The inter-passing of Australian backs, particularly the second try was unbelievable.  I remember jumping out of my seat screaming to the crowd “This is rugby, this is rugby!!”

About 15 minutes from the end the English fans started streaming out to the accompaniment of the Australian fans waving and shouting “Bye Bye”.  Then at the end the Australian team did a lap of honour to an empty Stadium.  All the English fans had left.  Then there was the absolutely crazy moment where the reserve English lock was given man of the match.  Foley kicked 7 out of 7, scored 2 tries, threw the beautiful wide pass to set up the Giteau try and kicked for position beautifully. Afterwards drinking with the English fans they were besides themselves with embarrassment. The papers are still going on about the result.  I confess that it appears as if the English coach does not appear to have a long shelf life. 

Still you have to give to the English.  As Bill Bryson says the English are at their most content when they have a legitimate reason to bitch deeply and bitterly.  “A Briton standing in a minefield with a leg blown off who can say ‘I told you this would happen’ is actually a happy man.”   Ditto the English rugby fan.  They are the only RWC host country ever to be knocked out in the pool stage after spending over £5 million on a 12 week training camp.

Third match Australia vs Wales at Twickenham 10 October 2015 kickoff 4.45
The match was preceded by a very pleasant lunch at the Mayer residence in Twickenham.  Suitably lubricated my Welsh wife broke down crying when the Welsh national anthem was sung.  By now we were becoming used to being totally outnumbered and out sung.  Half of Wales must have travelled to Twickenham for the day.  We then watched what has been described as the greatest tryless match in the history of the RWC.  It was a great defensive effort by Australia but really when you are two men up you run for the corner posts.  You do not keep cutting back inside.  Australia did not actually win the match but the Welsh lost it.  And when the Welsh scrum half was made Man of the match you knew the selection had become a joke.  (The selection of man of the match was being done via twitter.  After these two results the experiment of using Twitter was abandoned.)

Interesting Rugby fact
The first time a national anthem was sung at an international rugby match was 16 December 1905.   It was during the tour of the original All Blacks who had swept all before them.  Meanwhile the Welsh had won the 4 nations and were the strongest team in Europe. The match was billed as the game of the century.  Over 50,000 fans were at the match.
To counter the Hakka the Welsh team decided to follow it by singing their National Anthem “Land of our Fathers.”  Suddenly the whole crowd joined in.  The NZ captain subsequently said it was the most amazing experience in his life.

It worked the Welsh won 3-0 in a particularly contentious match inflicting the only defeat on the All Blacks in their first tour.

In summary you have to hand  to Michael Cheika who has done an outstanding job.

Chris Golis Australia's expert on practical emotional intelligence website: Linkedin: Email: mobile: +61-418-222219

No comments:

Post a Comment