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The All Blacks have been pretty ordinary but now will win the World Cup

By Hamish Bidwell
Sam Cane of New Zealand leads his teammates as they leave the field whilst the players of Ireland give the players of New Zealand a guard of honour at full-time following the Rugby World Cup France 2023 Quarter Final match between Ireland and New Zealand at Stade de France on October 14, 2023 in Paris, France. (Photo by David Ramos - World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)

Who among us hasn’t written off the All Blacks over the last four years?

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Who hasn’t commented on the competence of the coaching staff or expressed reservations about the prowess of the players? Who hasn’t criticised our playing methods or the New Zealand pathway from schools, to provincial and Super Rugby?

Is there anyone who hasn’t suggested that the rest of the world isn’t playing a better, more effective brand of footy than us?

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And yet, in a few days’ time, the All Blacks are likely to be crowned Rugby World Cup champions.

I reckon it’s because we care that we criticise. I suspect that if we just worshipped the ground the team walks on, that they wouldn’t ever improve.

I’m not sure any of us honestly saw this day coming – particularly after the loss to South Africa at Twickenham and first-up pool stage defeat to France – but here we are.

The All Blacks have enjoyed a comparatively easy ride to get to this point, the Springboks have not and that’ll be telling come the final.

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I’m not sure South Africa can rouse themselves one last time and assume that New Zealand will have that extra bit of skill and talent to take advantage of what opportunities arise.

I still can’t quite believe this situation, but then we’ve been on the opposite end of it plenty of times before.

The knock on All Black teams between 1987 and 2011 was that they couldn’t front at the Rugby World Cup.

Sure, they were often exceptional between tournaments, but basically choked when it counted.

The team has done it a different way this time. I very much doubt that’s by design, but it doesn’t alter the outcome.

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I still retain reservations about the solidity of the All Blacks’ set pieces, I still reckon their loose trio is only adequate and that Richie Mo’unga is yet to fully command the world stage from first five-eighth.

I remain a Beauden Barrett enthusiast, but I accept many folk continue to argue Will Jordan would be a better bet at fullback. Others have reservations about Rieko Ioane’s suitability as a centre.

But, as I said before, here we are. On the brink of glory.

To me, this is the beauty of sport. It’s why, as they say in the classics, they play the games.

Betting odds are just that. Form is largely illusory. We buy our tickets and tune in to watch games partly because we can never be absolutely certain of the result.

As I wrote last week, I don’t believe a world cup win necessarily changes the narrative around these All Blacks. I think they have been pretty ordinary for years now and I can’t help but think that the success of this campaign owes more to good luck than good management.

Lord knows I’ll never be accused of being an All Blacks cheerleader, but I can’t see any other result in this final than a win to New Zealand by 10 to 12 points.

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Comments

112 Comments
C
Callie 257 days ago

Well well well…🙈

B
Bob Marler 257 days ago

“Lord knows I’ll never be accused of being an All Blacks cheerleader, but I can’t see any other result in this final than a win to New Zealand by 10 to 12 points”.

R
Riaan 265 days ago

JL what happened to:

This one is in the bag. Mortgage it and thank me later. Over by half time.”

unfortunately the only thing over by halftime was Cane’s world cup! Hope you followed your own advice and “Mortgage it”…..enjoy sleeping under the stars Boet!!😂

L
Lou Cifer 266 days ago

Can’t see any other result you said Hamish…hope you see it now. It was also you who said back in July that this was an old Springbok side nearer the end of their careers😉 Guess these oldies showed you a thing or two

T
Titus 269 days ago

This gotta be the most bait article I’ve ever seen. Or just another of Hamish’s jumping the gun takes.
This type of arrogance is hilarious even as an All Blacks fan myself

p
paul 269 days ago

its going to be a really interesting one. sa have gone a 7-1 bench. but then maybe we will see a late “injury” change pre-kickoff. won’t surprise me. i would. mind games.
wayne barnes will once again be the decider as he was all those years ago. he will decide nzs fate as both a fresh ref and as a retiring ref.
if we get more than 40 minutes of play or we go to extra time its nzs game. but if sa can force stoppages and drink breaks then its probably going to them. sa wins when there is very little time where ball is in play.
thankfully nz is the fresher team. if it had been the other way round, nz would not have been able to match up front. but maybe they will come saturday. 15 tired boks vs 13 fresh ab forwards. i’ll call that even. will 4 young props be heros.

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JL 269 days ago

I completely agree. The author nails it. The ABs are going to teach the Bokkies a lesson they will never forget. I look forward to inflicting generational trauma on the Bokkies and their supporters. All NZ pundits are predicting an easy win. AB by 20, at least! Ben Smith agrees and so do the bookies. This one is in the bag. Mortgage it and thank me later. Over by half time.

s
simon 269 days ago

I’m new in the rugbyworld. I’ve watched the latest WC and the 6 N over the past years. I love the importance of the role ‘respect’ plays in this beautifull sport, at least for what I can observe on tele on the field .. Up to now my dissappointment in this tournement is that for the first time (to my .. ) on a high level, a large part of the crowd, in casu the Irish supporters refused to show respect to the Haka by keeping silence, in the quarter f. Thus boosting up the tension and drive in the Blacks . I might sound naïve. No prob. Lack of respect and it’s consequences .. go see soccer/football.

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Liam 269 days ago

Likely? Its 50:50 at BEST. Rubbish article

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CO 269 days ago

Excellent article, basically summarizes exactly where many if not most longer term Allblack supporter's beliefs sit.

The big question mark remains, there is no question it’s an Allblacks side that's currently very dangerous, the most dangerous team of the two finalists by far, the best forward pack and the best backline.

However do they really have the killer instinct to impose themselves on the Boks? They've been at times an absolute disgrace, disgraced the legacy and the jersey like never before during this cup cycle. They've been an absolute roller coaster ride.

The reality is the Allblacks have switched gears, they've got rid of most players that didn't have the burning hunger and have brought in two exceptionally high quality coaches in Ryan and Schmidt. There's not a single starter that isn't hungry, likewise the bench with it's greatest weakness being an aged Whitelock.

The Boks still have key players like Faf, Pollard, Etzebeth, but losing Malcom Marx was a huge blow, as good as the Allblack hookers are Marx would be starting ahead of them all. Marx looms as a huge shadow of deepest despair over the Boks, in the prime of his physicality Marx has been replaced by a tiny 37 year old that doesn't even play hooker. An extremely disrespectful decision by the Bok coaches that's a ticking time bomb that the Allblacks will use to target Bongi’s poor stamina.

The Boks are worse than the 2019 team, least liked supporters, low on confidence, many of the players including the captain are not worthy of being in the 23, the coach is deeply unpopular within the team and even more unpopular with match officials, they're inferior to the Irish team and shouldn't have beaten France or even England.

However the Boks remaining x factor players are still going to turn up and will try to drag the rest with them to carry the tradition of getting up to play their most respected rival. The Allblacks are going to have to be clinical because if they start timid the Boks will have a chance at pulling off the greatest upset since 1995.

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