It’s not been a good couple of weeks for New Zealand rugby – they lost for the first time in the Commonwealth 7s, the Crusaders were beaten in the Super 15 final by the Tahs and yesterday the Black Ferns went down to Ireland in the Women’s World cup.
For a nation that thinks winning rugby is somewhere ahead of a major lottery win this will be devastating. Before the rest of the rugby world write them off I suspect that this is a blip rather than a downward spiral. The sum total of points difference from all three matches was 9 – and all three could easily have gone the way of the NZ teams.
Attention now turns to the Bledisloe Cup and the Rugby Championship – the euphoria in the Aussie media seems to suggest that the Wallabies only have to turn up to pick up both trophies. They point to the success of the Waratahs – many of whom will be in the gold shirts on August 16th.
A word of caution – Dan Carter may be injured but there are more than a few decent replacements – so much so that Warren Gatland is keen to have one that can’t get anywhere near the AB squad! There are also a number of ABs who weren’t in the Crusaders side and will be in black shirts in Sydney in a week or so – the Smith trio for a start.
So, unfortunately for the rest of us it may well be business as usual for the All Blacks – who, incidentally, will be looking for a new record of successive wins. My money is on the All Blacks to extend their winning run and to pick up both trophies. It’s a shame that the NZ RFU didn’t show a little more grace when they tweeted about the Irish win yesterday –the world’s best rugby nation should be better than that!