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Half-Baked at the Cake Tin

Wellington is a brilliant city, and the Westpac Stadium is – despite it’s fat oval shape and exposure to the elements in places – a brilliant place to go and watch a game of rugby. Sadly yesterday we didn’t get the brilliant game that the fantastic (if not capacity) crowd deserved.

It’s difficult to know what went wrong, and I’m sure A.D will pick over it having seen the game in detail on the TV, but it has left Al and I here in New Zealand with a cruelly deflated sense of what this Scotland team can achieve.

It now looks unlikely that we will progress to the knockout stages without knocking more tries past England than we have in several years, and without Argentina also failing to beat an underwhelming Georgia team who must play on Wednesday then again on Sunday. In short, mission failure looms large.

For quite some time we have been (or I have) steadfast in my position that if the current group of players clicked, we could do some damage to anyone (except the All Blacks). So far, the performances we have seen have just asked the question: what if we really are not much better than Georgia? Should we accept our place in the rugby pecking order? Maybe De Luca never will capitalise on his promise. Maybe Mossy can’t tackle after all. Maybe Dan Parks really is rubbish at kicking with his left foot.

Anyway, enough negativity, I am sure you get your fill of that in the press. Over here the papers marvelled at the tenacity and passion of the occasion while acknowledging the rugby was not of the highest order. I think it was probably the best Scotland crowd I have seen though, who didn’t go flat once – as so often happens when greeted with a poor effort on the pitch – and matched the Argentinians (who may have outnumbered us) song for song and cheer for cheer till the bitter and tense ending.

There was also a heavy local contingent cheering on one side or the other and entering into the spirit of it with home-made kilts or pale blue and white face paint. “Never mind,” they say, “just beat the English. Please.” almost without exception. But really there is only one colour for them, lurking beneath the surface of any temporary affection for a foreign team.

After the big game on Saturday they are finally daring to believe this might be the All Black year after all. France were all over the place as usual, but the All Blacks in places played what can only be described as the very best sort of rugby, and that which truly deserves trophies.

And really, that is what you come to a World Cup to see; even if it’s on a big screen on a windy pier in Wellington, the beer costs $7.50 for a 330ml can and you were cheering for France… wouldn’t miss it for the world.

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2 Responses

  1. Now as far as I can tell – we don’t need to score any tries against England – all we need to do is beat them and stop them from getting a losing bonus point – so 9-0 would do the trick.

    OK, still an uphill challenge to be fair, but doable never the less – It would leave both ourselves and england on 14 points, and under RWC rules, where there is a tie in the pool, the first deciding factor is not points for or against – it’s head to head result – therefore, because we’ll have beaten England, we’ll go ahead of them on the table. Don’t be fooled by all this nonsense of barrowloads of points or tries.

    Having said that, if we want to top the table we need Argentina to missfire vs Georgia in some shape or form –
    if they get beaten or draw, then we would top the group with England second. If they win but don’t get a 4 try bonus point then we would be second in the group unless we scored 4 tries on our way to beating England. Complicated – you bet, but is it ever anything less?

    Dream scenario…. well, I’ll let you decide – but I’m pretty sure it involves a Scot v France and Arg v NZ quarterfinal lineup

  2. But if Argentina and Scotland both win with no bonus points for anybody, all three teams wil have 14 points and we’ll likely be third on points difference. So we need Argentina to get a bonus point or not win!

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