Unlike in the lead up to the first Bledisloe Cup match, last week I was rather confident that the All Blacks would be able to do enough to retain the Bledisloe Cup for the 11th year in a row. Any All Blacks game is a special game, but this game was more so for me because I was attending the game in person. It was my first ever All Blacks vs Wallabies match and to say I was excited is putting it mildly. To me, there is no better contest than All Blacks vs Wallabies… it’s THE classic match up. People think rugby and they naturally think of two teams – the All Blacks and the Wallabies – regardless of either teams performance of late.
I wasn’t disappointed either, the atmosphere was like nothing I’ve encountered before and of course the result was rather pleasing for those on my side of the Tasman.
I now give you my top five highlights of the game, as well as my thoughts on the booing of Quade Cooper…
Emma’s top five (totally one-eyed, one-sided) Bledisloe Cup game two highlights
The Bledisloe Cup – straight back to the pool room
Naturally this is a highlight for me, especially because I was able to see the moment Richie lifted the Bledisloe, with my own eyes. Regardless of which Super XV franchise or ITM Cup province you support, being at an All Blacks game is a big equaliser and rather than feeling as if it’s ‘them’ vs ‘us’, you feel like part of one big (one-eyed) rugby community. Seeing the players with the Bledisloe you could get a sense of the pride they take in the black jersey and it really made for quite the emotional experience.
Bender had a blinder (again)
Again Ben (Bender) Smith had a blinder of a game and it is easy to say that without him (well, his tries) we probably wouldn’t have won the match. I joked on the way to Wellington that there was no way Ben Smith would get 2 or 3 tries AGAIN. What does he do? Proves me wrong in a big way. When Cory Jane got injured prior to the Super XV starting there was a LOT of concern about what that would mean for our outside backs. It seems that the nation needn’t have been concerned because Ben Smith has stepped up to the mark in a big way, and NOW some are saying that Cory Jane is going to have to fight to get his black jersey back. Personally? Julian Savea out. Cory Jane back in. Cory Jane, Ben Smith and Israel Dagg as THE outside back trio. DANGEROUS combination.
Generally All Blacks on debut get put on in the last 20-ish minutes of a game when the team is well ahead and looks to have the game in the bag. But for Tom Taylor his debut was possibly under the most stressful conditions known to (rugby) man. All Blacks vs Wallabies. Bledisloe Cup. It doesn’t get a hell of a lot bigger than that. Not only was he on debut but he also had the task of kicking for goal, a job where your success or failure can win or lose the game for your team. Tommy Tee was up to it though and put in a convincing effort slotting five goals and making a few good runs along the way. Of course he became the latest victim of the #10 curse, now out for three weeks with a rib injury.
Captain fantastic leading the Haka
Quite simple this one. Richie led the Haka and did a damn good job of it! That man looked FIERCE.
Dane Coles – impressive hooker
When Dane Coles came on he made an immediate impact and his lineout throws were usually on the mark. What sets Dane Coles apart from the other (admittedly aging) All Blacks hookers is his impressive speed… you just need to look back over highlights from Hurricanes games (2012 & 2013) and you will find examples of his not-really-forward-like fast footwork. This man NEEDS more game time, because come 2015 he is going to be our primary #2. In the same way that the goal kickers success/failure can impact the result of a game, the same can be said about the success/failure of lineouts, and you can’t have a good lineout without a good hooker.
And now for the booing…
On Saturday when Quade Cooper ran out with the other reserves there were a few boos. I rolled my eyes and shook my head, thinking how silly it was. When Lealiifano took a shot at goal and boos could be heard I again rolled my eyes and shook my head, thinking to myself “surely we are better than this!”. Another Lealiifano goal attempt and more booing led me to think that as rugby supporters New Zealanders aren’t very good sports.
Then Quade came on and I am ashamed to admit it, but like 99% of the crowd I stood up and booed and jeered the man. I don’t know what came over me – even as I was booing I was thinking how shameful it was – but I kept on booing. When the booing stopped I frowned and wondered what the heck had come over me. I don’t know what it is about the man that makes Kiwis hate on him so much. DOES it all come back to the incident with Richie McCaw? THAT knee to the head in THAT game all those years ago?
It is almost as if Quade has worked his way into the psyche of an entire nation to the extent that booing him isn’t even a conscious decision. I have a feeling that like me a LOT of my fellow shameful booers probably don’t REALLY know the reason why they are booing ONE player along with an entire stadium of fans. There is a mob mentality and it needs to be stopped… But I don’t know how we can get it to stop? All Blacks players have asked for fans to stop, the All Blacks coach has asked for fans to stop, Wallabies have asked for fans to stop, other international players have asked for fans to stop… at the stadium there was even an over-the-speaker announcement reminding people to be respectful of all players.
I just don’t get WHY we boo him?
For reasons un-related to his knee making contact with Richie McCaw’s head I do not like the man, BUT do I think he deserves the constant booing for doing his job? No…