New Zealand the winners, Australia runners up – was there much point even playing the Rugby World Cup given that most sane rugby fans could have predicted that outcome before a ruck was formed?
Despite the predictable ending it proved to be a highly entertaining Rugby World Cup with nations like Japan, Argentina and Scotland restoring our faith in the underdog. While English and Irish fans will have been left flat by their teams performances, Wales can take solace in the fact the only reason they got knocked out was because they ran out of players. At least they’ll be fresh for Japan in 2019.
Habana goes bananas
Friday night’s Bronze final between South Africa and Argentina proved, as it usually does, to be a damp squib, the rugby equivalent of two fat men fighting over a doughnut that’s a week out of date.
South Africa won the game fairly comfortably but Bryan Habana failed to break the Rugby World Cup try scoring record which everyone bar Jonah Lomu was backing him to do.
He had four decent chances to cross the whitewash, but dropped, spilled, knocked-on and juggled into touch when the line was at his mercy.
He cut a frustrated figure as he was substituted. A beautiful South African fan tried to console him with an offer of a ‘quick fumble’ but he presumed she was making fun of his efforts on the pitch.
To add final insult to injury the South Africa team returned to their homeland, bronze medals in hand, only to find that Oscar Pistorius was hosting their homecoming party.
Aussies not so lucky
Argentina had attracted a number of celebrity fans during the Rugby World Cup, none bigger, in several senses of the word, than Diego Armando Maradona.
Not to be outdone, Australia rolled out their biggest superstar for the final.
Sadly the Australian rugby team weren’t to be so lucky as Kylie Minogue who was watching from the grandstand. It wasn’t a case of better the devil you know for Wallabies as they were left spinning around by their Tasmanian rivals. They must have felt they’d been hit by a locomotion after pulling the game back to four points only to be left on the wrong end of a 34-17 scoreline. It’s a defeat they’ll not be able to get out of their heads.
But it could have been a lot worse. Imagine if Dannii had been invited too.
Best offload yet
While Dan Carter, Richie McCaw and Ma’a Nonu bowed out in style with a second Rugby World Cup win in succession, it was to be Sonny Bill Williams who stole the limelight for the second week in succession.
I’d spoken last week about Sonny Bill Williams’ quick offloads and sure enough this week he held on to his winner’s medal for less than two minutes.
Spotting a kid who had been tackled to the ground when trying to invade the pitch to celebrate with his heroes, Sonny Bill singled out the boy and gave him his winners medal to make up for the manhandling from the jobsworth security guard.
In reality, players like Sonny Bill don’t need medals (even though they’re giving him another one). He will go down in the history books as a man who has won back-to-back Rugby World Cups having swapped codes from league to union as well as being able to handle himself in the boxing ring. He doesn’t need a medal to back up his legendary status in years to come.
It’s just like the final scene of Star Wars: A New Hope when all the rebels get adorned with medals from Princess Leia. At no point in the rest of the trilogy do they have to produce those same medals to prove their worth in battle. Although you don’t see it in the films Hans Solo is understood to have given his medal to an Ewok with alopecia.
So while Sonny Bill doesn’t need to display the spoils of victory and can let his reputation proceed him, for completely the opposite reason Trevor Woodman carries his World Cup winners’ medal everywhere he goes.
I don’t think Sonny Bill was the only New Zealander who considered giving away his winner’s medal. In the dressing room after the game several of the All Blacks suggested forming a queue to give Kylie one. What a truly magnanimous gesture. And this is why the All Blacks are the best in the world.