New Zealand’s All Blacks will take to the Stade de France pitch this evening in a bid to secure a fourth Rugby World Cup title.
Standing in their way are bitter rivals South Africa who too are bidding for a record breaking fourth title.
Coming into the tournament, the All Blacks were undoubtedly more under the radar than at any other point in the tournament’s storied history.
Having suffered a series of unwanted records including a home series loss to Ireland, a home loss to Argentina, a record defeat to the Springboks and a first ever pool stage loss to France. Few would have truly believed that the All Blacks would be one step away from securing yet another title.
Yet, when one truly breaks down their campaign, outside of their titanic battle with Ireland in the quarterfinals, the tournament has played out brilliantly for the Kiwis.
Following their opening round loss at the Stade de France, New Zealand had three easy fixtures against minnows Namibia, Italy and Uruguay to tweak their game for the bigger days ahead. Throw into the mix their lack of any serious injuries and the All Blacks come into the final in perhaps the best shape they ever have.
Whilst few will argue they are deserved champions should they defeat the Springboks. Their antics away from the pitch has certainly riled up some of those who are not
Holier Than Thou
One such journalist, Oliver Brown wrote in his column for the Telegraph that whilst the All Blacks would be deserved champions, their “sanctimonious” actions off the pitch are more of a front than an actual representation of the who the team are.
Discussing where this holier than thou culture began, Brown writes, “The All Blacks, though, inhabit a bubble. They are trained to believe in the idea of their singular magnificence. Take the mantra once adopted by Graham Henry: “Better people make better All Blacks.” Paragons, one and all.”
— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) October 12, 2023
“‘Pass the bags’ has become the modern equivalent of ‘sweep the sheds’. For it was first through their practice of leaving their changing rooms spotless after every game that New Zealand players became beloved of self-help sages the world over,” Brown writes.
Off The Field Incident
Brown then goes on to point out All Blacks backrow Shannon Frizell’s previous legal issues as he writes about Frizell’s previous physical assault of a women and a man at a Dunedin bar before sending a message to the victim’s friends that wrote. “F*** you b****, tell your friend to hide. I’m gonna f*** everyone up.”
Concluding his points on his view that the All Blacks are trying to paint a picture of model citizens, Brown writes, “Time, perhaps, for the All Blacks’ aura of self-righteousness to be punctured. So much of it is corporate grandstanding, not least the “rainbow streak” commercial they released in 2018 to coincide with Tokyo Pride Week.
“The team they are sending out at the Stade de France on Saturday night is no more or less reflective of human frailty than any other. The presence of Frizell attests to that. In the end, few doubt this side would be worthy winners of the Webb Ellis Cup. They just need, for the sake of a watching world, to dial down the sanctimony a touch.”