But hang on – remember Athletic Park, 1996? The All Blacks trounced Australia 43-6 in atrocious conditions, and the country went nuts. The perfect performance (various Wellington monsoons aside) was achieved!
And strangely, 15 years on, All Black fans haven’t celebrated a win since. We are too busy analysing.
OK, fair call – we were pretty stoked after we beat the Lions at Wellington in 2005. But apparently it wasn’t the All Blacks that night. It was the Dan Carter test. So there.
Now there is even a growing call for New Zealanders to start singing at test match level. Singing! “We need a song” they say. England has Swing Low Sweet Chariot, the Irish will churn out Danny Boy when required, the Welsh sing sweetly of valleys (or the Green, Green Grass of Home – take your pick), and the Ockers are fond of knocking out a song about a sheep bothering musterer who really needed to get a life.
So what of New Zealand? Are we really stuck with an Exponents’ song about a relationship breakdown to define our rugby heritage? Or are we really wanting to head down the Dave Dobbyn track? Actually, there’s no need to answer that one.
You see, there is one thing that sets New Zealand rugby fans aside from any other on Earth. We’re not there to sing. And for Chrissakes, don’t think for one minute that we’re there to enjoy ourselves. We’re there to watch our team win via the perfect performance.
If we beat Seth Effrikka in Durban by 6 points, it should have been 7. If we thump Outer Mongolia by 160, Eric of Ashburton feels the urge to ring Murray Deaker (or worse, Willie Lose) and vent his spleen over the fact that if only Ma’a Nonu had passed to Conrad Smith instead of dummying in the 72nd minute, it would have been 167.
Incidentally, upon hearing the news of Dan Carter’s groin tear last week, the radio waves were chocker of those who swore it came as a result of over-training. Naturally, the next first time caller (long time listener) was strenuously claiming that the All Blacks didn’t train hard enough. But I digress.
Much has been made of the lack of atmosphere at Eden Park – or anywhere in New Zealand for that matter – when the All Blacks play. For starters, we don’t do the anthem well. Who cares? It’s not our scene. We are far, FAR too busy being intense thank you kindly. We like to grind out our wins.
When Ireland beat Australia in RWC2011PP (that’s Rugby World Cup 2011 Pool Play by the way), it taught our fair country a lesson on how to celebrate the game of rugby.
Fair enough – the atmosphere was fun. But were you Micks really watching? If Sexton had cut inside O’Gara in the 48th minute, he would have been under the posts, and you would have WON BY MORE. Of course, one is left to assume that your celebrations were a little muted by the fact that you didn’t quite reach perfection.
There is little doubt that when it comes to rugby, few country’s fans can match your average New Zealander’s overall knowledge of the game itself. But we seem to have lost the art of attending an All Black test to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy the spectacle of watching the best players (or Corey Flynn) at their peak. We are too busy working out why the perfect All Black performance did not unfold before our eyes.
And should they beat their opposition in the World Cup Final by 12, you can bet your bottom dollar that the talkback lines will be full of the grudgingly gracious, bitching that it wasn’t 13+.