Why does New Zealand get so wound up by England?
It is a strange media fuelled hype-up demonstrated by the likes of Ali Williams that has a strange sense of inverted anti-colonialism snobbery about it.
The narrative around this World Cup, and it has steadily built over the last 20 years is that England in the Antichrist of world rugby. We went into raptures this morning as they were tipped over by Wales, despite the fact that an early exit by the prime hosts could deflate the overall tournament. All day the story has been treated as if this was some triumph over evil, and the funniest thing ever.
The main term you hear is that the English are arrogant. Although there is no specific evidence of that, it is fair to note that most top sports teams have a degree of arrogance about them. It helps.
One of the episodes that seems to be the genesis of this theory is the time they did a lap of honour after losing to the All Blacks. But that was at Old Trafford, and England do not play out of London often. It was all about acknowledging these new supporters; which is not very arrogant at all.
Then we hear ad nauseum how boring their rugby is. Their style of rugby is traditionally forward dominated, but not uniquely so. And this morning they turned down the chance to draw a match by going for the try. This was a replication of what Japan had done a week ago, and have been lauded all week for it.
Compare the Rugby World Cup final of 2003 as a spectacle with the 2011 one. So we are not in a position to throw stones there.
Our commentators labour this angle to the point where it becomes almost unlistenable. Once England scored a drop goal against New Zealand and Grant Nisbett sneered “Well if that’s the extent of their attacking ambition, then good luck to them”. England ended up winning the match.
Then there is Swing Low Sweet Chariot. While it is pretty rich in irony, its ability to get under the skin of New Zealanders seems out of proportion. And if you ever get to hear it live you will realise that it is pretty impressive.
The real enemy is of course South Africa. Gert Bezuidenhout, Louis Luyt to that guy who ran on the field in Durban. For anyone who followed rugby pre 1992 would know what they, and their refs, got up to. If Swing Low annoys you, try Die Stem.