It’s the finalist of all finals, the most singularly lopsided. The homesters versus the recently unloved; the latter, (the French) having excelled themselves at the fine art of pretending to be England, minus the booze, the women (probably) and the ferries. Is there even a sort of Daily Mailized Forces of Order and Good v Dale Farm Junkies and Dishonourable Reprobates about it too, I wonder? The fearsomely beautiful and no doubt milky-lamb-cuddling ‘Blacks v the foie gras munching bootboys with no respect. With press this bad, surely even the French don’t want France to win? But could they?
The answer is a relatively confident No. And given that time is now short and that once more it feels appropriate to spill the guts of an argument rather than tease it out surgeon-like, here are a few reasons to be fearful for the French.
- They’re outgunned in every department, pretty much, lacking the blistering intensity levels the All Blacks have copyrighted as their own since… since Agincourt. (Where’s the French Nonu or McCaw or Dagg? Etc.)
- The All Blacks, in case it’s slipped you’re notice, are at home, with the heat of a nation – a truly great rugby nation – scorching at their backs.
- Though we might expect a few nervous moments, a chronic and infectious bout of under-achievement should not blight the All Blacks, or enough of the All Blacks for long enough, to give the French a look-in.
- If on the contrary the AB’s start as they did against Australia, the French capacity to sulk and even disappear may be invoked by about the 15th minute; because the cause may already be lost.
- Whilst the French pack may be reasonably competitive in the scrum (maybe) they will surely not live with the AB’s at the line-out/breakdown/generally marauding round the park?
- Perhaps Harinordoquy and Dusautoir aside, the French lack the crucial combination of real class and spirit. And they are relatively faceless behind the scrum.
- Israel Dagg, I fancy, may have a field day whilst opposite number Medard is likely to wilt.
- Whilst 9 and 10 are not special for the AB’s, they are functioning and brilliantly supported by the midfield and by loose forwards. Yashvilli and Parra have had nothing around them except chaos.
- Most obviously perhaps the difference in belief and unity should tell; the Blacks are mighty and together and they know it; the French are cock-fighting or backing different snails.
- Lievremont is enigmatically unloved; Henry is the Headteacher worth listening to.
Most important of all, dear reader, we the World Community of Rugby Lovers simply won’t allow it (a French win, I mean).
- Because without any doubt the All Blacks – the New Zealanders – are fine and even magnificent exponents of and believers in rugby as an electrifying, honourable pursuit.
- Because they will give EVERYTHING and truly, sadly, the French have given virtually nothing (and arguably therefore, have no right to represent the North. That honour should surely have ideally fallen to the Brotherhood of Redness – see 57 previous blogs).
- Because, in other words, put crudely but honestly, the All Blacks deserve it. And we will congratulate them.