Was the All Blacks mentality their downfall?
After his hostile (but of course tongue-in-cheek) analysis of the semi-final, Ben Johnson asks wether France's success over the All Blacks was due to the Kiwis' weak mentality. This man is just shameless ! As distraught fans across New Zealand wonder what on earth they have to do to win the ultimate prize, the media inquest is already in full flow.
The concept of ‘droppie-phobia’, in reference to a disinclination to attempt drop goals, is just one straw to which the stunned All Blacks seem to be clutching. Their point is certainly well taken. If England or Argentina were in the same position, 20-18 down in a semi-final, then Wilkinson or Hernandez would surely be primed for action. Richie McCaw left it up to his backs to “know when its on to have a go”. Some would say that it is a captain’s job to dictate play in such situations. That said it is difficult to criticise McCaw for having such confidence in his side’s ability. McCaw and his backs firmly believed that they could and would score a try. This is a different mindset, certainly to that of an Englishman. Under Sir Clive Woodward, England were at their strongest but at no point were they described as adventurous or expansive. This New Zealand side have advanced the game to a level many cannot reach yet they have failed to translate global dominance into success at a World Cup. The immediate sacking of Graham Henry is also indicative of the level of pressure on the All Black team. The coach and the players have been harshly criticised for losing one match, by two points in a world cup Quarter Final. It is important for All Black supporters to appreciate that this was not a game against mere rugby minnows. They faced an extremely talented and powerful French side. They should not be ashamed of themselves, as they are still the team to beat in international rugby. New Zealanders do have to realise, however, that an ugly win looks no different in the record books than a free flowing demolition the like of which they so often deliver. As an England fan I have learnt to be more than happy with a victory, gained solely from the boot of Jonny Wilkinson. For us, tries are merely a bonus.