AFTER 15 months without a defeat, the All Blacks got spanked by England at Twickenham last Saturday, in one of the upsets of the rugby union season.
Well, it was only an upset if you believe all the hype around the All Blacks, who are not as hot as they are made out to be.
The refreshing thing about England’s victory is that the players were able to free themselves from the notion that they were there just to make up the numbers, and when they started to play with some determination and guile they found that All Blacks fall over when they are tackled, they miss tackles when you run at them hard, they drop passes and they start to lose the plot, just like any other team on the back foot.
The weird thing about All Black mania is the number of people who thoughtlessly buy into it and seem to want to take it to new levels of sporting hyperbole.
It all starts with the haka, a charming pre-match ritual which has become longer and more theatrical year by year. I am convinced there are many people who turn up just to watch the haka, during which the All Blacks wave their arms around with gusto, stare menacingly at their opponents – who themselves are now encouraged to adopt an alternative stance (literally) and whose reaction to the haka is often a matter of comment and even analysis.
I hope the England team develop their own version for the 2015 World Cup. Perhaps the players could all sit down on the grass and pretend to be rowing while singing the Eton Boat Song.
It might not have the fake menace of the haka, but it would at least be fun.