So far I’ve resisted the temptation to do any postings at all on Strictly CD; so much candidate material but the knighthood for the stumbling, bumbling old goat Forsyth has done it for me nor for X Factor – I’ve just had too much of that highly-processed sausage machine for talentless wannabees. But after 4 weeks still no blogs on the Rugby World Cup; the project I was brought back into BT to handle in 1999 and, in doing so, had the best time of my career. I must have written more about the 2003 and 2007 tournaments than I ever did about my first love football but 12 years on what’s not grabbed me?
Well it’s not the lure of the event. I’m so looking forward to getting together with my RWC 1999 mates for an anniversary get-together on Wednesday. It seems incredible that it’s 12 years since we worked together on that project. And I’ve watched most of the matches live on ITV early each morning, even though the channel really struggles at doing sports coverage well. But it’s been a hugely disappointing tournament don’t you think? England were just a recurring train crash; Ireland flattered to deceive again, Scotland plucky losers as ever, South Africa should have beaten the Aussies but somehow didn’t and Wales were a revelation who deserved to be in the final but were thwarted by that tackle and that ref’s decision to send off their inspirational captain. And so the rampant New Zealanders bully their way to the final – they are far and away the real deal at the moment – where they will play France who have played just one decent match against the abject England team. Talk about disappointing results.
The best match I ever witnessed in a World Cup was in the 1999 semi-finals when the enigmatic French team beat the over-whelming favourites New Zealand by 43 points to 31. It was truly epic not least because I thought the French employed the chubbiest no 8 I’ve ever seen in a RWC semi-final in Christophe Juillet. Fat but fuc*ing effective. But I’d rate the chances of the French repeating their hoodoo success over the Kiwis as likely as Mike Tindall being named man of the tournament. It’s been a RWC brightened briefly by the Irish, the Tongans and especially by the Welsh but ultimately it’s been tedious and predictable to watch and the English performances on and off the field have been the most depressing aspect of all, closely followed by the sad and inexplicable progress of the French team. I lost interest some time ago. If NZ don’t win by a margin of at least 30 points in the final I’ll be staggered.
I wanted to give you a view of how thrilling old school rugby could be at the RWC by showing the highlights from 1999 of Les Bleus v the Kiwis but all the footage seems to be off-limits now. Ah well check out this shot of the chunky Juillet instead:
Happy lumpy days