I’m not going to talk about the game. You can watch it here, well, the first 15 minutes anyway. Probably best to stop there.
Let’s just look a little further into who played that game and how they fared post Cardiff nightmare.
The match day 22.
New Zealand: MacDonald, Rokocoko, Muliaina, McAlister, Sivivatu, Carter, Kelleher; Woodcock, Oliver, Hayman, Robinson, Williams, Collins, McCaw (capt), So’oialo.
Replacements: Hore, Tialata, Jack, Masoe , Leonard, Evans, Toeava.
Of those 22, nine played their last All Blacks test covered in grey. The nine:
Jerry Collins (RIP)
Big Keith Robinson
Arguably the greatest loss was Carl Hayman, widely considered one of the best props of all time. He remains playing at a very high level, and at 35 he probably would have been putting his hand up for selection (big Brad Thorn is STILL bloody playing). Okay, he actually signed for Newcastle in April of 2007 and was playing his last tests during the world cup, but who’s to say he wouldn’t have returned for 2011. It worked for Kaino.
Chris Masoe also went on to big things playing in Europe. His path to the ABs was much tougher as he is an openside by trade, and with Richie in place, his opportunities would have been very limited.
Nick Evans was also quite a loss. He hung around but was not selected and left for the UK. The calls for his ABs inclusion at RWC 2011 were loud and vociferous as injuries, took their toll on the ABs number 10s. But who’s to say that he would have nailed that penalty or provided such legend as that of Beaver. It was meant to be.
But the toll of that game and that jersey was probably greater than the nine players who wore grey but never played in Black again. It was interesting to discover that ahead of the 2011 RWC, of the 2007 RWC 30 man squad, eight made the team for 2011, but just one other had played a test in 2011 and presented as available for the next cup (Sitivini Sivivatu). Ahead of the selection for the 2015 RWC, of the 2011 RWC 33 man squad, 12 made the 2015 squad, but a further six had played in 2015 and were available, and three others were still playing super rugby.
The common threads over all three World Cups were;
Also of interest is wee Andy Ellis. He was in the squad in 2007. He was also on the bench of the RWC final 2011, playing the final 30 minutes. And he was probably half inch short of the a full fracture of TKB away from a another trip north.
But the grey was never seen again after that match. Adidas duly prepared a nice simple white one, but the ignominy of that defeat means the grey will always haunt the ABs (and adidas) and never, ever will be the ABs alternate.
Interestingly, in 2011, when the French arrived again with darker blue jerseys, they very generously offered to allow the All Blacks to wear black despite the ABs technically being the “away” team for the pool match. What resulted was a clear hiding delivered by a fired up ABs. Fiji learned from that match and did not offer the English the same courtesy. Unfortunately it didn’t really work for them.
Maybe colour is just a perception…