The Butterfly Effect…

2007

Opening game

Argentina 17 – France 12

Surely the biggest opening game of any RWC was in 2007, when Argentina upset hosts France in Paris. Argentina scored all of their points in the first half and then hung on for a famous victory.

This loss caused massive ripples, as it meant that France finished second in their pool and rather than playing their quarter-final at home vs Scotland they played in Cardiff against the ABs who prior to this result could have reasonably expected to be playing either Argentina or Ireland … and we all know how that worked out.

Contributed by @rowansimpson

A portent of things to come.

2007 Tri-Nations

All Blacks 33 – Springboks 6

Ahhhhh the dropkicks.

It was our heyday. We loved our rugby, were young, free, and positive as hell. But even we saw cracks in a team that would eventually crash out against France, the shock from which, sadly, the dropkicks would never recover.

This podcast discusses the last match between NZ and SA prior to the cup (and previews the final game of the 2007 Tri-nations against Straya which NZ won 26-12 – Carter kicked 7 penalties, Nigel Owens was the referee, Tony Woodcock scoring the only All Black try from which I won $250 as result of $5 bet on him to score the first try). I like it because even back then we commented on how the all blacks had lacked cohesion. Amongst other things it would lead to their downfall.

They had just beaten SA 33-6, but up until the 69th minute it had been 12-6. Some late tries, started by Brendon Leonard, a player who had far to short an all blacks career, and completed by Carter right on fulltime, falsely inflated the score line and perhaps our belief in the Henry programme, version 1.0.

Familiar names in the team include Reuben Thorne known as Mr. Invisible, the hard-as-nails-Waikato-bogan Keith Robinson (also of the career cut short by injury crowd), the criminally used Isiah Toeava at centre (i’ll talk about him in another post), and all “the Bouncers” – Masoe, Collins, and So’oialo.

I do remember those games fondly. We did look pretty good, with Sivivatu, Gear, Dougie, and Rocokoco on the wings, the bouncers smashing everyone with big hits, and Dan seemingly able to kick goals from anywhere. Its no wonder we thought the cup was ours to lose. It just made the loss in Cardiff that much harder to understand.

Contributed by Dom “The Mallet” Gibbs

Get used to forever

2007 Quarter-final, Cardiff

France 20 – All Blacks 18

In the wake of this game, Inky’s newsletter from October 7 (search the archive for the date) is one of the best pieces I’ve ever read that captured the sense of the game itself, and the foreboding that was to come. .

The final words didn’t quite make me smile, but they gave me hope and heart – and reminded me why being a fan of the game matters.

“And you All Blacks, you can lose a game of rugby on my behalf anytime, even (gulp) if it’s every four years like a metronome. If you didn’t lose occasionally we wouldn’t bother watching. Just keep playing the way you do, like you love it too much, like speed freaks… canyon jumpers, going a hundred miles an hour and overshooting the ramp when ninety would have carried the day.  I’ll be right there with you, laughing, and the canyon at least will echo.”

Contributed by @timoslimo

Can You Hear Us

The song recorded by Neil Finn for the ’07 All Blacks. It would likely be the new national anthem by now if they had won.

The bit that makes me smile is the burning cheese on toast – a scene that was replayed in our kitchen many times during middle-of-the-night matches as I was growing up.

Contributed by Rowan Simpson (@rowansimpson)