Was the biggest winner Dave Rennie?
Last time I looked at Australia and their rugby side, I didn’t take them that seriously. Australian rugby pre-Covid had been in a world of trouble from the top down. Raelene Castle, Israel Folau, sponsors, losses, the Rugby Championship, Australia was in a world of pain in a country where league and AFL trounced union.
Rennie, assuming they carry on to play like they did yesterday, is proof coaches make a genuine, tangible difference.
And what yesterday was about for most of us, I think, was some sort of return to normality. All Black rugby was not a forgone conclusion this year, it was possible that Ian Foster and Sam Cane would have new jobs, but would not actually execute them before year's end.
It was a return to normality in front of a crowd. And it was a reminder of sport that's played well and heavily contested is no forgone conclusion. The greatest joy is you don’t know how it's going to end. Like Australia as a country, and Australia as an economy, when they do well, we enjoy it.
There is no fun in making fun of a country that can't play the game the way they used to, and there is no fun in knowing how it's going to end.
So those last 10 or so minutes are as good as it gets. When you're kicking from behind the halfway line and it hits the post and the game is on the line, that's what you live for as a fan. The only sadness was Australia kicked it out to end the game, which was a chink in the psychological armour. Why didn’t they back themselves? Sides of old would have, sides of old would have rather have gone down fighting than choose a draw.
But on the bigger picture, the crowd, where were they? 35,000 isn't a massive stadium, this is the All Blacks, and their first match all year, so why no sellout? Was the grey day, the rain and the wind, and the empty seats a sign of what we have become? A fearful nation in a world of psychological and economic pain?
Something is wrong when a Bledisloe Cup test doesn’t sell out. When the All Blacks play to empty yellow seats, it's not right. Let's see how Auckland goes on Sunday.
But take those 10 or 15 minutes at the end, take Australia and their ability to reinvent, take Dave Rennie and know he's yet another one of ours plying their trade globally at the highest level, and all in all, that was an awesome Sunday afternoon.