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Jason Pine: At no previous World Cups have I felt less optimistic than I do today

Jason Pine,
Publish Date
Sat, 9 Sep 2023, 3:31pm

Jason Pine: At no previous World Cups have I felt less optimistic than I do today

Jason Pine,
Publish Date
Sat, 9 Sep 2023, 3:31pm

Look, we can still win the Rugby World Cup. 

That is probably the height of naivety, but we physically can still win it. 

We were always going to face, in all likelihood, Ireland or South Africa in the quarters and that hasn't changed.  

If you're looking for precedence, South Africa lost their first game in 2019 and went on to win the Rugby World Cup in the recent FIFA women's World cup. 

Spain lost four-nil to Japan in pool play, they went on to win the tournament. 

Our starting forward pack was without Tyrel Lomax, Brodie Retallick, Shannon Frizell and Sam Cane this morning, and on the back line, no Jordie Barrett. That's five genuine starting players not there, and yet we still went toe to toe for a long time against the tournament favorites at home with 80,000 fans in the stands. 

But let's now be realistic. 

Let's look at this with a cool head and in doing that, it's very, very hard to see how the All Blacks can win three test matches, like the one this morning, in consecutive weekends in October.  

France were better than us this morning. 

Absolutely, no doubt about it. 

Nobody is saying the All Blacks should have won that game. 

The only way we can play France again is in the final. But to get there, we have to beat Ireland or South Africa in a month or so, and then someone from the other side of the draw who's probably won most of, if not all their five games up till then. And then overturn this morning's result and beat France in the final. 

Look at no previous World Cup have I felt less optimistic than I do today. 

That was a tactical master class from France in the second half helped of course by the All Blacks errors and indiscipline, but they monstered us in the second 40. 

We defended well up to a point, but repelling wave after wave after wave of French attacks takes it out of you, especially when you start giving away penalties and then the dam burst.  

And then when we were behind, did it ever feel like we were going to claw it back? It just seemed so unlikely.  

When we were behind, I can't remember an attack by us which looked like it might end up with us scoring. 

And we also kicked away a heck of a lot of ball. It was clearly a kicking strategy, but I'm not sure it bore the fruit that we were after. 

There was certainly plenty to work on for the All Blacks Brains Trust. 

Look, there was no shortage of heart. No one didn't try, no one didn't tackle, no one didn't give 100%. 

But that's base level stuff, right. 

Wearing an All Blacks jersey means those things are not negotiable, but it's being cool under pressure, winning the big moments, coping with adversity, and being better than your opponent mentally where the difference is made.  

At a Rugby World Cup everybody can play rugby. 

But now lots of teams can think rugby better than us. 

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