Congrats NZ - we are the best losers
Congratulations New Zealand, you are not only the biggest losers, you’re the best at it.
New Zealand is so good at losing that, if you could win at losing, we wouldn’t.
We know this because, well, we keep friggin losing. But also because of our reaction to the reaction of us losing. We’ve praised ourselves mightily for being mature enough not to react to a defeat in a rugby match by overturning parked cars and setting them on fire, or being ungracious on social media.
Well done us. We’ve grown up. We can handle the fact that being without question the best rugby nation in the world doesn’t guarantee victory in every match, nor give us rights in perpetuity to the trophy that is awarded (often erroneously) to the nation that plays the winningest rugby.
We’re now mature enough to behave with unimpeachable grace when we’re plainly cheated out of hoisting the Cricket World Cup by a combination of black magic and fine print.
We can lose the America’s Cup due to the ficklest of breezes, only to bounce back with a dastardly plan to utilise bicycle power to right the wrong.
So it's basically an incontrovertible fact – no one loses as well as us.
It hasn’t always been this way, particularly at Rugby World Cups.
With normal service having resumed at Rugby World Cups and England about to assume a throne that isn’t theirs by right, we have at last become the admirable losers we’ve always aspired to be.
In 1991 we spat in John Hart’s face and threw beer cans at his horse. In 1995 we concocted an outlandish poisoning conspiracy theory involving a mythical tea lady. In 1999 we spat in John Hart’s face again and threw more beer cans at his horse. In 2003 we wanted to kill George Gregan for daring to indulge in a bit of banter. Four more years later we blamed the ref.
Despite being a nation that had mastered the art of losing, we remained startlingly poor at it.
But now, with normal service having resumed at Rugby World Cups and England about to assume a throne that isn’t theirs by right, we have at last become the admirable losers we’ve always aspired to be.
"I think we have matured quite frankly and people I have spoken to don't seem overly upset about it," was how Grant Nisbett summed it up.
This, of course, may well have been because most of the people Nisbo spoke to about it work for a company that got to watch its direct competitor make an absolute pigs dinner of broadcasting an event that will go down in history as a national disaster.
"Disappointed yes, but not blaming anyone,” Nisbo added. “I think we were into the blame game in former campaigns. We always looked around to see if we could blame somebody. I haven't heard anyone blame anyone this time."
Not so soon.
I'm not having that from you, Nisbo. Not when this was all quite clearly YOUR fault. A nation can’t just go into a World Cup with a new broadcast platform, new commentary team and an weirdly unfamiliar line-up in the studio back home and expect to carry on like it is business as usual.
We might as well have played Christian-bleeding-Cullen at centre, for Pete’s sake.
Where were Marshy and TJ when we needed them? Where was Goldy? Where was the high definition feed that remains strong in all conditions barring moderate cloud cover?
Where the bloody hell were ya? And, even now, when our nation turns its lonely eyes to you, what have ya got for a us? A bum pat for not being dicks?
My god, man. We just lost a freeking world cup.
Sorry. Sorry. Sorry.
Lost my shit there, Nisbo. That was the old me, flying into a bit of a rage. The new me isn’t the least bit bothered about losing to Prince Harry’s army of barmy toffs and Pacific Island conscripts. The better team won on the day and rugby was the real winner.
The important thing is that we took it well. Because, having fully embraced losing, we can expect to do a lot more of it.
At least we are the champions of something.