On the eve of the 2013 England v New Zealand rugby union international, the Guardian’s Rugby Union Correspondent Robert Kitson offered a remarkable analysis of what might happen. The article stands for itself but I couldn’t resist adding a few comments of my own.
Stuart Lancaster’s young side are surging up the world rankings and victory over the All Blacks may send them to a new level
[This is true. The surge has taken England from sixth to third in the rankings during the period when the New Zealand All Blacks comfortably retained the number one slot.]
It could be different …
What price would the bookies be quoting, if Alex Corbisiero, Manu Tuilagi, Tom Croft, Marland Yarde and Christian Wade were all fit? Instead Paddy Power has England at 13-2 with the All Blacks 1-9, reflective of the home side’s imperfect build up.
[So the bookies think the victory somewhat unlikely, offering odds of 9 to 1 on for an All Blacks victory despite England’s aim to trample them.]
Nobody yet knows whether Stuart Lancaster’s new England are the real thing, or some other brand of cola.
[Nobody except our insightful Guardian columnist]
The Emperor’s new strip
Those who reckon they are overhyped and got lucky a year ago are still out there. If the English lose by 20-odd points it will be seized upon as proof that the Twickenham megastore is flogging the emperor’s new clothes.
[Not to mention the Guardian’s megastore? My previously private view was that England should be pleased if they keep the deficit in the match to less than 20 points.]
Lucky All Blacks
What if New Zealand are actually the lucky ones, fortunate to catch England’s fledglings now before they soar to a different level?
[Hard to fault this brilliant logic. The momentum is well and truly on Mr Kitson and England’s sweet charioteers.]
It’s the ref wot done it
England are an increasingly tough side to shake off in the final quarter and the referee, Craig Joubert, cannot possibly be as generous to New Zealand as he was in the fateful 2011 World Cup final against France.
[Ah, yes, New Zealand are the world champions because of a dodgy French-speaking South African referee who should have gone to Spec Savers. An easy obstacle to brush aside.]
Swing low, sweet chariot, bloo bloo chocky wocky
Either way, it will be closer than last time. New Zealand must remain favourites by virtue of their 12 straight wins this year. But England are more composed than 12 months ago and 13 is not always the luckiest of numbers.
[And I am writing this from a pram swinging softly in the breeze from a tree on the planet Zog, while plotting England’s rightful domination of the world of Rugby Union down there.]
England nearly fulfilled their dreams, losing narrowly. My remarks were shown to be unworthy. Well done England.