• November 8, 2019
The Webb Ellis Cup. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.
Rugby fans in New Zealand and around the world should be relieved that we didn’t win a third straight World Cup.
If we’d won the tournament, it would’ve become boring for all fans of the sport, a case which is becoming more common in other codes.
If the All Blacks had beaten England in the semi final, the latter would have been dismissed as yet another Northern Hemisphere team we beat, just like the Irish one week earlier.
South Africa are now the team to beat in rugby, and the passing of the baton was something essential for the sport. New Zealand now have more motivation to win it back, which has been the case in other sports, especially football.
The best comparison to New Zealand right now is Manchester United under Sir Alex Ferguson.
For the first 21 years of the English Premier League, the Red Devils won 13 Premier League titles, four FA Cups, three League Cups and the Champions League twice under Ferguson.
They were hated for winning everything, and it was a massive achievement and surprise for everybody when they didn't win a trophy, especially the Premier League — Ferguson’s speciality.
But then Ferguson retired. And immediately after he retired, they lost their Midas touch and have struggled to get back what they held for so long.
They could no longer challenge to retain and have since slipped down the pecking order badly, finishing 7th, 4th, 5th, 6th, 2nd and 6th since Fergie left.
Their crosstown rivals Manchester City, under the ownership of Sheikh Mansour of Abu Dhabi, became the team to beat, especially after they won the Premier League back to back in 2018 and 2019 respectively, as well as a domestic treble earlier this year under Pep Guardiola.
And now since winning the Champions League, Liverpool under Jürgen Klopp are the team to beat.
The role of team-to-beat rotating is good for football because it invites more competition for that role.
In a way, New Zealand, England, and South Africa are equivalents of these Premier League teams.
Right now, New Zealand is Manchester United, with England and South Africa taking up the roles of Liverpool and Manchester City respectively.
It is hopefully inevitable that New Zealand will return to the top of world rugby, but for now, let’s just pray that this World Cup drought doesn't last 24 years. Again.