Writing rugby history … Eden park Auckland on Sunday

Final…
Eden park .. Auckland… Two teams….
Last game of a six weeks tournament…
80 minutes…
One title….World champion of Rugby…
All  desire in the same direction… Winning the trophy
And nothing after.. No other match, but a lot emotions…
Sadness, or eager for losing for one team,…  joy for the other one…
There will be a hollow feeling inside, and a great deal of emptiness, and with no opportunity to get back out there again soon… With the prospect of 4 more years of anguish ahead for the losing team 

It all comes down to the final 80 minutes….
4 years to wait for that moment… But much more for most of the players…for the French, it is a child dream comes true, playing the All Blacks in Auckland to become World champion… All players on the field  probably dreamed about it.  Will this dream takes flight or would be a sad flight home…?

The same question for the two teams couple of days before, and couple of hours just prior this  » white moment », free of history yet.
So many questions, so many assumptions, so many comments, so many judgments , interpretations, a excitement level getting to all, medias, fans, players…and one thing that you did not want if you are a player  : you don’t want to let anyone down…  And One answer, Eden Park on Sunday… Greatest moment ever for rugby player.

How these two teams are going to write history?
New Zealand winning at home 24 years after their only win in the World cup.. Or living again another upset, being the favorit and losing… Or France winning for the first time and beating the all blacks for the 3rd time in world cup, or being the 2nd team to lose in the final…
How both team are going to do when the referee will call  » crouch, touch, pause , engage » ? Will they show a lot of character on the fields? Will they feel at the end to have played some great rugby, even if they lose? Are they capable of go out and perform like they are capable of doing? Will they leave with their heads held high and having earned respect?

At the end of a six weeks demanding tournament, each team needs to be fresh and ready for the « ultimate showdown » … The need of resilient mental  approach is required to overcome the fatigue and the mounting pressure.
Both teams want to step it up,  and finish their campaign positively, in a good way…
But only one will smile and celebrate…
And it could be the second best to win tomorrow, not only surely the better team  will compulsary win… Playing some great  rugby is secondary, in a final, only score at the end  is final….
How to get to the final became history as soon as the semi final whistle blew off… Now losing two pool matches, having two narrow wins over England  and Wales, particularly  edging 14 man Wales with difficulty in the semi-final… No importance for France… Winning all matches, playing at home, beating France before 37-17 in pool match, …no importance for New Zealand…
It is a final… Both teams have 50% chances to win…
This week probably has been complicated enough for both teams…
French coach Marc Lievremont kept his tournament same attitude of severe criticism about his team and his players.  Calling them « spoilt brats, selfish, disobedient » … He already saw some positive reaction after the pool matches, showing more enthusiasm and fighting attitude among his players… Perhaps  he decided to keep the same strategy of putting pressure on his players and demanding strong reactions on the pitch…eventhough he said after that  » I should have shut my big, fat mouth » … Did he go too far in his internal communication strategy? We will see Sunday night. Because many did not like the coach’ harsh words… But All players now seems to be ahave a face saving mission in the final. Desperate time brings out desperate communication strategy for Lievremont and perhaps desperate measures for the players?

Quieter in his comments, Steve Hansen, All Blacks coach responsable of the forwards, says  » all I am planning for is winning a game ».. » Now the narrow, short term goals are the focus. »…  » There is no room for anything else at the moment. It is just a total focus on getting a team to play rally, ally well as we know we are going to have to because the French will play rally well. like us, they have earned the right to arrive at Eden Park and play on Sunday. It is a two horse race and both teams will be doing their utmost to win it »
Head coach Graham Henry said it before, he will take France seriously, always, history of the world cup said it all, 1999 and the astonishing french comeback to win 43-31 and  2007, losing in quarter final again 20-18… the pain of thses losses seems to be floating around, to remain All Blacks aware, and  help preparing for a rude battle. All Blacks players  keep saying that French is unpredictable and they can play terrible one week but be rugby gods the following week. They all  know that winning ugly is stil winning, and French show glimples and they are going to show a lot more on Sunday.
All Blacks are preparing meticulously  and getting 100% ready to face their best opponent. No undue optimism.

The stakes are simple
 » if the french are in the mood and you let them play , they will rip you to pieces.  They are the one side that can humiliate you. »  Said former England Will Carling. The famous »French flair »,  made of movement on the fields, game sense, and emotional inspirationnal reactions… A game totally strange for a rationnal  New Zealander, who comes from an analytical game background…

 » The difficulty in playing against the All Blacks is meeting their speed. They do not give you much time to move them.  » said Nicolas Mas, who will play on Sunday.

 » I think the biggest challenge is being astute in what you do… » recalls Graham Henry.

Let’s enjoy the Game…

Note that we will not see the cheating on the field, like faking injuries in order to get opponents off or sent off…  In rugby, you don’t do that kind of things….nobody is going to scream at a minimal contact, and run away or hide… Oval ball sport has some values…

A « white card » to Jo Maso, who won the toss for choice of kit colours, and opted to allow New Zealand to wear their all black strip on Sunday, leaving the French team with their all white away kit.. This gesture showed respect to the game of rugby, respect to the situation of this particular final in Auckland and great respect to the history of their opponents… Thank you mister jo Maso, you showed some class… Winning the cup is important but winning first respect is essential…. A lesson for the french coach and some of his players, quote » would obviously have wanted to deprive the All Blacks of their preferred playing kit…  But remenber … Can you do better than beating the All Blacks at home in the final of a World Cup in their black jersey? No… This would make history for ever… And it is still France versus New Zealand, isn’t it?

My advice to each player  to remember before entering the stadium…
Retain the same character as back then, when you were child, dreaming about a World cup final. Keep that competitive attitude … That ‘s always been one of the secret of why players are currently among the top 10 players in their sports…
Pure Passion of a child…

Enjoy the match….

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A propos jacques hervet

A unique culture A worldwide Sports top level experience combined with a corporate experience. With the profound conviction in « accompanying an athlete, is helping him to manage himself alone »
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