Friday, September 14, 2007

Are the AB's Chokers?

It is going around, particularly in the northern hemisphere, thatthe All Blacks are chokers. It is believed that they will choke again this time. On the face of it, this appears to have some truth. We won the first world cup brilliantly and have not won since despite dominating world rugby through that period. So is it fair to call them chokers? This can only be assessed by looking at each effort.

Well we can say for sure we did not choke in 1987; we won superbly without being threatened.

Neither did we choke in 1991. It was clear in 1989-91 that the All Blacks were on the decline and Australia on the rise. We lost that 1991 semi because they were better; a great forward pack, sensational inside backs and the brilliant Campese; whereas the NZ team was aging and past its best.

In 1995, but for food poisoning, we would have won that world cup, and won it well. The 1996 result put that into perspective, as NZ stormed through SA. It wasn't choking that lost that cup, but sickness.

In 1999 we did not choke but we lost because the AB's went off the boil and allowed an absolutely brilliant French side on the day to tear them apart. It was not choking but complacency as the AB's felt they had it won. Looking back, the Australians too were superior that year. They had a good forward pack, brilliant backs. We had a lot of weaknesses; few of that team are looked upon as great players and there were holes through the team. We were just not that good.

In 2003 again we did not choke but we were not as good as we think. Poor selections and a team that was not as well led and lacked experience lost to a battle-hardened clevely led Australian team.

NZ are not chokers then. They have proved this again and again on tours of SA, winning tri-nations, grand slams etc. It is demeaning to the teams that beat them to say this. The question for me is not, will we choke? Rather, it is, are we good enough? It looks good at this stage, but the South Africans and Australians are formidable opposition.

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