So, we are nearly a week into the RWC, what have we learnt?
The first thing is not a new thing, but a reinforcement of what we already knew—Auckland's traffic system is a joke. Personally, I don't know why people are upset about the train and bus fiasco last week, we all knew it would happen— this is Auckland after all. What is really surprising is how dumb Aucklanders are; as if things would be different to what they always have been. I mean, why would the Auckland public transport system suddenly be ok on the busiest night of the year? If it ain't fixed, it is broke!
The second thing confirmed, is that the Auckland Council couldn't organise a prayer meeting in a church. Why would a council cobbled together from the previous set of councils, which has historically been rife with disunity, and trying to work with central government and the ARC etc, get things right? Why would they think that something like 200,000 people would come into town for the night? Why would they have the sort of vision that any average person would have? Why wouldn't they throw their effort into a venue for 12,000 down on Queen's Wharf when there would be 188,000+ more people on the waterfront?
The third thing we could rely on is that Wayne Barnes would make a questionable decision at a crucial time in a match. Last time it was a forward pass which went a long way to helping the French beat the AB's at the 2007 World Cup—not that the match was decided by this of course. This time, it was a dubious shot at goal by the Welsh which looked like it might have gone over but was ruled out. Why would he not make a controversial decision?
The fourth thing we should have relied on is that the All Blacks would not settle on their number one team and rather play all sorts teams in the lead up to the French match. After all, combinations are over-rated, what matters is that everyone gets a run so that everyone is ready to come on. Who cares if they hardly know the guys they are playing with. In the crunch games, combinations aren't really important—what matters is depth. I would have thought we would have realised that only fifteen can play at any one time, and the key thing is that they are a hardened proven combination. Robbie Deans must be mad playing the same team week in and week out.
As for the rugby we learnt one new thing—that the Samoans are the real deal, and there must be some seriously worried teams in their pool. Watch out Wales and South Africa. I reckon this Samoan team can go all the way! Whether they will remains to be seen.
Aside from that, the top five teams NZ, Australia, South Africa, France and England were all pretty unimpressive aside from patches and so we are no closer to knowing the outcome. The only other team that looks dangerous are the Samoans and perhaps the Welsh, but only one of those teams is likely to get through now that Wales lost to South Africa. What is pretty certain is that the Irish and Scottish haven't a hope—incredibly average.
Surely, the most astonishing thing this week is the McCully serious party performance of taking over the Cup from the Auckland Council and not telling Len Brown! While it might have been the best thing to do, what a stupid way of doing it! This will come back to seriously haunt him—National will have to sacrifice him after the RWC to keep the peace with Auckland, whose leaders will not forget this moment. From a political point of view, it was a shocker. Not that it will affect the election, at least, not unless things go awry again. It certainly gives Labour a sliver of hope—a sliver mind you!
The other and very best thing we have learnt is that having a RWC in NZ is cool—don't you love it?