I am in recovery. It’s taken a while.
No, not from my recent infection which had me in hospital for 11 nights.
From the match.
Watching that was worse than any hospital stay.
I think if I had written this on Saturday last, after the final whistle, it would have been angry. Because I was angry.
I’m not even sure where that anger was directed but it was there.
I wouldn’t mind, but being a born pessimist I wasn’t expecting much. So why I felt so utterly deflated 20 minutes into the game, I don’t know.
But the defeat to the All Blacks, when it came, was much worse than I ever thought it could be.
Of course the people who hate rugby, some “journalists” (the quote marks are there for a reason) among them, were happy. They smugly said they told us that’s what was going to happen.
“That’s what you get in a posh boys’ sport” they said.
I would hate to have the hate they have.
Two days on, I realise that the only people feeling as angry as I do, the only people feeling worse that lifelong rugby fans, are the players.
They know they were thrashed. They know we were all expecting more.
I saw one newspaper marking the performance of the players out of ten and giving three of them one mark each. That doesn’t help.
I don’t think there’s anything to get gained by that kind of thing. I wonder what marks out of ten some journalists would get if the players were to judge them. Might be a few zeros around.
It wasn’t Joe Schmidt or Johnny Sexton or Rory Best who said we could beat the All Blacks again, who said we could win the whole thing.
But it was said. And that heaped even more pressure on a team coming from a country with one of the smallest rugby playing populations among the world’s top teams.
We have high expectations.
And in fairness, we punch well above our weight in all sorts of areas including rugby and of course soccer, hockey, cricket, athletics, boxing, the arts. It’s a long list of things to be proud of.
So I’m not going to let this get me down. Schillachi’s goal in 1990 burst a bubble too.
There are highs and lows.
So I hope the lads come back from Tokyo and get some sympathy, not the kind of abuse they’re getting from some people.
And just in case you think I’m taking it all too seriously…
The All Blacks play England in the semi final.
Here’s what’s going to happen.
It’s half time and the All Blacks are 50-0 up, Beauden Barrett having scored eight tries.
The rest of the team decide to head for the pub and let Beauden take on England on his own in the second half.
“No worries,” Beauden told them, “I’ll join you later and tell you what happened.” After the game he headed for the pub where he told his teammates the final score: 95-3.
“What!!!!” said a furious Kieran Read, “How did you let them get three points??!” Barrett replied apologetically: “Sorry guys. But I was sent off with 20 minutes to go.”