Sunday, 16 October 2011

A World Cup to remember, even by English standards

So England's World Cup has come to an end. And what a journey it has been. Going from one glorious performance to another, consistently punctuated by professional and high class off-field incidents. It seems only fitting to put together some form of memorial to commemorate such an epic campaign - for future generations to gaze upon and draw inspiration for their own battles ahead.
Much as the modern generation of football fan looks back to the footballing greats such as Pele, Beckenbauer, Di Stefano, Cruyff and Maradona with nought but youtube videos to convey their greatness, so it shall be in just a few short years, when names such as Tindall, Wilkinson and Johnson fade from memory. The pitiful offerings of 2003 shall be resigned to DVD extras, as the feature length presentations focus on the events of the last month or so and the glory showered upon our great nation by its oval-dropping throwing representatives.

I appreciate that the wealth of material available has meant that others have put together brief timelines, referring to a few of the more celebrated happenings, but here's a brief run-down of my own of how things have panned out so well for us recently:

11/9: Encouraging signs from the word go as the new All Blacks (black is the new white) grind out a win against mighty rugby nation Argentina, England apparently "composed under pressure" - Wilkinson a particular highlight, safely putting away 3 kicks, and missing just 5.

12/9: Celebrating the dizzy heights of the spectacular 13-9 win over the Pumas, England descended upon the Altitude bar. A few harrassed females and thrown dwarves later and commendably the lads created a few more headlines to really raise the game's profile and get youngsters interested in the sport. One can only applaud such dedication.

13/9: As well as Courtney Lawes being banned for two matches for a gentle rub on the temple with his knee-cap, Martin Johnson's defensive skills get another run out, this time defending the decision to allow a slightly more unusual form of training. Namely, bungee jumping.

18/9 & 24/9: England take it easy, coming through a couple of matches against lower ranked teams and starting to appear as though they actually care about winning rugby matches more than doing as much for New Zealand's tourist office as Murray from Flight of the Conchords.

29/9: Two England coaches unfairly suspended for helping an old man (Wilko) by giving him a different ball to kick with after the one he had been using kept frustratingly dodging the gap between the posts. Such care for the elderly should surely have been commended but alas not in this instance, and in this a so-called gentlemen's sport. Lamentable.

1/10: The second month of the tournament begins with another famous win, preserving our 100% record, but I think enough has been said about the monumental victory over the Highlanders, and just what a strong position England were in at this stage. 

3/10: Delon Armitage banned for the quarter final for an over-exuberant neck hug during the Scotland match, his attempt at affection seemingly misinterpreted by the authorities.

4/10: Manu Tuilagi becomes the first of 3 (also Moody & Lawes) to be fined for doing his best to resuscitate the economy by the supporting small businesses with a bit of dental advertising. 

8/10: Having been to the last two finals, and beating France on the way on both occasions, it was only right that we let them have their moment au soleil. We couldn't throw the game of course so decided instead that a 16 point half-time handicap was more appropriate. Made it look realistic you see. We were also ever so good sports throughout the match, regularly giving the ball back sportingly, even when there was no injury or apparent reason to do so. Good old chaps those English boys. I'm sure they just wanted to return to their families anyway; I gather for some there may be things to discuss back at home.

9/10: Our favourite Samoan then decided to celebrate a successful campaign and particularly his own form (which was actually good), with a quick dip in Kiwi waters. Turned out to be a relatively expensive one for him but no doubt it was refreshing, and gave us all a bit of eye candy so everyone's a winner really.

And that was that. A treat for all to behold really - well organised, disciplined, professional and ultimately successful. Who wouldn't want an 80% winning percentage and a quarter final place? It's more than we've done in football world cups for more than 20 years. Similar standard of penalty taking to 1990 as well. A month and a bit to make a country proud of its sporting heritage and skill - surely Martin Johnson will choose to leave now on a high - quit while you're ahead as it were. 

(I thought I'd be a little less subtle than the last article which proved a bit much for certain dimwitted folk to understand)


  1. The thing that bothered me with the whole affair was Johnson always banging on about winning ugly. Which I think places the sport on a much higher pedestal than it belongs, has he forgotten that it is, at the end of the day, entertainment? In war winning ugly is fine, win at all costs. In sport, winning is important, but not when the whole nation starts hating you, which is where we are heading. A bad 6 nations and I think that Eng will have much bigger problems, namely filling Twickenham.

  2. Have you been at the World Cup, or just watched from afar? Would be interested to hear how it compares to other WC's?

  3. Laurence JK: You misunderstand. When Johnson refers to winning "Ugly", he is referring to the alternative Beauty contest that is held behind the scenes at each rugby international. He, with the mono-brow and fatlip is currently a champion at "winning Ugly", however he is under intense pressure from Huw Bennet.