Back down to earth
18 November 2012
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To say that I felt deflated after England’s loss to Australia is an understatement. I have watched England lose many times before but rarely have I felt so disappointed after the final whistle, but that is my own fault for raising my expectations too high. Stuart Lancaster has done a great job with the England players in only a few months, but I was guilty of thinking that the team had already become worldbeaters. But by the end of the evening I had got things back into perspective.
My day at Twickenham started well. At lunch I sat next to a remarkable young woman by the name of Sarah Dalby who is giving up work next year to spend nine months cycling the length of America, from Alaska to Argentina. She will be with a group of eight or nine other cyclists and it was fascinating to listen to her story.
I sat down to watch the game anticipating an England win but we now know that wasn’t to be. The Australians were a little more streetwise and although purple-clad England showed flashes of what they are capable of they are still some way away from the finished article. There has been speculation about whether England should have kicked for goal when penalties were on offer in the last fifteen minutes of the game, but the decision to run instead seemed like the right one at the time as they had the momentum, but in hindsight…….. As the players get more experience in international rugby the team will get better.
At the post match dinner the Australian President, Rob Graham, was very gracious in victory and gave one of the best speeches I have heard on these occasions. He spoke about the intense rivalry between the two countries but also about the close bond that also exists. ‘Aussies hate Poms and Poms hate Aussies……but it’s not really like that’ is how he summed it up. And he is right. The British have taken some delight in the apparent demise of Australian sport; the cricket team no longer Number One in the world, the poor showing at the Olympics, and the beating they took in Paris last week. But we have to admire their perseverance and will to win which is something that doesn’t seem to be in our national pyche.
Speaking to some the players from both sides at the dinner it was clear how much respect they have for each other. England will learn from this loss and Stuart Lancaster will use the experience to further mould his players into potential 2015 World Cup winners.
Pictures from the day
As a footnote to the article, there was quite a lot of discussion surrounding England wearing purple for this game. I wrote about England’s change strips last year and you will see that it is not really new, it’s just a variation on an old one. Take a look at ‘Black & White (and red and blue and purple and grey)’