The All Blacks and Springboks fought out a draw in Wellington this weekend. But perhaps the more lasting impact from this game will be the injury to Brodie Retallick. Not since Dan Carter had his series of injuries have we seen New Zealand meltdown so much over the injury to 1 player.
Yes this is an over reaction just like they were when DC used to get injured. My friend Steve put it well on Twitter:
No one individual makes a team but Retallick is a back piece of the All Blacks jigsaw. If we go back to that historic loss to Ireland in Chicago, Patrick Tuipulotu and Jerome Kaino filled the 4 and 5 jerseys. Sure Scott Barrett has come on a long way since then (he was on the bench that day, however the All Blacks have 3 international class locks and then a big gap to the rest.
We also should not forget about the result at the weekend or those from the previous 3 games:
October 2017 – South Africa 24-25 New Zealand
September 2018 – New Zealand 34-36 South Africa
October 2018 – South Africa 30-32 New Zealand
July 2019 – New Zealand 16-16 South Africa
Yup that’s 4 games decided by 5 points. It’s been that close. You’d think that would setup Pool B at the Rugby World Cup nicely.
By nicely I mean who will come first and second because it’s quite clear that both New Zealand and South Africa will beat Italy, Namibia and Canada. Outside the top 2 this is the weakest pool in the competition and I can’t see South Africa slipping up like they did in 2015.
Even before this weekend’s game you can see that we had 3 really close games between the All Blacks and Springboks. I was surprised when I read this article on how the bookies had made the All Blacks such over whelming favourites. Sure they mention some compelling stats like the All Blacks have never lost a pool game at a Rugby World Cup. Also the winning margin is nice and big. But that’s all history and doesn’t look at what’s happened over the last 3 and a bit years.
Add in that Retallick will probably be out for 8-12 weeks with his dislocated shoulder. Remember it’s only 8 weeks until the All Blacks play South Africa at the Rugby World Cup. You have to imagine that this is going to be one of the closest pool games that the All Blacks have ever played.
Coming second in the group means you’ll probably face Ireland and Wales to get to the Rugby World Cup final. To put it another way you have to face the 3rd and 2nd ranked teams in the world. It doesn’t get much harder than that so maybe New Zealand have lost the Rugby World Cup with that 1 clear out.
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