At a joint press conference today, the New Zealand and Australian Rugby Unions announced that they have withdrawn from future World Cup competition as a protest to the current format which encourages complacency by pestering the teams with pointless fixtures against developing rugby nations.
‘Crushing teams like Italy, Scotland and Portugal by as much as 95 points puts too much pressure on our boys,’ said Andy Leslie, President of the NZRU. ‘When we finally get some opposition, the performance anxiety is too great and we buckle beneath it…who wouldn’t,’ he continued.
National team players echoed the sentiments of the union executives. George Gregan, former Australian captain and world record cap holder, commented in Marseille following Saturday’s early exit from the 2007 Rugby World Cup at the hands of England.
‘We walked through the pool stages, and I was mentally prepared to do the same until the final against South Africa. Who does England think they are playing so hard at the rucks and in the scrum … defending champions? I say that if a ball is on the ground between some props knees, then contesting that ruck by coming through the gates and driving over the ball is just plain rude. It’s not how we do it down under.’
Dan Carter, architect and fly-half of the New Zealand World Cup campaign, spoke of the uneven effect the media had on the Rugby World Cup and their narrow loss to championship hosts France.
‘All I did was mention one day how the match balls seemed to be affecting my kicking game just a little. Then they started an enquiry, and the next thing you know France spends 40 minutes kicking the ball!’
‘It felt like a personal attack and I just couldn’t concentrate on my game. You know, France lost to Argentina so I wasn’t even taking this match seriously. I don’t even know where Argentina is! We need a world tournament where the media is on everyone’s side equally and doesn’t try to analyze us. We even had to wear some weird grey-colored jersey today, what’s up with that?”
Mr. Carter, who models undergarments for Jockey, was referring to their first 2007 RWC loss to France in which a coin toss was used to determine which team would wear their away colors.
‘Have you seen our home kit…we’re called the All Blacks for a reason. Today I just didn’t feel like myself despite my comfortable Jockey compression shorts which wick away the moisture and stay dry for a full 80 minutes. If other rugby nations could design their kit around the All Blacks color scheme, that would be great.”
The departure of two great rugby nations from the Rugby World Cup will surely be a blow to fans everywhere, especially in Australia and New Zealand. When asked how the Australian and New Zealand citizens would feel when some other country was crowned the Rugby World Cup Champions in 2011, a detailed plan for a new tournament was presented by Peter McGrath, ARU chairman.
‘The SANZAR rugby nations are set to launch a new international championship to supersede the Rugby World Cup. We will re-brand the Super14 competition as the Super World Series of Rugby (SWSoR). Since the highest quality rugby is played in our countries, we will skip the formalities of playing the other rugby nations. Besides, the Super 14 logo already has a global look and only a few small changes are needed to complete the re-branding process (see inset).’
When questioned as to the legitimacy of their new tournament, Mr. McGrath made their position clear.
‘The SWSoR is still waiting for final approval from the International Rugby Board, but we have a solid case. We simply cited all the other World Series sports like American baseball and poker where equal qualification and representation by the most skilled nations on the planet are not a prerequisite to crowning a world champion. As you can see, we’re pretty confident.’
South Africa is waiting for their impending semi-final loss to Argentina to officially announce their endorsement of the SWSoR but have stated that their support is conditional on the exclusion of Los Pumas from the new tournament since South America doesn’t really fit easily on the existing logo concept (above).
In related news, France has demanded that they be awarded the Web Ellis trophy and designated the 2007 Rugby World Cup Champions with immediate effect so they can get back to doing more important things than playing rugby.
In contrast, England remains in a catatonic state of shock. When asked how they plan to prepare for the upcoming semi-final against France, coach Brian Ashton lifted his head from his hands only briefly.
‘Oh shit’, were the only words he could manage.