Mary Hannigan’s TV View: All Black simplicity reigns supreme

World Cup final’s dramatic second half even had heretics rejoicing

New Zealand’s fullback Ben Smith  passes to his captain Richie McCaw during World Cup final against Australia at Twickenham. Photograph: Franck Fife/AFP/Getty Images

New Zealand’s fullback Ben Smith passes to his captain Richie McCaw during World Cup final against Australia at Twickenham. Photograph: Franck Fife/AFP/Getty Images

 

Did you spot all those tricolours in Twickenham? The ultimate triumph of hope over Argentina. In the end our people had to make do with being neutral observers on rugby’s biggest day, possibly having re-re-re-mortgaged their homes to pay for their seats, flights, beer and accommodation.

And apart from Prince Harry, they were just about the only Northern Hemisphere representatives in the stadium on Saturday.

Still, that second half might have almost made it worth it, one that had former All Black Sean Fitzpatrick purring with pride over on ITV, while Michael Lynagh had the look of a man weary from being gracious in defeat to the pesky neighbours.

Up all night

Earlier Fitzpatrick had told John Inverdale that although the final was timed most inconveniently for the folk in Australia and New Zealand, they’d be happily up all night. And whoever won, for several nights after.

“The mousetraps will be cooked,” he said, and clearly Inverdale, Michael and Jonny Wilkinson, having visited New Zealand quite a bit, knew that this was a tasty dish incorporating bread, chutney, rashers and cheese, unlike the rest of us who were like: ‘What?”

Out on the pitch, Martin Bayfield, as ever playing havoc with Air Traffic Control, complimented Brian O’Driscoll on his sartorial elegance, BOD informing him that he was actually wearing his First Holy Communion suit (“I must have been a fat kid”). And then he was shown that clip of him being spear tackled in Christchurch, lest he forgot. All that was missing from the lovely trip down memory lane was footage of the 2011 surgery on the trapped nerve in his shoulder.

Second Captains

Over on TV3 Keith Wood, Matt Williams and Shane Jennings were on duty with Matt Cooper, all four men deserving IFTAs for remaining poker-faced while Matt had to plug The Great Irish Bake Off and Red Rock, the latter’s promotion involving a scene where a hussy pawed a young man who was reduced to panting as heavily as the Aussies who tried to catch Beauden Barrett as he scored that final try. Red Rock is, apparently, set in a Garda station, so you wonder what they’re teaching them in Templemore.

Haka time and still you can’t but think if, say, Rory Best, Cian Healy and Devin Toner had been allowed Riverdance before Argentina pre-quarter-final, we’d have been in the semis before kick-off.

What-might-have-beens, though, are a waste of emotion, so here we were, Liam Toland and Stuart Barnes almost agreeing, for the first time since September 18, that the first half had failed to spark.

But the second nearly persuaded heretics that this sport can actually be quite good, Ben Smith’s ‘assist’ for that Barrett try almost a fifth as exquisite as Sergi Roberto’s backheel for that Luis Suárez goal against Getafe.

Future in the game

And the Dan Carter fella? He has a future in the game. If he wasn’t retiring, like.

Aussies down and out. Switch to Swansea v Arsenal? Aussies up and at it. TV3 it is. All Blacks panic. Kidding. Smooth as you like. Crisis averted. Poetry in motion.

Trophy collecting time and the Inverdale man was cranky about how long the process was taking, when if it was Chris Robshaw and not Richie McCaw collecting the shiny thing he’d have wanted it to carry on until April.

To us uninitiated, rugby can look a bit messy and complicated, but New Zealand manage, like every very great sporting team, to make what they do look so easy-peasy you’re at a loss to understand why your bunch can’t do it too.

Which is what Matt put to his panel. The consensus, he said, was that Ireland had to change a bunch of things if they were to make a better fist of it, but the panel was suggesting that “there’s nothing particularly complicated about the way New Zealand play”.

“Well, simplicity is incredibly hard to accomplish,” Keith smiled.

Ain’t that the sporting truth?

And then Dan Carter had a telly chat during the celebrations. Unlike the Red Rock man, no panting, and hardly a hair out of place.

Simple. The Great Kiwi Bake Off. The Aussies snared in the mousetraps.

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