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Wednesday 1 February 2023 Dublin: 6°C
AP Photo/Ross Land All Blacks captain Richie McCaw poses for a photograph with 73-year-old old Trish Conner in Christchurch
# Scrum time
View from the Frontline: Simon Hick’s World Cup dispatches, Part 3
“One country looking on at this bluff-fest with a worried interest is Ireland. You wouldn’t do it to us France, would you – go and get all high and mighty and try to win the game?”

I WAS WARNED by a Taranaki man (rural area of the north island, famed for its tough-as-guts farming folk) that when you’ve got your foot on an Aussie’s throat, don’t let off.

They sometimes play dead, ‘then spring up at ya like a cobra’, a thoroughly dishonourable way to not take their beating.

Cian Healy’s size 10s did as they were told, and New Zealanders got their wish. Plucky, adorable, squawky Ireland went and did their Mighty Ducks impression and beat the Australians.

Except we didn’t kill them, we did something far worse. We left just enough life in their bones to allow them skulk off into the darkness, dress their wounds, and in the process offered them the advantage of surprise. New Zealanders now don’t feel so comfortable putting the bins out at night. What’s that noise, who is there? Its the Aussies, all mutated and mean, on their half of the draw.

This leaves the rugby fans here with a decision, and they hate making decisions. The French are expected to take a dive against New Zealand this weekend, to avoid the Tri-Nations sides.

The feeling in these parts is, there’s no better race to do the job. ‘Frenchie’ won’t be found wanting in the lack of courage department.

But couldn’t New Zealand do the same? Couldn’t the two out-pretend each other? This is a question New Zealand has never had to ask itself, and what’s irking them is they’re too damned honourable to take a dive.

All those years selling the sacred haka and the purity of the All Blacks brand has finally backfired on them.

One country looking on at this bluff-fest with a worried interest is Ireland. You wouldn’t do it to us France, would you – go and get all high and mighty and try to win the game? We earned this one, we want Wales and England, then South Africa in the final. Don’t bring a terrible darkness on our currently bright future.

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