Steve Hansen: A Plea To Save Rugby

Dear Mr Hansen,

Well that Bledisloe Cup game was something special wasn’t it? A six tries to one consolation effort. That is simply incredible. Hard to believe that was your opposition in the Rugby World Cup Final last November. Australia are the second best team in the world.

Yet, you demolished them, with retired stars missing, new young guns out injured, and they may or may not have been listening to your game plans all week.

As an Englishman living in Australia it’s possible to imagine that parts of that game were thoroughly enjoyable but there is a nagging fear that overrides any joy that could be held in the Wallabies humiliation.

Steve Hansen: A Plea To Save Rugby

Simply put, you’re too good. The basics are sublime, the set piece is solid, the defence is built like an Alcatraz in the Tasman, and the attacking play is from another planet.

The world of rugby breathed a sigh of relief last Autumn as Richie McCaw, Dan Carter, Ma’a Nonu and Conrad Smith either packed their boots away or set sail from some French sunshine tinted with a heavily investment of Euros.

The New Zealand rugby star farm simply harvested a fresh batch of pure, unadulterated rugby class. So good is that new crop, arguably one the best players from the Super Rugby season, Damien Mckenzie, is running around a provincial paddock somewhere.

The rest of the Rugby Championship may leave this plea unneeded. Who knows, maybe the Wallabies will turn you over in Wellington. Maybe Argentina will in Hamilton, and the watching world will sit, stare, and say ‘unbelievable, they are beatable.’

What is more likely to happen, although it’s unlikely you or anyone else in the All Blacks set up will admit it, is that New Zealand will rampage through the Championship. Adding another thoroughly deserved trophy to the cabinet.

At this stage it is probably clear that despite Red Rose tinted eyes, it is possible to appreciate just how good the All Blacks are and will be. Now Steve, if one may be so presumptuous, could you kindly please take yourself and all that talent and just leave the rest of us mere rugby mortals to fight among ourselves.?

A 12-month hiatus, a sabbatical, long term leave, call it what you will, but please let us catch up. A year is probably not long enough, but we know you love those cold northern hemisphere afternoons where you fill all the stadiums, so don’t stay away too long.

By all means continue to play.

We saw this year in Super Rugby that you have the strength and depth to play almost Test level matches among yourselves.

If we can get the South Africans, the English and French to send you some TV revenue money, would you give us a chance to get better? Imagine it, top quality opposition on a weekly basis. Then you can sit back with a beer or two and watch the rest of the world battle it out to improve.

The old adage is ‘to be the best, you have play the best’. But with all due respect it’s not as if any side could come close.

Fellow Englishmen will point to the current crop in white, and unfortunately we won’t see until next year if Eddie Jones’ men are anywhere near the level of the All Blacks. England, like most sides, will need time to improve and a rugby calendar year without the All Blacks gives them that necessary extra preparation time. Maybe we’ll even let the Southerners come North to join the Six Nations for one year.

As a realistic man it’s hard to envisage you as a rugby nation taking up the offer to leave us alone for a while. We want this to, you know, get the basics of this rugby game properly sorted out.

The opening Bledisloe showed again your front row has better hands than most nations back three. Next time you face one of the rest of us, Australia, England, South Africa, Argentina, you’ll see us as the beaten and bloody men that lay before you. Take into consideration that we are mortal and not crafted out of green stone like you.

Even our songs tremble before the Haka.

Remember you need us. So you have someone to beat to win three Rugby World Cups in a row, so be nice. A year to get better, that’s all we ask, we promise we’ll even make an 80’s movie montage to show how were improving. Enjoy the rest of the Rugby Championship and try not to break too many nations spirits.

Yours with respect and hope,

The rest of the Rugby World.

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