Yeah, you heard right. The vaunted All Blacks took a nosedive against the hosts, the French. And I saw it all on the most basic cable package we can get.
Due to my, um, inability to find a job, we have cut back on a few things we don’t really need. Our mega cable package was one of them. (It wasn’t that mega, it was the minimum required to get HD channels, though they are now gone, too.) I am left with the networks (we get two sets here, one from each of the two cities nearby), weather, CNN, a bunch of local access channels, ESPN (and ESPN2, my college basketball watching is safe!) and then something called Versus.
Versus is, as best I can tell without going to their web site (why ruin the fun) an all-day Midwestern men’s channel. If you kill it for sport, there’s a show on Versus about it. But there seems to be another category too: if it is even remotely classified as a manly sport, and nobody else carries it, you can find it on Versus.
Thus, I am catching occasional games from the Rugby World Cup, going on now in France.
Today, I watched (TiVo-delayed and in extreme fast-forward) the host French play New Zealand (called the All Blacks for their uniforms). This is a single-elimination round, and the All Blacks were supposed to roundly trounce the French. But they did not. The French held on for a win with some excellent play.
And this despite the (now embarrassing) display of New Zealand tribal bug eyes and grunting chants the All Blacks players delivered when the two teams lined up before the game. At the time it seemed all cool, and freaky, and scary and foreign… now it just seems silly.
Update: Some people might get the impression that I am disrespecting the tradition of the All Black’s Haka (a form of the traditional Maori dance). Quite the opposite. I love the All Blacks, but think that the French, in this game, stood up to them toe-to-toe during the performance, and then proved it during the game. As noted in the Wikipedia, “Most recently, France famously wore the blue/white/red of the French flag and walked up to within a meter of the Haka performance, forming a line of patriotic opposition to the performance. They went on to defeat the All-Blacks 20–18.” While all the YouTube videos of this actual performance have been removed at the request of the Rugby World Cup, here is one of a match between New Zealand and France from 2006, in French, with French subtitles.
I am, of course, rooting for Argentina to win it all. They are still in it, and Versus is planning on giving me one of the semifinal matches (teams TBA) and the final, several hours delayed, of course. I hope it is the Argentina v. RSA game.