Even if I hadn’t been watching on TV, the cheers and hooting which rose into the Jo’burg night from around 10:45 pm on Saturday would have informed me that the result of the Rugby World Cup final was far more to my neighbours’ liking than my own. I can’t argue with the result: the England team gave it everything they had, but never quite reached the glorious heights of intensity and focus that they attained in the quarters and semis, and the Boks always seemed to have a slight edge. There was the matter of that disallowed try, of course, which must have been about as close to scoring as you can get without being given the points; but in the final analysis, the points we gave away by conceding silly kickable penalties exceeded those we would have gained if the video ref had plumped for the other side of the borderline.
Yes, I’m disappointed, and yes, I’m not looking forward to the next few weeks of crowing (if I’m lucky, it will just be weeks) from the magnanimous victors. But, let’s face it: if, five weeks ago, someone had offered any England rugby fan the chance to go down honourably in the final – having once more put one over the Aussies, and beaten the French, en route – to a man, we’d have bitten their hand off. The boys did us proud, and more than that, there’s some hope that their efforts may herald a slightly less depressing four years than the aftermath of 2003 proved to be.
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