Black or gold? Either way it’s the hope that kills you

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Martin Moodie
Martin Moodie is the Founder & Chairman of The Moodie Report.

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[Eden Park in 2011 as black trumps gold. But four years is a long time in sport.]

Now don’t get me wrong, I have many Australian friends in the business, right? Some of the best airport commercial executives I know, friendly suppliers, outstanding retailers, great family-owned companies such as Evelyn Danos’s JR/Duty Free. All top people.

But… some things transcend business, ok? And one of them is this Saturday’s first-ever Rugby World Cup final between the All Blacks of New Zealand and some team in gold from across the Tasman.

As readers will have noted, in recent weeks we have been running a highly popular contest called The Great ARI Rugby World Cup Competition, in association with Aer Rianta International. There’s been plenty of punditry (most of it less than expert) and even more banter.

Now the end is near… for the Aussies at least. It’s grand final time (for the World Cup and the ARI competition) and I’ll be there on Saturday to see that great demi-god Ritchie (or ‘Rutchie’ as the Aussies call him) lead the man in black against their mortal trans-Tasman foe.

This week’s competition has attracted huge interest, with… how could they? – around 45% of travel retail pundits picking an Australian victory.

For any Kiwi, destiny or disaster awaits. Destiny in the form of a record-setting two consecutive World Cups; disaster in coming second to our brash Antipodean rivals, who I promise you will not let us forget the fact for the next four years. In fact, make that the next 40. My e-mail will be bursting with Ocker glee; Facebook will be full of pictures of the new All Blacks ‘choker’ range; and the ridicule will be sharper than the teeth of a Great White Shark cruising a Western Australian beach for brunch. And one can only imagine how nuts James Kfouri of pistachio firm Paramount Farms will go.

Yes, destiny or disaster; for me and all Kiwis who worship at the altar of All Blacks rugby, the choice is that stark. “It’s only a game,” I console myself. Don’t believe a word.

One of the oldest but best clichés in the sporting fan’s phrasebook is, ‘It’s the hope that kills you’. It’s a beautifully pithy way of saying that you would be better off having no expectations at all as your dreams at least will not be crushed in devastatingly cruel fashion by defeat.

But… I have hope. I have faith. After all, let’s compare some previous New Zealand v Australian match-ups – Dame Kiri Te Kanawa  v Kylie Minogue? Sir Edmund Hillary (first man to climb Mount Everest) v Ned Kelly? Ernest Rutherford (the man who split the atom) v Skippy the Bush Kangaroo? You see, it’s a complete mismatch.

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Confident? Relaxed? Yes, I suppose so in the same way Clarice Starling might be if she had been invited around to Hannibal Lector’s home for a romantic dinner. I’d say that this weekend would be a nail-biter (so might Hannibal but for different reasons), but I got rid of all mine (up to the elbow, in fact) in the desperate 20-18 victory over the courageous Springboks last Saturday.

You see, Australian sports teams have broken more hearts than Casanova, Dorian Gray, Estella Havisham (‘Great Expectations’) or Brett Ashley (from Ernest Hemingway’s ‘The Sun Also Rises’) combined. And invariably they have been Kiwi hearts. Note too that this is a particularly talented (and, needless to say, confident Aussie side), though their late get-out-of-jail card they played against Scotland would have made even Ned Kelly blush.


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[Will the 2011 headlines be repeated this weekend?]

One of the benefits of being an All Blacks supporter is that you’re always wearing the right colours, whether you’re celebrating or in mourning. But oh what a deep, dark, despairing black I shall wear if things go wrong on Saturday.

To the winner, as always, the spoils. To celebrate (or to grieve) this weekend’s results, I will turn the masthead of The Moodie either black with a silver fern or Wallaby gold, complete with a certain irritating marsupial, for a full 48 hours in the hours after the match. But before I do that, one or more of my Australian readers must agree to don suitable All Blacks garb for a similar period if the Kiwis come through. Any takers?

Game on.

 TMR-Wallabies TMR-All-Blacks

 [Gold or black? I kinda like the second one best…]


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