Saturday, October 20, 2007

Bataille des Bokke III

Stade de France, 8PM
It's time to head into the the Village to issue local Aussie Doktor Doob with an England Shirt (albeit the old blue change strip - to make the Doktor wear the white would be a cruel and unusual punishment for him).

It's been an amazing few weeks but one way or another it will be over by around 10PM tonight. The Springboks have been the only team to live up to their billing this year, and will present an incredible challenge to an England side that have manged to both fall short of and then far excede expectations of them. Their team have shown a calm confidence and have largely avoided the indiscipline that has marred some other of their great sides, though Burger still always seems to be have something of the Danny Grewcock about him. In Jake white they have a truely great coach who has displayed imense dignity while some of his peers, and some of his more politicised compatriots have let themselves down. The scenes from Paris of the supposedly overbearingly arrogant Springbok fans getting paralytic with supposedly overbearingly arrogant England fans, and exchanging nothing more than noisy banter have bourne testimony to the great ethos of the game.

To the several South Africans I know, I wish you as well as I can for one who natural hopes to see you finish second.

England though...what the hell are you doing to me! A roller-coaster ride doesn't even come close to describing the emotional highs and lows. The acheivments have been such in the last couple of weeks that there's no way that things can ultimately end up feeling any other than a high, but if the odds are beaten and the Springboks turned over I can't imagine just how it will feel.
And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition

This is not the Paris of the pool game last month, this is not the Paris of Jannie de Beer and his drop goals, this is a Paris that hasn't been as close to being an English possession since not long after the days of Henry V. Stade de France is Twickenham for a day - even the French unions are cooperating by making Saint-Denis as easy to reach as TW1 is on a typical match day. It's a home game.

Here was the battle plan from last week:

Just one more time, one more time.

Good luck.

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