The history of sporting tournaments is littered with tales of players and teams who broke a glass ceiling but ultimately fell away before the summit was attained. The lesson seems to be that the fairytale, captivating as it may be, rarely has a happy ending.
Maybe it says everything about the way the All Blacks are that the day after they learned their final pool game against Italy had been cancelled, they woke up super early and battered themselves senseless in a training game.
This becomes a delicate balancing act now. There are some very smart people in the Irish backroom team with Joe Schmidt, but this is mostly about the Irish players and the World Cup. You can see the confidence is skin deep at the moment, it’s not in their bones.
Ronan O’Gara, speaking at the Irish Examiner Rugby World Cup Tournament Preview last Monday, has said there are “question marks” over the make-up of New Zealand’s best backline, as Steve Hansen’s side prepare for their Pool B showdown against South Africa on Saturday.
The Munster and Ireland legend has already established an enviable reputation through his stints as an assistant at Racing 92 and Crusaders but he is assuming the role of head coach for the first time at La Rochelle where he will work under director of rugby Jono Gibbes.
It’s impossible to get used to -2 degrees in July. Irrespective of how many years a Paddy spends in Christchurch, heading out with a couple of Crusader coaches to a Japanese restaurant dressed like a lagging jacket always seems odd.