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The All Blacks are not to be denied Posted almost 5 years ago

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Photo: Jeanfrancois Beausejour, Monaco

The RWC semifinals certainly lived up to their billing, but not as people expected! All of the UK turned into honorary Welshmen for the day and were stunned at the match changing Warburton decision when it happened. Most Irish friends sent preemptive texts apologizing on behalf of their countryman. However, Wales should still have won easily and I cannot imagine McCaw making the mistake of an over aggressive tackle, however benign in its intent. The young Welsh Captain will learn and come back stronger, as will the whole Wales side which is destined to be a force in 2015 (no hurry, lads!)

By the way, I read that New Zealand wished for Wales to contest the final – steady on. Guys, its your first final since 1995 and second ever, so be grateful and yearn for the easiest opposition you can!

What does it say about France though? Who have seemed to have a death wish throughout the tournament but cant find anyone to administer the coup de grace! Well I have news for this French side – the All Blacks are waiting, and there’s history and unfinished business.

Its unimaginable that the Men in Black can fail, but not because they are overconfident. There are many more important factors at play: are the home nation, suffering in the adversity of the Christchurch earthquake, without a RWC since 1987, clearly the best side on form, young and hungry and above all they owe the French a hiding.

I don’t subscribe to the ‘anything can happen’ approach. Certainly I expect the French to come out and take on the ABs up front. They will be praying for rain and another contentious refereeing decision, perhaps a yellow card. Only then will a smidgin of uncertainty be introduced… and that’s still not enough!

I think that the ABs have the best back three in the world, as well as the youngest. If you are good enough, you are old enough! England, please note!

Their set piece is impeccable and Cruden has grown into his role. As has Piri Weepu who is all action from the haka onwards. Against Australia I thought the performance was exceptional, and remember semifinals are games to win, not to be heroic losers.

Despite the fact that I am a Francophile, even a qualified French teacher, and for whom the Marseillaise is an inspiration, the All Blacks are not to be denied. It is their time and if I am wrong we will again marvel at the essential ’ je ne sais quoi’ of our amazing game.

Meantime, back in the asylum that is English rugby…

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Hallers played for Oxford University, Bath & Harlequins and represented England in 23 test matches, including the Rugby World Cup final against Australia in 1991. Simon, a former RFU Council member, is an investment banker in the City of London and also Executive Director of Esher RFC.

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