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Whistle up a hint of reserve

The speculation is building, multiple shots are being fired across the bow, everyone seems to have an opinion about the outcome, and there is mounting tension in the air.

Only this time, it’s not an observation of the upcoming general election but rather the common elements we notice as an entire nation prepares for another Rugby World Cup.

And before some of you jump to disagree on a technicality … not an entire nation, of course, because there are no doubt some of us who couldn’t give two hoots about rugby and have far more important things to be getting on with. Little do those people know that the sporting event in France will likely impact their world in some shape or form whether they like it or not, and it’s probably not.

It used to be that an incumbent government would cunningly try to set an election date on the same day as an All Blacks test match, in the expectation that a triumph on the field might very well turn into a few extra votes from the happy supporters popping into a voting booth as they made their way home from the ground. Given that the All Blacks had an extremely high winning percentage in the 1950s and 1960s, the scheduling strategy probably had secured a few bonus points until the opposition caught on, and a handshake agreement removed the political option forever. The prospect of a lower voter turnout was given as the [diplomatic] reason for the change in approach.

This year’s election on October 14 won’t clash with any important All Blacks match at the World Cup, with the quarterfinals starting on Sunday morning [October 15] after the votes have been cast. I’m going to assume the All Blacks make a quarterfinal and the outcome of that match won’t take days, weeks or longer to become clear.

Perhaps it’s time for a bit of perspective.

I tried to catch some of my office colleagues on the hop with a quick, but pointed question – what would they be doing on Saturday morning?

Most answered with a cautious and somewhat suspicious tone. Why did I want to know? Their facial expression suggested they didn’t want to be roped into an early morning working bee or similar. Others wanted to know what time of the morning I was referring to, indicating that not much would be going on before noon.

Some had their own physical exercise regime to attend to, and a rugby game, irrespective of the protagonists, would take a back seat.

The honest among us said they would be having a sleep-in, thoroughly well-deserved of course, while others had to get to important events outside the region and would be on the road when the All Blacks took the field against France.

Some had no clue the World Cup was on and one had the housework lined up, though would consider watching while doing the vacuuming. There was a reserve bench full of indifference.

The overall attitude was best summed up by one who said they would definitely be watching the match, but would not be getting out of a warm bed to do so – rugby’s equivalent of a match-winning try.

Roger Parker
Roger Parker
Roger Parker is the Times-Age news director. In the Venn-diagram of his two great loves, news and sport, sports news is the sweet spot.

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