The All Blacks’ loss to England in the 2019 World Cup Rugby tournament in Japan did not unleash Armageddon in Auckland.
There was very little cursing in Christchurch.
It would appear as though the Kiwis have developed an appropriate level of jaundice over the fate of the national rugby squad.
Past losses have triggered all manner of soul-searching, hand-wringing and other hyphenated-hyperbole.
Heads would roll. Feet would be held to the fire. Desserts withheld.
This time around, however, the teeth-gnashing and garment-rending have been noticeably more understated.
It would appear that New Zealand has developed a keen sense of maturity.
That is the news from sports broadcaster Grant Nisbett, who says, “I think we have matured quite frankly and people I have spoken to don’t seem overly upset about it. Disappointed yes, but not blaming anyone. I think we were into the blame game in former campaigns. We always looked around to see if we could blame somebody. I haven’t heard anyone blame anyone this time.”
If this were the NRL, the blame would fall on Steve Hansen, but as he is leaving the post as New Zealand coach, it would seem manifestly unfair to sully his legacy.
We seldom expect objectivity from a sports journo, particularly from a bloke who bleeds black, but Nisbett has a four-decade repository of sports writing on which to draw.
In his post-match presser, Hansen was the one lacking objectivity, offering to take a journo who asked a cheeky question outside for a “rugby education.”
The NZ press in the past would have spontaneously combusted over such an incident. This go, Hansen’s remarks were tallied as nothing other than high emotions.
Contrast that to the reaction to the NZ loss in 1999, when All Blacks fans actually threw beer and spat at then-coach John Hart’s racehorse at Addington in Christchurch.
Anyone who would throw beer at a horse is in serious need of anger-mitigation counseling.
A University of Auckland Professor of Sociology of Sport (required course for aspiring All Blacks) by the name of Toni Bruce said that Kiwis were more sanguine over the latest loss because they won the last two World Cups.