Spending much of my time these days, reading newspapers as you do, I am finding increasingly difficult to understand why the forthcoming Rugby World Cup tournament is making us so miserable. Us being the country as a whole.
It seems from day one we have been making ourselves ill with worry. We worry. All the time. About everything.
Will they like us? How many are coming? 85,000? How many tickets we either have or haven't sold - 85,000? Will they all fit into the temporary stadium we have built — 85,000 all at the same time?
Is everything in New Zealand temporary? Will they like our clean green freshly frozen super food, shall we ask them as they land what they think of NZ? Will they be Kiwis returning for a couple of weeks’ holiday, see the folks etc?
Our newspapers, or at least the one I read most days, are really helping things by endlessly running street surveys in which the results seem to show up gloomy opinions about everything.
"What about the stadium? - It’s cheap.
"Should we have taken up the last Government’s offer and built a brand new proper one on the Waterfront? - Don't care.
"Who's going to win? - Don't care.
"Are you interested? - Not really.
"Are you going to any games? - Not interested.
"Are the tickets expensive? – Yes.
"Going to watch the games on the telly then? – No.
"Are we charging too much for everything? – Yes.
"Are we ripping visitors off? - Big time.
It goes on and on like this. And it's getting worse. We are now playing some of our rivals in pre R.W.C. matches and the after-match press conferences are looking grimmer and grimmer as the great days approach. Resounding wins for our All Blacks do not help. The more tries we score - and there are plenty - the more depressed our rugby administration and coaching hierarchy appear to be. After-match press conferences are like funerals and go something like this:
"That was a great win, beat the so and so’s by 30 points and scored four tries to nil. - Not really, plenty of work to do on the lineout.
"But we won all the lineouts and some of theirs… - Only because the so and so's didn't compete and jump, they will be better next time and our scrum needs improving.
"But we won all our scrums and, again, some of theirs too. - Only because they were not as good as us in scrumming today but they will learn a lot from this game.
"But we scored four tries and they didn't score any - surely that should count for something…? - We should have scored more tries and we missed so many chances which we cannot afford to do against better teams than us which is always the team we are playing in our next game.
"But they are world champions, twice world champions and we thrashed them! - Counts for nothing,they will get better and we will not. We can't get any better, we beat everybody all the time.
"As you just said, we cannot get any better so we will get worse, like we said. We always say its a game of two halves and Rugby is always the winner and the worst team wins when luck plays no part and there are areas where we have issues and we will work on them and make other necessary improvements and we won't make any comments about the Ref because the Northern hemisphere refs are no good even 'though we didn't have one today and it will be worse for us when we do get one.
"So you are not happy - what about unfair tactics? - Rumours have it that some teams are going to try to distract our team by showing them a picture of a sheep just before kickoff. Changes will be made that’s all we can say at this moment in time, changes, because that’s what we do change things.
And so on.
The team is never good enough to make us happy and we can't smile like other coaches, so we change it around until we lose then we can cheer up.
On the Monday after a big game which we have won handsomely things will always get worse. Fired up talkback radio listeners cannot wait to air their despairing views on the narrow thirty points win, and in television studios former giants of our game will deliver much frowning and prolonged shaking of heads. Sometimes if we, the viewers are lucky, they might accidentally synchronise this shaking of the heads. It could make for very funny viewing - which will be a welcome change wouldn't it?
Like, really, we could enjoy something!