What's it to be, then: Ka Mate, or Kapa o Pango? The All Blacks are still pondering which of their two hakas to perform ahead of Sunday's final, and will probably make a decision during the bus journey to the stadium. The Ka Mate version – the one that bangs on about death, life and climbing towards the sunlight – is the traditional choice: it is said to have been concocted by the Maori chief Te Rauparaha and is used by kind permission of the Ngati Toa tribe.
The second option could hardly be less traditional, having been written in 2005 by a bloke called Derek. This one talks about the igniting of passion, the explosion of anticipation, the emergence of supremacy... and ends, charmingly, with the drawing of hands across throats. "It is used at the team's discretion," says a spokesman. Discretion? Is that the same as circumspection, diplomacy, prudence and sensitivity? Thought so.
Spills, thrills and bellyfuls for Thorn
It's the age-old question: is coaching an art, or is it a science? Perhaps it's neither. Maybe it sits most comfortably among the humanities. Asked about the challenge of drawing the best from a whiskery, grizzled veteran of the second-row variety like the 36-year-old Brad Thorn, the All Black coach Steve Hansen gives a colourful response that lifts the veil on his approach to the great debate. "Brad? He's easy," says the one-time police officer. "Give him something to push, something to catch, something to tackle and three feeds a day. And make sure they're big ones. That's about it." Forget the arty-farty; away with the boffins. All you need to run a team like New Zealand is some tough love and a bloody big oven.
Paris philosophy to make Blanco blanch
A philosophy lesson, from journalists writing in the Parisian newspaper Libération. "There is no argument from the French about Richie McCaw's side deserving to win the World Cup," says the grand leftist organ, founded by Jean-Paul Sartre, among others. "They are the best team... as rugby fans, we would be perfectly fine with the All Blacks winning the Webb Ellis Trophy. But competition is not about deserving to win. Why would professional sport have any morality when society does not? The only true thing is that, at the end of the day, the winner is always right." My goodness: a hard line indeed. Would Serge Blanco and Jean-Pierre Rives, those idealistic protectors of the "special spirit", agree with this exposition of victors' justice? Or would they find it just a little too Machiavellian for comfort? The latter, surely. Pray God, the latter.
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