Alex Massie

Allez les Bleus!

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Sympathy? You gotta be kidding me. The New Zealand press has not - suprise! - taken France's stirring victory in Cardiff yesterday very well. Of course, like their neighbours across the Tasman Sea they're not quite so insufferable in defeat as they are in victory. Even so, schadenfreude* demands that one scour the Kiwi press today:

Shattered All Black rugby fans can ease their mental pain by sticking with the World Cup until the bitter end, psychologist Marc Wilson says.

Ignoring the tournament in the wake of yesterday's shock 20-18 quarter-final loss to France would not help people get over the All Blacks' early exit, said Dr Wilson, deputy head of Victoria University's psychology school.

"I don't think you want to go cold turkey," he said.

"Spend time with your kids, take your son out, toss the ball around in the park. This is not the end of the world.

"If I was giving a prescription I would say, convince yourself we should have won if it wasn't for the referee cheating, and at least a Southern Hemisphere team is going to win.

"Put everything behind the South Africans, go out and remind yourself what else is going on in the world - there are a hell of a lot of good things out there."

Memo to Kiwis: It wasn't the referee, it was you.

It's been one hell of a weekend. Now we just need Scotland to find some way of defeating this monstrous Argentinian side... 80 minutes to kick-off; time for a quiet beer to calm nerves, quell butterflies etc etc.

UPDATE: Sorry, can't help it. Chris Rattue is one of the better Kiwi columnists, and his reaction to Saturday's match is more generous than most (even if he too, inexplicably, thinks Luke McAlister should be permitted to commit whatever professional foul he likes and do so with impunity). Still, this is what he was writing on Wednesday:

Thank goodness for the great World Cup jersey fiasco this week. Apart from recalling what the dastardly French did in 1999, when they cheated the All Blacks out of their birthright by playing a spell of blindingly brilliant rugby, it's been difficult to get overly concerned about Sunday's quarter-final in Cardiff.

So an apparel conspiracy and a delayed coin toss to decide who wears the alternate strip have stepped in to fill the build-up breach.

Not that it matters, because the All Blacks could play in sackcloths and they'd still stomp all over France.

*You're especially smug because you actually picked France to win, eh? Damn right I am.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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