This Sunday morning saw the final of the Rugby World Cup, between New Zealand and France. My son needed to be in Barry by 8:30am, so I decided to go for a run along the Heritage Coast from Llanilltud Fawr (Llantwit Major – how did the name “Illtud” become “twit” to the English??). I watched the game later via the internet on ITV’s “catchup” service.
My run was very different from last week’s Cardiff half marathon, where I ran with more than 12,000 others. I saw barely a soul during my 10 mile run, and only had the sound of the sea off the coast for audio company. Meanwhile, in Eden Park Auckland, 60,000 odd rugby fans were watching the New Zealand v France final unfold. France had gone into the final as heavy underdogs, having just beaten Wales 9-8 in the Semi Final match last weekend, whereas NZ had looked impressive in all their matches.
To say that France raised their game for the final would be an understatement. For most of the game they were by far the better team, and it ended in an 8-7 victory for NZ. I would imagine most Kiwis had bitten their nails down to the bone in the last 15 minutes, as France were very much in the ascendency. But, NZ clung on, and so won their 2nd rugby World Cup, having won the inaugural one in 1987 against the same finalists.
Closer to home, Manchester to be precise, was the scene for another sporting contest, the Manchester football derby. Manchester United have dominated English football for the last 20 years, in fact last season saw them overtake Liverpool to become the club which has won the most league titles in English football. But, a few years ago Man City were bought by an investment group from Abu Dhabi, which has led to their having basically unlimited financial resources and many World-class signings. Yesterday’s derby was at Old Trafford, Man U’s fortress where they rarely lose, and had not lost for 18 months.
The final score was 1-6 to Man City. Yes, six-one to Man City! This is, apparently, Man U’s heaviest home defeat in several decades, their largest since the English Premiership came into being in 1992. Alex Ferguson, Man U’s manager, described it as an embarrassment and the worst result in his playing or coaching career. To say Man U were thrashed would be an understatement, they were annihilated.
As a Chelsea fan, this is all very interesting. Unfortunately Chelsea lost too over the weekend, to QPR, but surely Man U’s confidence must be in tatters after such a defeat. With Chelsea in 3rd, only 1 point behind Man U, surely 2nd place beckons for the Blues.
The weekend just shows that one can never predict sport, which is one of the reasons I find it so compelling. I only hope Wales manage to outscore Australia by a factor or 6 when we play them in Cardiff on the 3rd of Decemeber!