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The All Blacks - Haere Ra To The Chokers Tag
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The All Blacks - Haere Ra to the Chokers Tag

On October 23rd 2011, New Zealands beloved All Blacks won the Rugby World Cup in front of their home fans at their fortress Eden Park for the first time since it last did in 1987, ironically also at Eden Park and hence, ridding its long suffering fans of that dreaded chokers tag.

Rugby World cup 2011 was a 6 week party the tiny rugby mad nation looked forward to hosting, but came with a great deal of trepidation, a little anxiety and a lot of fear. Could a country our size successfully host an expected crowd the likes of which we'd never seen before? Would we be good hosts, or would our sometimes manic support for the All Blacks overshadow our friendly nature? More importantly in many kiwis books, could we finally end the heartache of world cup defeat suffered way too often in the past?

The All Blacks went into the world cup hot favourites as they usually did. Recent accolades included:

  • a win loss ratio of over 75% in all test matches
  • a winning record over every nation played, with only 5 of rugby's greatest nations ever recording a win over the All Blacks
  • most weeks ranked No.1 by the IRB since world rankings started in 2003
  • Tri Nations winners 10x over the other top 2 nations South Africa and Australia's 3 wins apiece
  • Head coach Graeme Henrys win record of 85% making him one of the most successful of all time
  • several players reached milestones including most capped All Blacks in their positions for current players Mils Muliana, Richard Macaw, Kevin Mealamu, Brad Thorne, Tony Woodcock and Dan Carter
  • won the last 25 matches at Eden Park, the venue for the two semis and grand final

In spite of these impressive statistics the only real one that mattered in 2011, was the All Blacks past 5 world cup failures. Each failure marred by poor decision making on the field by both players and officials ie. that forward pass in 2007, build ups that included the dreaded rest and rotation policies, players selected out of position - even dare I say it, food poisoning.

Each world cup failure left rugby followers stunned, that the best rugby team in the history of the game could win everything between world cups, but fail miserably when the big one came around. With each consecutive loss, even the staunchest All Black fan began to see some truth in that dreaded chokers tag and each knockout only served to raise the doubts we had that only emerged come world cup time. Truth be told, there are clear arguments that the All Blacks didn't always deserve the favourites title they carried into each world cup, so how could they be accused of choking? Nevertheless, a team as successful as the All Blacks will always be targeted, no matter where they may rank in the world.

George Gregan's painful "4 more years boys"' taunted us in a way that will go down in rugby folklore history. A stunning 2011 home tournament, complete with All Black win laid that ghost to rest, and gave us long suffering fans reason to kick that dreaded chokers tag well and truly into touch.

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