More Pressure on the ABs then the Wallabies
The beauty of rugby union, that distinguishes it from most other codes, is that the game is played all over the globe at different altitudes, latitudes & longitudes with differing styles & attitudes. To win the World Cup you must be able to adapt to these variances, have good fatigue management and a self-belief by the players that they can win. Both of Australia’s World Cups, 1991 & 1999, were won in the United Kingdom, ironically England’s solo Championship was won in Australia, 2003.
South Africa has won the Cup at home in 1995 & in France 2007; whilst New Zealand has only a home win back in the inaugural Championship of 1987. The 2011 World Cup, starting next month, has once again returned to the shaky Isles and they will be expected to win. The devastation caused by the Christchurch earthquakes (still trembling) caused many Kiwis to believe the Canterbury Crusaders deserved to win the Super 15 trophy, now the Webb-Ellis Cup surely is destined to be theirs.
As a prelude to what many pundits are predicting as the World Cup final, Eden Park hosts the No. 1 & No. 2 world ranked teams, the All Blacks and the Wallabies, this Saturday. This ground is where the Cup final will be held so it is of utmost importance in brinksmanship for the winner. Last week the ABs put 40-points on the Springboks, one more than the Wallabies 39 the week before. The Kiwis also limited the Boks to 7, whereas the Aussies let in 20. However, those stats are like comparing apples with oranges. The Wallabies do have to overcome a 25-year drought in Auckland, but they do have increasing pedigree.
This team has a self-belief like no other, so the fact they are playing at Eden Park will matter little. Key members of this Wallabies outfit include many Reds Super 15 stars: Will Genia, Quade Cooper, James Horwill, Digby Ioane, Scott Higginbotham et al, which beat the Auckland Blues at this ground last June as well as in 2009. Kurtly Beale and the Waratahs won at Eden Park in 2009, so saying no Australian side has won there since 1986 is a little bit erroneous. The so called hoodoo will not be a factor.
Winning in Hong Kong last November has also helped instil a belief that Richie McCaw’s men are not the menacing All Blacks of yester-year and that they are just another opposition team. Obviously a win at this ground is important for both nations eying next month’s World Cup, but there is decidedly more pressure on New Zealand to win than Australia.