Why It Will be Hard for the All Blacks to Win the World Cup

I’m not going to say that the All Blacks will “never” win another world cup, but I’ll outline a very simple reason why it will be extremely difficult for them to win it ever again.

In 1987, the inaugural Rugby World Cup kicked off with a bang. The All Blacks won, and whilst the home ground advantage was there, it is more in the mind set of the players that enable them to win. Don’t worry, I tend to scoff at those who place high importance on the psychological area of player mentality and it’s affect on their performance. But it is clear, that in 1987, the expectation had a positive outlook upon it.

You see, in 1987, at the very first Rugby World Cup, the players thought patterns would have been; “We are the best team, therefore we will win this world cup”. We came up with the idea, we pushed for it to happen, and we hosted it.

Everyone knew that the All Blacks are the best side in the world, and so it was expected of them to win

, without any pressure, as there was no doubting that they would win.

But the time 1991 rolled around, the mentality had shifted. You see, as they were still undoubtedly the best rugby team, there was pressure for the All Blacks to repeat the results of ’87 – to win the cup again. This made the mindset slightly different: “We are the best team, we need to win this world cup”. The key difference is a negative connotation around the word “need” in this mindset. You see, in ’87, it was “We will win”, providing a positive base. In ’91, it was “We can’t afford to lose, we need to win”, which automatically put the pressure onto the players, by the public, and also by the players themselves.

In 1995, we came close.

If food poisoning hadn’t invaded the team, it might have been a different result.

But at the same time, local support for the South Africans, and the whole rallying behind Nelson Mandella, meant that the South Africans had positive pressure behind them to win. Had we won, it would have relieved the built up pressure from the last 8 years.

In all the following Rugby World Cup’s, the pressure has continued, and in fact, will continue to grow each time we come to a World Cup. We have become (even if we can’t see it ourselves) the chokers of the Rugby World when it comes to the big time matches. George Gregan put it aptly to Byron Kellehar in the 2003 World Cup Semi Final verse Australia – his “Four More Years” rings in our ears constantly. We lost that match 10 – 22. This year will be no exception.

The pressure has built over the last 24 years. That’s 24 years of broken expectations, burst hopes and crushed dreams, all weighing in on the All Blacks.

Should they find themselves down by 15 points in the second half of the semi finals again, one can’t help but think that they’ll be focussing on “We can’t afford to lose this again”, rather than thinking “We’re world beaters, and we’ll win this match”.

Additional to this, is the fact that because every team knows that the All Blacks are the best team in the world, they opposing players tend to play like men possessed, putting every ounce of energy and effort in order to beat the best team in the world. For the All Blacks, once again, they have to look negatively at the match, with the expectation that they should win considering they are the better team. This creates an imbalance, and the advantage goes to the team who are playing with all their hearts to win.

Needless to say I will be jumping for joy should we win the Final this year. And be writing a humble explanation as to why I was wrong in this post!

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