New Zealand Trying to Shake Off Losses
In recent weeks, a mood of cautious optimism swept through rugby fans and sports analysts in New Zealand. After a year of dismal performances, the All Blacks seem at times to have regained the magic that long powered them to greatness, Pete McKenzie writes in a story published by The New York Times.
Now, some wonder – often in disbelief, and with several caveats – whether that streak might lead them to the highest honour in men’s rugby: winning the World Cup.
“They’re miles ahead of where they were 12 months ago,” said Dylan Cleaver, a veteran rugby analyst and a former sports editor of NZME, a New Zealand media company. With the exception of a devastating defeat to South Africa two weeks ago that underlined the precariousness of their recovery, Cleaver said, “their World Cup preparation could hardly be better.”
The recent victories, setting aside the loss to the Springboks, also represent a partial vindication for Ian Foster, Cleaver said, who will depart after the World Cup. Given the pressure he has dealt with, “How could you not be pleased for him?” he said.
Original article by Pete McKenzie, The New York Times, September 2, 2023.