Let them eat cake
As the Boks strive to recharge their depleted batteries, they could all go to Ox Nche for carb-loading advice
A British rugby fan bet £1,000 that England and the All Blacks would face each other at the Stade de France in the Rugby World Cup final.
The punter was either brave — if you believe in British pluck (cue the Blitz, 1940) — or simply crass, if the UK’s much-discussed cost of living crisis is not a crisis for everyone.
“Those odds nearly came in,” the breathless fan wrote in The Guardian’s comments section the morning after England lost to the Boks, prompting another reader to reply that the amount of money that has “almost” been won from gambling “must be unimaginable”.
“I’ll bet it’s loads,” said a third wag, quicker off the mark than an English rugby forward.
It would take an even braver or exceedingly more stupid person to bet £1,000 on who will win Saturday’s final — which, it turns out, will be between the All Blacks and the Boks.
Bookies have the All Blacks as close-call favourites to win at 4/6, but the Boks are tipped evens to hold onto the trophy. As much as national pride and intense rivalry are at stake, it would behove those caught up in a gambling hot flush to check the ballistics.
New Zealand’s semifinal against Argentina had all the flavour of a friendly invitational in terms of the effort it took the All Blacks to romp home.
South Africa’s slog against England, on the other hand, felt like trench warfare from the Battle of the Somme, at least in the second half: the rain, the mud, the endless pushing, mauling, rucking, drowning ...
Rugby at this level is like boxing but with more pugilists and the gloves off, cage-fighting with a bit more space
Rugby at this level is like boxing but with more pugilists and the gloves off, cage-fighting with a bit more space.
The Springboks are hardly likely to be rested by kickoff time at 9pm on Saturday. They are depleted after last weekend’s battle and the epic game against France the week before. Handré Pollard’s iciness and Ox Nche’s irresistible, cake-fuelled gravitas may not be enough this weekend.
But then there is the wild card: a triumph of the spirit in which the Boks might be carried to victory on a wave of sheer willpower flowing from the (temporarily united) Lucky Country.
Meanwhile, in facing England on Friday to decide who comes third, Argentina — racked with economic woes and unruly politics and sorely in need of a victory in something — may get to extract a bit of revenge for an earlier humiliation in the South Atlantic.
Blowing £1,000 even as the world shuffles closer to conflagration might not be completely out of whack with the times, then. Those whom the gods wish to destroy, they first make mad.
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