Bevan Rapson: Hard to knock Welsh for sobbing

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Wales fans show their emotions after the defeat to France. Photo / Getty Images
Wales fans show their emotions after the defeat to France. Photo / Getty Images

Rudyard Kipling had the right idea about triumph and disaster. He reckoned that to be a man you had to "treat those two imposters just the same".

So, how are we all matching up to the Kiplingesque ideal this morning?

I know the Wales fans singled out by the TV cameras after Saturday night's loss to France weren't keeping much of a stiff upper lip. Their facepaint was running, tears coursing through the dragons and emblems painted on so lovingly a few hours before.

And it's hard to blame them. For the first time in this tournament we were all short-changed: reducing Wales to 14 men skewed a match that had all the makings of a classic.

It was still compelling viewing as Wales bravely tried to overcome the disadvantage. And the result was short of a travesty: Wales were defeated as much by their inability to win their own lineouts and their flirting with the sideline as they were by the disparity in numbers. Fitter and technically superior, they couldn't quite seize their chances.

But the red-card system is wrong. Why should an entire game be disfigured by one player's momentary lapse? When a player is sent off, he should be replaced from the bench after 20 minutes.

If Sam Warburton's tackle was so clearly a red-card offence it can't have been truly intentional. On the face of it, the ref had to think only of his review panel, not the spectacle he would derail.

But the other man involved had a chance to be a hero for the ages. If Vincent Clerc had bounced to his feet, gone straight to the referee and pleaded for him not to send the Welshman off, he would have lived up to rugby's highest ideals.

Instead, we got more than a hint of Hollywood. The lying prone is compulsory, the cheesy hand to the face a giveaway. It was professional and well rewarded. Kipling would not have approved.

Let's hope the supporters of both semifinal losers can recover. Wandering up Queen St on Saturday it was obvious that being knocked out of this World Cup so far hasn't meant a team's supporters need to miss out on the rest of the party.

Lots of fans were still proudly clad in the colours of teams other than the semifinalists: plenty of South Africans in relatively good cheer (it's sometimes hard to tell with them); Englishmen, forging on sociably; cars still festooned with Samoan flags; and a festive smattering of Irish, including one individual wandering along a traffic lane juggling a ball on his hurling stick. He looked like he had his own personal soundtrack of fiddly-diddly music playing in his head - and not a care in the world.

- NZ Herald

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