Sunday morning's one-hour-delayed telecast did not start well. The commentator's words chilled me: "New Zealand has only failed at this hurdle once before."
Those words chilled me because I was there at that failed hurdle. Well, when I say there, I don't mean in Cardiff but I was in France and, anyway, the quarter-final was surely a mere formality on the way to the 2007 final at the magnificent Stade de France, a structure that looks like a gargantuan UFO sitting astride a suburban landscape.
So, our group hadn't bothered with a pesky side trip to Wales. Instead we booked out half an inn in the Loire Valley. We didn't choose it for gastronomic reasons; we chose it because it was showing the Cardiff game on a big screen.
Here, in the picturesque French valley, this establishment was peopled by about 50 per cent Kiwis in black and 50 per cent beret-bearing French folk in blue. We would have all the live excitement we needed.
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The food (main course – tongue with mustard) certainly didn't excite but that wasn't our focus. Our focus was winning the quarter-final and savouring the experience alongside our adversaries.
By half-time (13-3 to the All Blacks), the mood was cautiously optimistic but there was a faint chill in the air. A foreboding, perhaps. And I hadn't even eaten all my tongue.
Into the second half and the Loire-based Kiwi contingent started exchanging glances. Some lost their tongue. The worried faces said it all. Could it happen? Was the tongue main course going to become the highlight of the evening?
The bereted blue corner was in full voice and when the final whistle blew (20-18 to France) they threw everything into the air: their arms; their berets; their baguettes; escargots.
The Kiwi contingent just stared at each other in disbelief. That hadn't happened! Had it?
English language is full of incorrigible verbal atrocities
Wyn Drabble: Retail encounter leaves me deflated
But no amount of tongue-in-cheek could wash away the taste. All we could do was drink more Loire Valley wine and I must say they produce a very good drop. To complement the tongue, you could choose from any number of tingling whites but none would kill the taste of tongue.
On grand final night, Paris was vibrantly abuzz. Its population had been bolstered by the planeloads of South Africans flying in at the last minute.
They had obviously lacked the confidence to book flights before the event but now they came in droves. South African Airways must have suffered a booking bombshell.
And on city streets, the wagging tongues suddenly produced more South African vowels than New Zealand ones. It was almost a very discernible change.
Many dejected Kiwis still went to the (very expensive) final but many others sold their seats. All they had to do was walk into the lobby of their hotel and hold their tickets aloft.
From the ensuing maul would emerge a couple of proud South Africans clutching their newfound tickets to glory.
So, when the quarter-final commentator began with those words, I was worried by all the memories which came flooding back.
But I needn't have worried. The ABs put on a stunning display and perhaps part of the reason for their success was that they all wore matching boots instead of the usual hotchpotch of orange and blue and yellow and white.
A less tongue-in-cheek reason was perhaps that they managed to – and here I'm going to quote the commentator as accurately as I can – "crade obtunedees".
Now, all they have to do is repeat the performance against what will be a stronger foe.
For that telecast, I'll need to get food and drink in but I'll give tongue a miss.
Perhaps saveloys with tomato sauce will do the trick.
Wyn Drabble is a teacher of English, a writer, musician and public speaker.