Huh? Just about everyone suddenly loves the England rugby team. Seriously.

This is a very odd day in the history of New Zealand sport.

Okay, love might be too strong a word. But they are extremely impressed. As a colleague just said to me: "It's like the world turned upside down."

People are walking around saying things like: "Did you see England? Jeeeeeeeez. Scary.".


A bloke just walked past me going: "We've lost the World Cup."

Message to England rugby — your victory over Ireland has been met with stunned admiration in this part of the world. It will also bring a lot of fear and skepticism about the state of the All Blacks to the surface, before a ball has been kicked in Super Rugby.
Bring it on. This is magic.

England's victory is a glorious way to kick off a World Cup year, giving it instant focus and a feeling that the tournament in Japan will be a torrid battle between a moderately sized group of contenders.

And the thought of England actually winning the World Cup causes as much alarm in this part of the world as the thought of New Zealand losing the crown.

Suddenly, England are a huge factor.

Eddie Jones was supposed to be dead and buried as a coach, his obsessive personality having worn his own team down. Instead, he re-emerges in style with England dropping the Six Nations champions in a heap and everyone else's jaw dropping in surprise.

Everyone is doing those crazy sums. England should have beaten the All Blacks last year.

Ireland did beat the All Blacks. England have now beaten Ireland in Dublin. England went on a try scoring spree in Dublin whereas the All Blacks didn't.


Sum total: It's all over. We've lost the World Cup.

This will sound patronising, but we don't hand out praise to England rugby teams easily in this part of the world. To be more accurate, we don't hand out praise to England rugby teams at all. English rugby represents something we can't stand, although I'm not totally sure what it is.

Even if England play very well, we won't admit it. Indeed, many people would claim that England have never played very well.

"England were okay BUT"...that's how they rate on a very good day.

We'd rather lose to Australia — that's how much we don't like England. Yet I've run into so many people this morning who were blown away by England's performance against Ireland and happy to admit it.

All that muscle, all those tries.

Commentators like the former All Black Murray Mexted are seriously impressed, acknowledging for the first time publicly that England are a World Cup contender. That's big for Mex. Grant Nisbett said something similar.

Sports jock Mark Watson thought England would have beaten the All Blacks by 20 points — "based on this game overnight we ain't got a s*** show in hell (of winning the World Cup)."

Veteran sports host Martin Devlin thought England's victory in Dublin was "the single most impressive test performance of the last 12 months".

It has been a very weird day.