Arguing with my Dad is a new occasional column which features Greg Bruce in conversation with his father about sports. This first instalment covers the RWC final…
Dad answered his phone and I asked how his morning was going.
“Yes, yes,” he said, “I got showered and shaved and now I’m on the last of the morning duties.”
There was a long pause.
“Having a poo.”
I immediately confronted him on the wrongness of his prediction last week that the All Blacks would destroy South Africa. Like so many of his improbably confident wrong predictions before it, this one would turn out to have zero effect on his self-belief. My dad has never seen the need for uncertainty. He told me the All Blacks will win the final by 12 points.
“The All Blacks are the form team of the World Cup,” he said. “They haven’t come close to being beaten.”
“What?” I said.
“They haven’t come close to being beaten.”
“That’s crazy. They won by two points against South Africa.”
“Yes, but South Africa didn’t look like beating them.”
It was an astonishing line of argument, even for him. I ran him through some scenarios which could have seen us lose: South Africa had a kickable penalty reversed for a choke tackle, Carter got two shots at a sideline conversion. If it hadn’t been for that…
“If my aunty had balls she’d be my uncle!” he said. “This ‘If’ argument doesn’t cut ice with me!”
“What?” I said. “It’s a two point win. If Habana hadn’t charged early and Carter had missed, then it’s all square.”
He let out an exasperated grunt. He was still on the toilet. “And what,” he said, “if an eagle swooped down onto the field, picked up the ball and flew the whole length of the field and plonked it down under the goalposts and then you saw number 15 on the eagle’s back and you realised it was the Springbok fullback dressed as an eagle?”
Flummoxed by an inability to immediately appreciate the poetry of his madness, I launched a bit of a speech about how games between New Zealand, South Africa and Australia are almost always close.
“Close on the scoreboard,” he said.
The strange and belligerent intricacy with which he argued that South Africa never had a chance of winning, despite the fact they nearly did, was not a surprise to me. In many ways, this has been my life.
Dad’s pub quiz team down the RSA had finished second the night before, a massive improvement. A new team member, Kim, had apparently made a big difference, including some strong contributions on sport. I asked dad how he felt about that. “Fine,” he said. “Having said she’s not too bad, I’m still the mainstay on sport. I’m the one everybody looks to when it’s a question about sport.”
Later in the conversation, he told me: “The only place the Wallabies look like matching the All Blacks is in the loose, with Pocock, Hooper and, uh, ah…”
“Fardy,” I said.
“Farley, isn’t it? Yeah.”
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