In a case of terrible timing, one set of The Boys are playing at the same time as the other set of The Boys on Saturday night. Which to watch? Alex Braae assesses the options.
7.30pm. Saturday 8 September. The room looks on as you hold the TV remote in an iron grip, visibly sweating over the choice you have to make. Will it be the All Blacks vs Argentina? Or the Warriors vs the Panthers?
The beauty of sport is that while you can guess the chances of something happening on the field, you never know when a surprise is about to be sprung. It could be a tiny moment of individual brilliance, a record about to be set, an upset win, a streaker, a moment of utter despair. Watching sport is the same – every game you sit down to balances the potential rewards of being entertained and enthralled, with the potential risks of wasting two hours watching grown men fight like Emperor Penguins over a small egg. Two stories will remain unwritten at 7.30, but you can only watch one of them unfold.
So which should it be? Fortunately, we’ve got a handy head-to-head guide to see which will be more worth watching.
Chance of a game that upsets the tournament context
The All Blacks are playing Argentina in the Rugby Championship, a tournament in which the All Blacks are already a long way ahead of the chasing pack after just two rounds. The overwhelming likelihood is that the All Blacks will have the 6-round Rugby Championship wrapped up with a game in hand by the end of the month. All in all, it’s a pretty insipid competition from a neutral perspective – the All Blacks have won every competition bar one since 2012.
By contrast, the Warriors come into their NRL post-season in 8th on the competition ladder. It’s a must-win game for them to keep their surprisingly successful season alive, and if they do, there’s an outside chance of a fairytale finals run. The team also hasn’t made the playoffs since 2011, so these sorts of moments are rare.
Verdict: Definitely watch the Warriors if you want to see the script get flipped.
Chance of being able to obnoxiously flaunt your patriotism
This one is really about whether you define your identity in terms of what you’re for, or what you’re against. The All Blacks are indisputably New Zealand’s national sporting team. Forget everything else, if there is one defining sporting marker of Kiwi identity, it’s the All Blacks. And playing Argentina doesn’t really fire the blood that much – there’s not really any good reason to passionately hate them.
But the Warriors are the New Zealand team that has to take on the entirety of Australia year in, year out. As the only professional New Zealand club in a sport that constantly belittles this proud country, they’re our best chance of poking the Aussies in the eye on their own turf. Don’t kid yourself – Australians don’t care that the All Blacks thrashed the Wallabies twice in a row last month. But they would mind a lot about a New Zealand team that took their NRL trophy back over the Tasman.
Verdict: Search your heart on this one. Are you a loudmouthed bully, or an insecure jerk?
Chance of tasting bitter defeat, if you’re into that sort of thing
Warriors fans are known for sticking by their team through the good, the bad, the ugly, the amateur, the woeful, the terrible, the poor, and the pathetic. We just don’t know how modern All Blacks fans would respond to losing a match that actually matters, because it hasn’t happened in so long.
Verdict: If you’ve ever had a masochistic streak, the Warriors are your team.
Chance of seeing a length-of-the-field try being scored
This is the bread and butter of the modern All Blacks. They’re willing to fling the ball around from practically their own line, counter-attack from anywhere, and have the backs (and loose forwards) to actually keep the flow of a phase going once they get started. And because of the more structured nature of League, these sorts of events just don’t seem to happen quite so often.
Verdict: If you want 15 seconds of strangled voices shouting “Go! Go! Go!” followed by what sounds like a painful orgasm, definitely watch the All Blacks.
Chance of hearing a commentator yell something stupid like ‘boomfa’
If Justin Marshall is on the rugby call, there’s always a chance. But then again, Australian commentators.
Verdict: A plague on both their houses.
There are precious few chances to jump on as good a bandwagon as the Warriors in the NRL playoffs. The All Blacks will probably be strong favourites for every game they play between now and the heat death of the universe, but it’s perfectly possible the Warriors will never crack the top eight ever again. Don’t miss this rare opportunity.
Or, you could just jack them both in and watch snow dog movie Eight Below on TV2. 72% on Rotten Tomatoes – just saying.
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The Bulletin is The Spinoff’s acclaimed daily digest of New Zealand’s most important stories, delivered directly to your inbox each morning.