Congratulations to New Zealand, winners of the 2011 Rugby World Cup! It was not exactly convincing, but as with majoritarian elections (like NZ used to have), a win is a win, no matter the margin. The score of the final match was 8-7.
Such a close final could not have been predicted from each team’s performance in prior games of the tournament. The average score for New Zealand’s previous matches was 48.8-10.8. That’s dominance. For France, it was only 25.3-19.3.
France had squeaked by in its semi-final, 9-8 over Wales. NZ had trounced Australia in its semi-final, 20-6, although that was “close” compared to the All Blacks’ previous games, such as 79-15 over Canada and 83-7 over Japan. Or even the previous meeting with France, 37-17.
Meanwhile, the USA was outscored in pool play, 28-122 (including a humiliating 67-5 at the hands of the Australian side). It occurs to me that the US should be better at this game, but its potential rugby talent is being put to other use. Unfortunately, if you ask me. It is hard for me to imagine that rugby would not be popular here, and this country would not be a power in the sport, if not for the development of the game known today as American “football” instead. Path dependency, dear readers. Path dependency!
(Scores and more at http://www.rugbyworldcup.com.)