So, Australia won the pool game against England. And quite convincingly. Rather than there being a referee bias in favour of England as I had predicted, (even, perhaps, accused), it seemed a very fair refereeing job by monsieur Romain Poite (please to prononce as ‘pwat’). My conspiracy theory proved completely groundless. The true, gentlemanly spirit of rugby is alive and well. As pure and clean as the spring snows on Coronet Peak. The ball fell where the ball will fall. A thousand pardons monsieur Bernard Lapasset for challenging your duty of honor.
So what went wrong with my well thought-out theory? Who will ever know, however humour me as I speculate on a hypothetical post-match telephone conversation.
Bernard, it’s Bill
Monsieur Bill, ‘ow are you?
Pretty pissed off actually Bernard. Bloody convicts got a win; we’re out of the tournament. Heads being lined up for the chopping block as we speak. I could be one of them.
Well we ‘ave a guillotine zat we ‘ave not used for a while, but is still in fine working order I understand. Perhaps?
No time for jokes Bernard. I though we had a deal sorted.
A deal monsieur Bill, je ne comprende?
Over a damned decent cognac at the club, Bernard. About the importance of England getting past Australia and into the quarter finals at least; and the fact that one of your mob was refereeing.
I remember well zees pleasant evening monsieur Bill; ze cognac was indeed quite superb; and I fully agreed with you zat zis was very importante for England to win. Such a pity zen zat zey played, ow do you say…..? like a pock of wonkers.
For pete’s sake Bernard, this was serious; this was big money in the Rugby Union’s coffers. We had an understanding; you were supposed to fix this game. You double crossed us.
Fix? Fix a game monsieur Bill? In ze Rugby World Cup? Surely you are not serious?
Come on Bernard, the Japanese Rugby Union were struggling to get the necessary sponsorship and suddenly a bunch of cobbled together Blossoms beat the bloody Saffas and the Sammos. Now the Blossoms are national heroes with sponsors back home queuing up! Are you saying didn’t have a hand in that?
Ah such brave little Blossoms. Zey played so well did zey not?
And with a noticeable penalty advantage. As I counted it Samoa was out-penalised 17 to 4.
Ah yes ze discipline of Blossoms is so excellent; of ze Samoans, perhaps not so good.
And South Africa? Your little Blossoms didn’t get a bit of a helping hand there?
Ah, zis was just a bad day for ze Africaans, but zey recovered, no? still zey qualified. All is ‘appy now?
I don’t give a stuff if the Saffas are happy Bernard, I certainly am far from it.
I am sorry you feel zis way monsieur Bill; I feel zis is a very exciting and successful tournament; and in its own way, England’s loss ‘as added much to ze enjoyment of many fans all around ze world.
Not to put too fine a point on it, Bernard, but over that cognac or three we talked about history; specifically we talked about the quarter finals in Cardiff in 2007; and about a bloody accommodating English ref. Young Barnes, a man of the silk no less, put his whole career and credibility on the line to get your useless frogs into the semis. Everyone knew we put the fix in for France on that one; and now your man couldn’t make a few calls the right way to get us through the pool? He could easily have denied the Aussies’ second try for a forward pass; we get penalised 9 to 5 against us and then, insult to injury, young Farrell gets yellow-carded with ten to go for a marginally mis-timed tackle when that thug Hooper stayed on the paddock after a vicious, pre-meditated, no-arms shoulder charge. Australia winning that game is a bloody travesty of justice, Bernard.
‘istory monsieur Bill? 2007 at Cardiff is not ‘istory to ze French. For France ‘istory is two hundred years ago, last June 18 to be précis, at Waterloo. And a travesty of justice is not from a referee’s whistle. A travesty of justice is five treacherous armies of Europe colluding wiz zat poxy duc de Wellington to defeat ze brave general Bonaparte and zen ‘aving tens of thousands of drunken English barbarian soldiers swarm into Paris, on July 7th to be précis. Zis is ‘istory and zis is travesty of justice to ze people of France, monsieur.
You’re having a laugh, Bernard. Waterloo? This is the twenty bloody first century.
Of course monsieur Bill, as you say I was just ‘aving laugh. I am laughing but truly I am sorry zat England is out of ze tournament. ‘owever I enjoyed dinner and a few drinks with some old rugby friends a few nights ago and one said zat when you called today I should simply say to you: ‘four more years.’ An amusing man is little George, no?
You’re a bastard Bernard.
Perhaps, monsieur Bill, in France we can never be certain. But now I must end zis little chat. I ‘ave to arrange an enquiry about English coaching staff perhaps trying to influence a referee at ‘alf time? We cannot tolerate any ‘int of impropriety, I am sure you agree. Au revoir monsieur Bill.