Swanny’s World of Sport - Simply the best, or was it?

New Zealand captain Richie McCaw lifts the Webb Ellis Cup.
New Zealand captain Richie McCaw lifts the Webb Ellis Cup.
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It was the best Rugby Union World Cup of all time, won by the best team of all time, who were skippered by the best player of all time.

It was also refereed by the best official of all-time and no doubt the caviar in the posh seats at Twickenham was better than it’s ever been.

Hype irritates me, especially when it’s delivered TV commentator-style as though there can be no argument. Let’s accept that administrators keen to justify enormous expense and commentators in love with their own screaming voices are not in tune with public opinion, well not my opinion at least.

Comparisons between eras are futile anyway.

I have to admit this Rugby Union World Cup was a fine spectacle once boring, boring England had departed.

But it delivered a predictable winner (even I told you six weeks ago that New Zealand would win at a canter and I follow rugby union as closely as I follow Strictly Come Dancing) and a predictable final (only three teams ever had a realistic chance of getting there).

It went on too long (bizarrely Sir Clive Woodward, who had a great World Cup in the Daily Mail until tipping Australia to win the final, wants the next competition to be even longer), and there were too many grey areas, and blatant inconsistency, with officials who often appeared to go out of their way to favour the Southern Hemisphere sides.

But fans and pundits fell over themselves to go into hyperbolic overdrive and deify everyone involved.

Some reckon the current All Blacks are the greatest sporting side ever, never mind the greatest rugby union side. It’s hard to justify that statement in a sport restricted to so few countries.

It’s not quite as bad as Americans calling their national champions ‘world champions’ but it’s not far off.

Dominant the All Blacks undoubtedly are, but, as an example off the top of my big head, Brazil’s Football World Cup-winning side of 1970 were better against far stiffer opposition.

All Blacks captain Ritchie McCaw was lauded as the ‘greatest rugby union player of all time’ after the 2015 World Cup finally finished which is of course nonsense.

McCaw’s longevity should be applauded, but how on earth do you compare players in different positions never mind different eras?

McCaw is a forward. I doubt watching him do his donkey work is a priority for any fan in the same way few went to watch Manchester United’s exciting class of 92 just to see Gary Neville carry out his full-back duties with impressive consistency.

I’m pretty sure the likes of Phil Bennett and David Campese were bigger crowd-pullers and they were perhaps fortunate they performed in the days when every player in every position didn’t have to be at least 18 stone to get picked.

Sport shouldn’t just be about pace and power. There should always be room for flair and finesse.