The expat on the experts…

It being the day after the weekend before and this being an English guy living in South Africa’s blog, it’s not like I can get away without mentioning the rugby. Yes, after a dramatic weekend, England will play South Africa in the RWC final next Saturday. It’s big news here. Really big. It’s also got me a bit confused after that quote from Jake White, SA coach last Monday:

frontsm
Cape Argus, Monday 8th October

I’m not sure England will agree to his demands. Really. Why should he get to choose anyway?
But in fact, most of South Africa thinks that they’ve already won the damn thing. And why not? After all, they comprehensively beat England in the group stages. Not that previous results apparently count for a lot, as France beat England twice just weeks before the tournament, but er… didn’t in the semi-final.In fact, if you listened to the pundits, England’s World Cup was over almost before it began.
After struggling past the USA and then losing to South Africa, you could have been forgiven for imagining that England were already out.
Finishing second in their group, claimed the experts – if they even managed to get past Samoa and Tonga – would only result in a quarter final defeat against Australia. It was a lost cause anyway.
To cut a long story short, England beat Samoa and Tonga, finished second in their group and then also beat Australia.
Oops. The back-tracking rugby gurus hastily re-revised their positions. England would instead crash out against the New Zealand All Blacks in the semi finals. All good – except of course that New Zealand didn’t even make the semis – France beat them to claim that spot.
But we must have misheard – because France would obviously beat England in the Saturday semi final – believe it, because it’s true – even Jake said so. It was in the Cape Argus. But – as history now shows – they didn’t.

In actual fact, I don’t claim to be an expert in rugby. It’s a silly game.
However, I’ve lost my shirt by incorrectly predicting football matches often enough – I now know better than to stick my rooinek out.
And although I will be cheering for England on Saturday, I have the best of both worlds: If England win, I’m delighted – home country and all that; and if the Boks win, I’m still pretty happy – home country and all that. And yes, I will join in the party.
I’m often amazed that I encounter a fair amount of hostility for supporting England while living here. It’s not like South Africans in London give up supporting the Boks just cos they live in the UK. And Putney’s got more Saffas than Durban.
No, there is some corner of a foreign field that is forever England – and it just so happens to be in my back garden in Cape Town. Right next to the birdbath.

My only hope is that it’s a decent game, despite all that’s at stake. And that relies on Jake White admitting that he was completely wrong in his “expert” prediction and not trying to stick to his guns and targeting French icon Sebastien Chabal for special treatment.
He’ll be watching the final at home with his girlfriend, Mimi. Or something.
The last thing they want is Schalk Burger mistakenly crashing through the kitchen door and knocking over the bowl of snails on the coffee table.

That’s the last thing anyone wants, right?