In 1987, when we first and last held the Webb Ellis Trophy aloft, I was young and healthy and full of dreams. My hair was lush and reached all the way to my forehead and I knew exactly how I was going to be rich, famous and happy.
By 2007 I was forty-mumble, fat and fatigued. My hair had slipped backwards, my eyesight had decayed, and in any case I couldn’t see over my belly. I had the wife and the kids and the mortgage – and I wasn’t doing much good for any of them. I was working like billy-o, coming home late, going out early, eating crap and puffing going up the stairs.
My life was a metaphor for twenty years of All Blacks rugby. All the effort, all the trappings of success, but ultimately missing out on the things that really matter.
But here’s the thing – what if it was the other way around?
What if I am the metaphor for the All Blacks? What if their successes and failures were mirroring mine?
It was me.
It was my fault.
I am to blame.
Let the distance from Eden Park in 1987 to Cardiff in 2007 mark the furthest extent of our Fall from Grace. From Champion to Choker; from Grand Final winner to Quarter Final loser; from the omnipotentiality of youth to the grey drear of middle-age.
The return journey, from Cardiff to Eden Park, is the Road to Redemption.