Yeah, so most Americans don't have a clue what rugby is except to say "it's like football and soccer," which is wrong--it is more like football and basketball. Nonetheless, in a weekend following one that saw six of the top 10 ranked college teams lose, so did the world of rugby.
Saturday and Sunday mark four matches that make up the quarter-final rounds. Two favorites, Australia and New Zealand both lost their matches by 2 points. The Aussies lost to an injury plaugued English side who are the reigning world champs.
New Zealand lost to France who have been their nemesis twice now in World Cup play. Two world cups past, New Zealand was up 13-0 at half-time only to lose to a more passionate and inspired French side.
Again, this Saturday, New Zealand was up at the half, only to see France creep back in and ultimately win.
To understand what this means to a Kiwi, think of your all time favorite sports team losing the big game, but not just the yearly rivalry, the one that only comes once every four years.
This tough is particulary hard in that it was a quarter final and New Zealand was expected to win.
The bottom line is that the reason the All Blacks have failed to win the World Cup since its inauguration in 1987 is that they play one match in a lackluster fashion (the only exception would be the overtime loss to South Africa in the 1995 World Cup final).
Last World Cup is was a passionless loss to Australia, the World Cup before, to France, and the 1991 Cup to Australia.
There isn't any magic or panacea to fix this problem--they are still undoubtedly the best side in the world--the best team with the most talent. What is lacking is the killer instinct in the matches they assume they will win.
France lost this year's opener to Argentina, but have regained that deep down passion. The killer instinct that says never die. I think the All Blacks were looking to the next round.
The only thing they'll be looking at is other teams on the field.