There is no doubt the Daniel Carter injury story of last weekend will go down as one of the most sensational in all Rugby World Cup history.
For any team to lose its biggest current rugby superstar to injury at the most critical part of the Cup competition is unique and totally despondent for him. And the rest of us.
Other World Cups have had significant injury stories; the Andy Dalton hamstring departure from the All Black team before the first 1987 tournament had even begun was one of them, but nothing quite like the loss of 'Our Dan.'
It is the kind of shock sports story the magnitude of which any true rugby fan might think about and recall in the years ahead just where they exactly were when they first heard the news.
A quiet Kiwi Saturday was suddenly turned on its head from north to south when it filtered out that Carter, who had started that day as a newly announced All Black Test captain, would end it so badly hurt by his groin injury that he would not play again at the tournament.
This is crushing news for Carter but also for the All Black team's prospects for the Rugby World Cup finals. With the release of the 'Carter news' the newshounds and headline writers of our country raced to give the story maximum exposure.
I watched the various TV news bulletins last Sunday night and looked at as many newspapers as I could; the Carter story ran way ahead of any other newsworthy events on the planet.
A couple of things I did notice after reading and listening to those first reports. One came at the Sunday morning press release when the All Black coach Graham Henry, after a few comments about what a great man the injured All Black was, suddenly slipped into classic Headmaster-speak; telling we the media to be 'positive' in reporting how Colin Slade goes as Carter's replacement.
Such proclamations from on high really annoy the heck out of me. After hearing that kind of stern instruction from a position of authority any half-decent reporter ought to tell Mr Henry to go shove-it.
WE of the media can write what we like Sir! If Slade botches it then it will be reported thus. If he plays a blinder we will all report that. I hope. Being dictated to write positive things is not the way to go!
The other main thing about the immediate reporting of the Carter injury actually became funny after we'd become sad. While I feel enormously distressed for the popular Canterbury man, with his perfect David Kirk-like image, suddenly we could find only one word to describe how disappointed we all are for him.
The word 'gutted' roared into prominence.
This is a charged word which has lain dormant and un-used for decades. Now it has suddenly lept onto the front pages of newspapers and TV and radio headlines and into our spoken word.
In a battered dictionary at my place there is no mention of the 'gut' word in relation to a feeling of 'deep disappointment' or anything approaching such a feeling. Yet we Kiwis have somehow adopted the g-word as the new slang way can find to express in an earthy fashion something far deeper.
Being 'gutted' is the adopted word which suddenly seems the only one we have in our vocabulary to reach to, as a description of how we all really feel about what has happened to everyone's favourite son.
Everyone, but everyone suddenly is 'gutted' for Daniel carter.
One Canterbury woman went further. On the TV news on Sunday night she stammered to the camera, 'down here in Christchurch the news was absolutely 'guttering' to us.'
'Guttering?' I think I know what she meant.
The same lady then stammered and swallowed hard on screen, apologised, sobbed and could not continue. Wow!
Imagine how truly upset she'd have been if, in that moment, someone had have mentioned the starving hoards in Africa, or the looming economic downturn, or something really bad like Richie McCaw announcing he was going to play rugby league!
There was more; on the front page of Monday's Dominion-Post a reporter had contacted the wider Carter family in Southbridge, south of Christchurch. Here is a direct quote off the front page; 'The whole Carter family has rallied around the injured star and are keeping in close contact. ..Carter's 81-year-old Nan, Pam Carter, had absolute faith that the team would now win the cup for her grandson. 'I'm gutted. He is absolutely gutted...' she said.
In The Press in Christchurch on the same day Daniel's Dad, Neville, said, under a 'Stay Positive' front page headline, 'To be honest I'm gutted, we all are.'
At least by Monday afternoon the man himself, to the packed press conference in Auckland was not gutted, nor had he found the injury collapse as 'guttering.' Instead our Dan called what had happened on the training field as 'gut-wrenching.'
See? The great man, even off the field, finds it very hard to be predictable.
Last Sunday's other lead news TV item was one which concerned the release of a political poll.
Yes, in case you have forgotten New Zealand has a General Election coming up in a matter of weeks after the conclusion of the Rugby World Cup!
One of the political poll questions which was asked on the news went something like, 'Are you worse off now than you were before?' I immediately related the question to the nation's newly found Rugby World Cup grief.
'How much will the All Blacks be worse off without Dan Carter?' is my rugby version of the same question. And the answer has to be, even in the optimistic world Graham Henry hopes we of the media will now emphasise, that our team will be a lot worse off.
Quite simply Dan Carter, for about the last decade, has been so far ahead of the field as a candidate for the first five-eighths job with the All Blacks his greatness has virtually shut out other top potential five-eighths players from bidding for the same place. Colin Slade is now the chosen backup player who will now become the number in that position for the World Cup.
But I, and I choose my words carefully here, reckon Slade he has been seen to be so far behind Carter's talent, expertise and performance that the gap is alarming. Suddenly our excellent team has a place that looks exposed.
Whether Colin Slade can now slot to a high level in the starting role with the New Zealand team is the big issue. On the surface the team will struggle without the familiar and soothing presence of 'D.C 'in the heat of upcoming battles
Now a summary of my rant here; If the All Black team in the weeks ahead loses a match in the Rugby World Cup (and without Carter, let's face it, that now becomes a more of a chance) and everyone has to go home from the tournament feeling totally despondent, and a TV news camera or a radio mike or a written-word reporter steps in front of you and says 'how do you feel?'
Please say, just to keep me satisfied that New Zealand has its priorities and language totally correct, that 'the game was gut-wrenching to watch; our guys played with real guts, but the guts of the problem was that without Dan Carter they lost the game which was guttering to see. Instead of spinning the ball they should have gone up the guts more. In fact my immediate gut reaction is to say that I'm absolutely gutted!'
That will tell me that underneath the anguish all is really well with the world!
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