Blue about the All Blacks? Try amplifying the woe

by Toby Manhire / 29 August, 2011
The sardonic wit of the website Wait of a Nation is a useful tonic for the rugby fan's mounting World Cup anxiety.
Oh dear. Oh very dear. That's not normal cloud: a pall is enveloping the proud nation of New Zealand this morning, following the All Blacks’ unexpected defeat on Saturday night to Robbie Deans’ brave Australians.

If you’re feeling the least bit blue, avoid the talkback radio interrogations of the big subjects – such as the national psyche and elbow hyperextensions – and turn instead to Wait of a Nation (“Home of New Zealand’s Crushing Expectation”), a deliciously sardonic rugby website designed to get us all mentally ready for the anguish and agony that will follow an early exit from the World Cup. Think of it as a preparatory hose-down of disappointment.

“Wait of a Nation is here to amplify the woe. It will fixate on and obsess about our World Cup frailties,” the site announces. “Think of it as a virtual lens through which the country can better focus its forbidden, ruinous hope for glory into a destructive force, like a looking glass sharpens the heat of the sun on an ant.”

Wait of a Nation is not solely gloom and gags. There are some pretty interesting statistics, graphs, historical rundowns – all of which illustrates the inescapable truth, that the All Blacks are scintillatingly brilliant pretty much all the time. Apart from at World Cups. They also sell T-shirts, which feature an All Black cowering beneath a map of New Zealand (weight of the nation, geddit?). User instructions: “Wear it in the foetal position.”

I got in touch with the bloke who runs the site, Eammon Conaghan, or “Beak”. In an email (he’s on his honeymoon, since you ask), he said:

I regard it all as a panicking aide. Not that kiwis are bad at panicking but we tend to do all our fretting in silos. It's time to be scared together.

In honesty, though, I've lived abroad most of my life and I've seen NZ get a bad wrap for our rugby too may times. There's a perception out there - perpetuated by rugby journos around the world - that we're petty, entitled, ill-tempered and insular rugby fans.

(On which perception, I humbly refer you to my post of Friday, starring Alastair Campbell dancing the “chokey-choke”.)

I tend to disagree with all those views. NZ is, even if by economic necessity, one of the most unassuming and outward-looking countries in the world, so it annoys me to see the country misrepresented that way. Let's face it, our real national weakness is negativity and pessimism, not arrogance.

I wanted to put a site out there that showed we are actually versatile people who can love the All Blacks and laugh at ourselves at the same time. So Wait of a Nation is here to square the ledger. And it allows us to prod the mental scars of past tournaments while dwelling on the mounting pressure of the next one. That's important too.

As far as ways of dealing with this aspect of The New Zealand Condition, Conaghan’s site is, I reckon, a perfect tonic. Well worth a read, and much wittier than this sort of silliness.

Update, 8 September:
Good to know the National Radio Nine to Noon team are keen readers. Kathryn Ryan's interview with Conaghan is here:
MostReadArticlesCollectionWidget - Most Read - Used in articles
AdvertModule - Advert - M-Rec / Halfpage


The power of an electric cargo bike in Auckland
71804 2017-04-29 00:00:00Z Urbanism

The power of an electric cargo bike in Auckland

by Paperboy

"It’s a way back to the freedom of youth, when kicking around on a bike with friends was one of life’s great joys."

Read more
Politicians aren’t talking to us this election year, but to Winston Peters
71902 2017-04-28 14:08:09Z Politics

Politicians aren’t talking to us this election yea…

by Jane Clifton

We don't want any David Cunliffe cod-bogan attempts to get down with the peeps, but MPs seem to be going way too far in the other direction this year.

Read more
9th Floor: Jenny Shipley on how 'middle class welfare' is morally bankrupt
71856 2017-04-28 09:53:00Z Politics

9th Floor: Jenny Shipley on how 'middle class welf…

by Guyon Espiner

Dame Jenny Shipley on being the first woman Prime Minister, plus coups and coalitions, welfare reform and Winston Peters.

Read more
Win a double pass to exclusive screening of McLaren
71854 2017-04-28 09:39:24Z Win

Win a double pass to exclusive screening of McLare…

by The Listener

McLaren is the definitive tale of New Zealander Bruce McLaren, who created a motor racing empire from his shed.

Read more
Win a double pass to Doc Edge Festival
71847 2017-04-28 09:30:01Z Win

Win a double pass to Doc Edge Festival

by The Listener

Doc Edge Festival is one of Australasia’s premier international documentary film festivals.

Read more
First look: Poké Poké
Health Minister dismisses chocolate fundraiser ban
71842 2017-04-28 09:07:08Z Nutrition

Health Minister dismisses chocolate fundraiser ban…

by RNZ

Should schools be selling chocolate to raise funds? The Health Minister says it's ok, but nutrition experts disagree.

Read more
Film review: Denial
71718 2017-04-28 00:00:00Z Movies

Film review: Denial

by Peter Calder

The dramatisation of a Holocaust denier’s libel suit is both engrossing and moving.

Read more