James Mortimer 10.Dec.2012Getty Images
Both agreed that perhaps the final Test of the season was a bridge too far, citing a combination of fatigue, the illness that caught the team off guard while in London, combined with an England team that ‘had nothing to lose’ against the World Champions.
Fitzpatrick wrote in the NZ Herald that notable figures in past England setups said that it was a combination of two factors – poor performance from the All Blacks and a game from the Red Rose that few predicted.
“I watched England's good old-fashioned walloping of the All Blacks last weekend with Sir Clive Woodward and former England centre Will Greenwood,” Fitzpatrick wrote.
“They were both gobsmacked and said they didn't think the English team had it in them.”
“They (also) said they had never seen the All Blacks play so badly.
Fitzpatrick felt that England had earned the victory, even if they had more than a hint of All Blacks about them, while he said that one day didn’t change the status quo.
“They (England) simplified things, settled on a more basic game plan, pretty much doing what the All Blacks do -the basics, performed to a high degree,” the former hooker said.
While Fitzpatrick said that he thought coach Steve Hansen and captain Richie McCaw were diplomatic after the loss, saying England were too good on the day, he did feel that it was important to acknowledge the All Blacks were potentially off their game.
“We shouldn't, in making that gesture, totally ignore the effects of a long season, one foot on the plane, the virus and all of that. I am sure those factors played a part somehow, somewhere,” he said.
Fitzpatrick said that the team would benefit, and that there was no need for any dramatic changes.
“As for the All Blacks, I am sure they will benefit from that. None of the younger guys will have played in a match of that intensity, with the opponents coming at them that hard and fast and it will do them good in the long run,” he said.
“There's no need for panic or wholesale changes.”
“England did the job on the day and the All Blacks, being who they are, will be working very hard to make sure the coming days belong to them.
Randell, writing for Fairfax Media, said that Kiwis should be proud of their team.
“The All Blacks will be stewing over the season-ending loss to England but that result doesn't suddenly make 2012 a bad year,” the former flanker said.
“In fact, I'd argue that as a whole, everyone in New Zealand rugby would have to be very happy with the way the year has played out.”
Randell suggested the momentum for the All Blacks started early in Hamilton, and said that they overcame their greatest fear for 2012 – suffering what some regard as the historic World Cup hangover.
“Looking back over the season, the All Blacks managed to side-step the drop-off in performance that so often comes in the wake of World Cup victory,” he said.
“The year started superbly with the Chiefs' historic Super Rugby title and just got better.
He felt there was no shortage of highlights.
“The 60-nil blitzing of Ireland was extraordinary at times and it doesn't come much better than blanking the Wallabies as New Zealand did with their 22-nil win to secure the Bledisloe Cup at Eden Park,” Randell said.
“A 54-15 scoreline against the Pumas in Argentina to secure the inaugural Rugby Championship was pretty special, too.”
“But I thought the 32-16 slamming of the Springboks in Soweto stood out as the best win of the year. Travel- weary and down 16-12 at the break, the All Blacks went up another gear in the second half with a sublime 40 minutes to hammer home their world champion status."