I love rugby. I am less keen on hype around rugby, in particular spending time, energy and lots of words predicting what will happen in the next game. In the end the scribes and commentators have no idea what will happen. The game is where the action is and where the result gets decided.
I love my country and would like to see our team win the World Cup. But the widespread anxieties about this increasingly mean that we need to win the thing so we can stop talking about not winning the thing, rather than win the Cup for the sake of winning the Cup!
I imagine few overseas readers will understand the importance of rugby to our country since only New Zealand and Wales have rugby as their dominant national game. I sometimes think that the All Blacks are our Manchester United and our whole population (minus the few who say, "I can't stand rugby") are its fanatical club supporters.
Are there connections between the All Black squad and our Anglican church? Well, the connections that are there are not well advertised. I can think of one player regularly worshipping in an Anglican church. Another player is the nephew of one of our priests. A photo shot on the news last night showed another player when he played for his Anglican school 1st XV. Readers here may know of other connections!
The more important question theologically at this time is whether we may or should pray for victory for the All Blacks. Tonight, for example, on whose side will the Lord be? The All Blacks play Tonga, a nation with a very strong connection between church (largely Methodist) and society (I imagine at some point the Tongan players will gather on the pitch for a prayer). The cynic might say that whoever is praying for whom the Tongan team does not have a prayer (i.e. cannot win)!
On the whole I think we should pray for the All Blacks to win the Cup. Pastorally we have the most to gain in terms of healing of past memories and receiving of future peace. Why would the Lord not wish to grant such blessing to our benighted nation?