Pressure to succeed shown up close

The timing was odd, but it was definitely worth the wait.

A documentary called Weight of a Nation covered the buildup and ultimate Rugby World Cup victory last year for the All Blacks.

New Zealand audiences are not used to sports documentaries about our own stars, let alone ones done in such a stylistic fashion.

Above all, it featured our best rugby players and coaches showing what they don't normally: emotion.

A point that was really hammered home was the vice-like pressure the players were under to deliver the World Cup, the turmoil the injury toll took and how the momentum ahead of the final was all with France.

At the time of the 8-7 win in October last year, the overwhelming sense of relief almost overshadowed the achievement.

The All Blacks were dominant throughout the tournament and were, in the eyes of many, destined to destroy France in the final and claim what was rightfully theirs.

The result may have come, but the documentary showed just how close it really was. And what would have happened if the French managed to slot a late dropped goal or penalty?

As coach Graham Henry said: Would he and his wife Raewyn have to leave the country?

Rather than be an all "guts and glory" production, the doco also managed to weave in other aspects, such as the sacrifices the players made, the impact the Canterbury earthquakes had on everyone, as well as the love and pride of the fans.

Above all, it showed a rare human side to our most beloved sports team. It showed that they had fear, they had pain and they knew what was on the line.

Who would have thought that they'd see tears welling up in current coach Steve Hansen's eyes, or Henry's, or captain Richie McCaw's when he was being presented his cap for 100 matches from the late Jock Hobbs?

It might have taken more than a year to get ready, but the documentary would have given fans a new appreciation of the effort and dedication made by our men in black.

Having natural disasters strike close to Christmas seem to be more devastating as the time of year is meant to be about togetherness and sharing. The terrible cyclone that hit Samoa and Fiji and other Pacific islands has been a brutal reminder of nature's fury. It is also a good reminder for everyone to have a reality check for themselves and appreciate what they do have in life. New Zealand has strong ties with our Pacific neighbours, so we should dig deep to help in their extreme time of need.

Manawatu Standard