Now I know why they call it ‘the final’.
For 12 months the Wallaby juggernaut slowly gathered pace until, during the last week of the World Cup, it seemed to be hurtling almost inevitably toward rugby’s ultimate prize.
Then, we lost, and there was overwhelming finality on almost every front.
The highly organised and strategic effort which was responsible for the team being within one match of glory suddenly ceased.
The media frenzy became a dribble of polite enquiries, there was no further meetings, analysis or training, the players disappeared with family or in groups to process the result, staff began to pack and within 36 hours almost everyone (and everything) was on a flight back to Australia.
Meanwhile, New Zealand’s World Cup story is still being written, by now probably in an illegible drunken scrawl.
I said last week that I had never wanted a Wallaby team to win as much as I did on Saturday.
As Tevita Kuridrani finished off Will Genia and Bernard Foley’s fine lead-up work to put Australia four points down with 15 minutes to go, I realised I had been screaming; ‘Go T’ into the back of the camera as I was shooting. A reaction which was quite unprofessional, but completely involuntary.
Spending two months with the squad meant I was hugely invested in the result but, strangely, I think I would have struggled more to keep it together had they won.
When it became apparent New Zealand were going to triumph I almost went on to auto pilot. The players were completely shattered, and I was shattered for them, but I still had to tell the end of the story.
I think in the event of a Wallaby win it would have been very difficult to keep a lid on it.
I’ve now flown back to Melbourne, shot a job involving people who scarcely knew what a Rugby World Cup was and travelled a day by train and car to the tiny rural community where my parents live.
When I began compiling this post yesterday it felt completely surreal to think of all that happened at Twickenham less than a week ago.
Despite the loss, and as I said on my Facebook page the day after the final, this squad has allowed Australia to love their Wallabies again.
The players will inevitably feel flat this week, but I believe the overwhelming emotion among fans is not disappointment, but pride.
The squad won friends everywhere it went over the past two months with its on and off-field actions – there are a few impending retirements – but the future looks much brighter than it did a year ago.
I feel very fortunate to have been there to record a period of this resurgence and many people have been kind enough to say my coverage enabled them to also feel they were a part of it.
There were many aspects to this project, but delivering a more personal insight into the day-to-day activities of the Wallabies was certainly one of its main goals.
Many of the images in this post mean re-living the disappointment of the final but, unfortunately, that’s how this story ends.
The encouraging thing for fans of the jersey is it looks like there will be many more positive chapters in the immediate future.
Car’n the Wallabies!
This is my ninth and final image post as official photographer for the Wallabies during the 2015 World Cup. Click the links to view visuals from;
… or check out my time lapse video of the semi-final win over Argentina by clicking here.