So the ABs are a historically successful team, and have been for some time. ...
And now it seems they have attracted the scorn of pundits and fans around the world. ... their nefarious tactics (eye gouging, niggle off the ball, constantly infringing), their cozy relationship with referees, issues with 'attitude' and 'entitlement' (eg shagging birds in disabled toilets), and a general longing from most fans that they will flat out lose.
Here is my theory, and maybe it's stating the bleeding obvious... this treatment isn't so much to do with the ABs, in fact it happens to most, if not all, historically successful teams.
Admittedly I don't have a huge number of examples to support this, but here are a few off the top of my head:
Australian cricket team of the early 2000s - set the record for consecutive test wins, and the 'hard edge' they were lauded for early in Steve Waugh's reign became a lightning rod for criticism. They attracted a pretty solid opposition around the world for boorish tactics (esp from Hayden, McGrath, Warne, Ponting, Waugh).
I see it all in fairly simple terms - it is child-like jealousy which deserves to be ignored.
When your favority fave isn't good enough, when your "arguably on paper best in the world" isn't, you make stuff up about the other mob. Discovering ESPN-like data bases is especially helpful as are 7 second video clips proving habitual cheating cheatery by everyone other then our lot. That is, if you are a shrill 14 year old who has no idea how it feels to have your face buried in the cricket pitch, top dressed for winter with more gravel than loam, laid by the local council's lowest tenderer.
It doesn't only emanate from the game's infant supporters. I recall walking across the car park to the Sydney Cricket Ground in the early '90s, in grand anticipation of seeing the Springboks in action here for the first time in twenty years. I was with the Eastwood Club crew - our Marty Roebuck was at full back and his protégé Matt Burke was on the threshold of Wallaby selection. Listening to a couple of older blokes I couldn't believe their vitriol towards the Springboks.
It took me a while to work that out. It was not the apartheid issue, the Springboks hadn't done anything wrong. It came down to envy of the Springboks' past success.
"Until the 1990s South Africa were considered one of the most successful rugby nations in Test match history, with a positive win-loss ratio against every Test playing nation including their traditional rivals, New Zealand. (from Wikipedia)"
This also highlights the fact that people forget that the game goes through cycles. It took fifty years for the All Blacks to win a series over there on their turf.
Just last week I listened to an interview of Michael Cheika by Graeme Hughes, Peter Tunks and Brett Papworth on Hughes' Talkin' Sport radio program. Cheika said that most of the Wallabies have little knowledge of what and who went before them and that he was attempting to educate them with his high regard for the traditions of the game. You'd reckon profit motive alone would have players studying footage of Little's beautifully balanced running, and of where Poidevin and David Wilson were running to and what they did when they got there.
If the fans' attitudes cannot mature into an appreciation of the marvelous Blanco, the superiority of Porta, Michael Jones and Teichmann and the craft of Castrogiovanni - and of the excellence of the All Blacks - they are denying themselves an affection for all that the game offers. They are choosing to be miserable for long periods of their time following rugby.
"I don't have a huge number of examples to support this"
I'm flat out finding any. The ruthless Australian XI under the best captain I have seen, the demanding Ian Chappell, didn't cop any of this jealousy, nor did Clive Lloyd's exceptional West Indies.
Chappelli's team got away with more than Steve Waugh's lot, who plied their trade in the modern era when whinging about excellence became de rigueur. They also got plenty from the politicking anti-sport mob who reckon young blokes must cease on field bullying, that they should attend cooking classes and stand aside to let wymminses past them and into the best jobs.
St George weren't hated during their dozen or so rugby league premiership years, they were held in awe. Brisbane Broncos weren't much liked but that was more about interstate rivalry I believe.
My only example is Greg Norman, who rocketed to the top and didn't pay homage en route to the Aussie rat pack of Shearer, Newton, Davis and others. He stood aloof, singularly focused and successful and was criticised for it. That continued through his best years, notwithstanding that he did more to promote Australian golf than any player before him or since. Attacks by the media and fans accusing him of "choking" were a bloody disgrace. I feel similarly about the same accusation against the All Blacks in the World Cup. Other golfers / teams were better on the day and that is all it was.
That term holds as much substance to me as the stupid "X factor" bandied about in recent years by inarticulate dills who are incapable of putting into words the specific capabilities they see in a player.