The Rugby World Cup is 12 days old and so far it’s already throw up lots of tries, controversy, upsetting losses, the shock result of the decade and even a bit of romance.
England got the tournament off to a nervy but winning start against Fiji on the opening night with 9.4 million UK viewers tuning in but the amount of TMO (television match official) stoppages put a bit of a downer on the evening. With such a high calibre world event the officials want to make sure they get things right and as the competition has gone on this area seems to be a lot smoother.
The opening weekend produced the shock result of the tournament/year/decade when unlikely hero’s Japan beat twice World Cup winners South Africa 34-32 scoring a try with the last play of the match. South Africa approached the match in a very arrogant way trying to physically dominate the Japanese and not playing any creative rugby but Japan were up to the task stepping up in the contact areas, moving the ball quickly into space and trying lots of different things making sure the South Africans couldn’t settle into the match. Scotland are looking like a very competitive side and I fully expect them to qualify for the knock out stages but have some tough games against South African and Samoa to come. Ireland who are probably the best placed northern hemisphere side to win the Rugby World Cup face their biggest challenge so far in Italy and France but with how secure they’ve looked so far in their 2 pool matches they should finish top of their group. New Zealand, tournament favourites, arguably have the easiest pool and will easily finish as pool winners but are likely to face France in the Quarter finals who have a habit of scaring New Zealand in World Cups and have knocked them out on two occasions, let hope this happens again.
England suffered a truly upsetting result against Wales last Saturday throwing away a 10 point lead to lose 28-25. England shot themselves in the foot with the amount of stupid penalties they gave away and Dan Biggar the welsh fly half didn’t feel like missing off the kicking tee. England’s team selection was far too conservative for my liking and it played into the Welsh hands. To really compete on the International level you have to threaten to score tries and England didn’t pick a side that could do that. In my opinion this English side doesn’t have enough international experience to win the World Cup but should still make it out of the pool.
Who do I think will win the Rugby World Cup? Its New Zealand’s to lose but my heart still wants England to surprise me. If I was to put money on it I would go for Ireland
A bit of romance to finish off with, Florin Surugiu, Romanian scrum half put his sides 44-10 loss to Ireland quickly behind him on Sunday as he proposed to his girlfriend on the pitch at Wembley following the game. He got down on one knee in front of the Romanian squad on the pitch and a few fans that were still in the stands. Rugby is a beautiful game.
Author: Guest Blogger John Naylor, Cambridge University Rugby Development Manager