Right. now we are getting towards the business end of the rugby world cup, it is time for me to give my thoughts on the tournament so far. I have really enjoyed watching as many of the games as possible over the last 3 weeks, but it is time to be honest and decisive. Whether you like it or not!
No surprises here. New Zealand smashed their way through France (a game which I thought was ace!) and did a job against Japan and Canada with a ‘weakened’ team. Japan and Canada put in decent periods against the French and Tonga’s result was nothing short of epic. In hindsight, the game against Canada could have put them through to face England, but never mind.
Again, pretty much according to the script. England worked for their win against Argentina, and Scotland threw the kitchen sink at us, but pool winners we are and an unsettled Les Bleus team awaits. Will it ever be the case where England play WELL and win, not badly?!
By far the biggest result for the home nations, Ireland beating Australia and setting up a sequel to the 6 nations cracker against a full-of-confidence Wales.
The Welsh pushed the South Africans pretty damn close, and their following results have been pretty good. South Africa are solid and unspectacular, and have the Aussies to contend with next weekend.
With Dan the Man out for the ABs, it is not quite as certain as it once looked. I still think it is theirs to lose, this is tournament rugby, and history would suggest expect the unexpected. England are without mutant prop Andrew Sheridan and overall injuries have plagued every team, with Australia even putting a no. 8 on the wing. Time will tell if the potential winners simply keep their big players wrapped up till necessary, but try telling McCaw et all that when there is a potential bledisloe cup rematch in a fortnight.
QF1- Ireland vs Wales.
Ireland will be looking for revenge after what happened in Cardiff, and beating the Aussies will still be fresh in the players’ minds. Similarly, Wales’ performance against South Africa showed gusto and heart, if not reflected on the score sheet. Wellington will be red and green come saturday, that is certain.
Prediction- Ireland. JUST.
QF2- England vs France.
England are playing badly (mainly) and grinding out results. France are unsettled and are reflecting the mindset of their football counterparts shown last year. BUT. This is unpredictable, flamboyant, potentially brilliant, but equally potentially awful France here.
I am not going to hide behind the ‘depends which France turns up’ line.
QF3- South Africa vs Australia.
Massive game for both sides as it will most likely set up a Semi final with NZ. Australia need a few players back in the mix, and the springboks will play physical and solid.
QF4- New Zealand vs Argentina.
Argentina are no mugs. their entry into the tri-nations has long been talked about with justification, and they are a bruising and well organized team. However, on home soil and home support, even without SuperDan, I think the ABs will be too strong.
Prediction- New Zealand.
My predictions may be WAAAY off, but next week will be an awesome weekend of rugby regardless.