The Rugby World Cup

Ahh... it's only Saturday night, and I have already watched 500+ minutes of rugby this weekend. Yes, you've got it, it's the Rugby World Cup. For me, it ranks below the real World Cup (tm) and the Euro championships for quad-annual sporting events, but I still spend a fair amount of time watching it.

The only problem is that the gulf between good and mediocre teams in rugby is large. None of the last five games have produced surprises. Argentina did the best against Australia, holding the hosts to a 24-8 win. The Pumas played really well, I thought and the aussies need to do much, much better if they want to win the tournament. More back line practice, perhaps?

Next was New Zealand's game against Italy. Now, the Italians have been playing in the Six Nations for a few years now, so the standard of their rugby should be much better, but they still got whipped 70-7. The All Blacks made it look like a practice match, only poor handling in the last third of the field standing between them and a hundred points (as well as RM20 for me). Absolutely phenomenal.

Keith Wood, an inspiration to us allIreland then stepped out to play Romania. It seems that Ireland are the third best team in the world. I really can't believe they're better than the Aussies, but with Keith Wood and O'Driscoll playing, they can beat any team, I reckon. Anyway, they won 45-17. As a former hooker myself, I was very, very happy when Woodie made a fullback-like angled run to score a try. (A poor combination of "I", "hooker" and "woodie" there, but I'm sure we're all mature enough not to giggle at this. Oh well, ok, giggle a little.)

I thought France against Fiji could be a really close match. Fiji always do well in seven's rugby, so all they had to do was to treat it like a seven's game played by fifteen people. They tried, but their inability to ruck and maul well cost them and they eventually lost 61-18. Some people think rugby's just "pick up the ball and run", but there's an awful lot of skill involved when trying to hold off the combined effort of eight people through your shoulder and neck in the scrum. There was an absolutely amazing try by Rupeni Caucau when he single-handedly ran two-thirds of the pitch to score.

Finally, South Africa met Uruguay. The only way that South Africa could lose this game would be if the bad luck they've been having over the last few months spilled over into tonight in a big way, but fortunately it didn't, and they won convincingly 72-6. Despite the scoreline, I didn't think they played all that convincingly, and I wish them the best of luck against England - they'll need it. Breaking a Will Greenwood tackle will be a little harder than it was against the Uruguayian midfield in this game.

Tomorrow? Wales vs Canada (potentially a close one), Scotland vs Japan and England vs Georgia (100+ points, I think).
posted on Saturday, October 11, 2003 - permalink
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