Sunday, September 11, 2011

Rugby World Cup round up - all the biggies win

Would you ever run the feckin ball?

New Zealand  41 - 10  Tonga 
Scotland 34 - 24 Romania 
Fiji 49 - 25 Namibia 
France 47 - 21 Japan 
Argentina 9 - 13 England
Sunday , September 11
Australia 32 - 6 Italy 
Ireland 22 - 10 USA 
South Africa 17 - 16 Wales
New Zealand got the show going in fine style with a 6 try demolition of Tonga. The eagle eyed choker spotters weren’t impressed – ‘They fell off in the second half! Dan Carter had a poor match!’ Six tries does it for me though,  and Tonga are not an easy team to beat. Quite an interesting pre match haka competition as well, where I thought the Tongans had a slight edge.
I didn’t catch the Scotland Romania match,   where the Scots kind of tiptoed past the Romanians by all accounts, or the Fiji Namibia match, where Fiji clocked up a good score in what was said to be an entertaining match. I then made a fatal error by writing off the Japan France match as one the French would slam dunk the funk out of the Japanese to go for a run, in time to watch the England Argentina match.  Well, the Brave Blossoms, ( and spell check saved my blushes on the first spelling of blossoms, cough) obviously spurred on by the news that I’d got them in the office draw, really took the game to the French, and at times looked like they were going to record their second ever world Cup win . (Their only win so far is ironically over Zimbabwe). I watched for a bit when Japan got their second try, and I wasn’t feeling the love for the French from the crowd. There were plenty of Japanese supporters, the Kiwis were all oddly behind the Japanese, and all the neutrals were backing the underdog. One sniff of victory for the Japanese and half the western world descended into raucous ‘allo ‘allo style derision of the French. They managed to pull themselves together in the end and get the win. Nihon gambatte!
Then it was the supposed match of the day, England v Argentina. You can win pretty, you can win ugly, but at the end of the day, a win is a win. But England’s win was as ugly as Martin Johnson’s face in the post match interview – yes, it was that bad! It was a poor match by any standards, with both teams bereft of ideas, either bashing it up the middle, or kicking it aimlessly away. They were both content to play without the ball and wait for the other team to make a mistake. Don’t get me wrong either, I’m not knocking England for the sake of it, they played some good rugby in the Six Nations, attractive running rugby. They are back in the straight jacket of a kicking game, except their wunderkind Johnny has lost his mojo. The commentary didn’t help either – when I heard them labeling their group with England, Argentina and Scotland the ‘Group of Death’ it was fortunate there was a large basin handy. Captain for the day was Mike Tindall, and he would do well to learn from the John Smit/Ritchie McCaw book of conversing with the ref – it’s ‘Yes sir, No sir, 3 bags full sir’, not ‘Yes, but…’ England scraped out of this one by the skin of teeth – please in their next match can they start with Youngs and Flood and run the ball a bit? The most exciting part of this match was the streaker by a country mile.
On Sunday, Australia started slowly and then ran away with it in the end. Then it was Ireland’s chance to start righting the wrongs of 2007. Except they still had Steady Eddie, now coaching the USA, putting a spanner in the works. Ireland were underwhelming, they got the win, but still made far too many mistakes for a team that has ambitions to go far in this tournament. The USA competed well physically in loose play, but their scrum and lineout were awful. Still, the match was played in pretty appalling conditions, and it still seems like half the Irish team is just back from injury. Tommy Bowe made a good few fluff ups, but got two tries as well, Earls looked lively, and O’Gara was on hand to steady the ship at the end. A win is a win is a win. Let’s just bank it and move on.
The last match of the weekend was Wales/South Africa, and it was the most keenly contested. The Boks started like a house on fire, then gradually lost their way – they had a few ‘senior’ moments I guess. I think Pieter De Villiers had to gently remind this bunch of veterans why they here and what they were doing at half time. Wales played really, really well, and I thought they had it won several times in the match. The Boks still had a few gears to go up though, and however badly they played, when they needed to, they went straight up the field and scored a try under the posts. The Welsh will be kicking themselves, this was the one that got away, but if they carry on playing like that they can still go a long way in this competition. The World Champs look anything but.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent summary as always. I share your derision of the commentators' over-selling the strength of England's pool. If THAT'S a group of death, they dont expect to win the tournament.