Wednesday, September 21, 2011

RWC2011 French selection for New Zealand really gets me going

Sonny Bill Williams -eager to give some French Lessons (picture )

During the week Italy ran out easy winners over minnows Russia, while Tonga overcame Japan in a far closer contest.

Ireland face Russia next themselves, and going on Russian form so far this will be an exercise in giving the Irish squad a run and possibly trying a few combinations. We don’t want to risk any of our frontline players, our match against Italy is the match the Italians have been building up to for four years, and can you imagine beating Australia and losing to Italy? Makes you go cold.

The big encounter of the weekend sees hosts New Zealand take on their bête noire, France. French coach Marc Lièvremont, came in early with his team selection, and he’s gone and picked a scrum half at scrum half, and a scrum half at fly half. Now I try to be as even handed as I can on this blog, and avoid national stereotypes, but in this case I’m prepared to make an exception. You really feel that in true Monty Pythonesque style that Lièvremont is waving his private parts in your aunties face with this selection. Maybe he does feel that your mother was a hamster and that your father smelled of elderberries. Jesus wept, what have the French done to deserve a coach like this?  Well, in fairness, they do break Irish hearts on a regular basis, with Vincent Clerk the chief villain. And they have made a habit of destroying the dreams of a certain little southern hemisphere nation every four years or so. Then there was the Rainbow Warrior- actually, the French are getting exactly what they deserve! And just to piss us off even more, they’ll probably go and win the match just to rub their Frenchness in our faces. I think Lièvremont has a lot more in common with Springbok Coach Pieter De Villiers than a French surname.

Now that I have that off my chest, what are their chances of beating New Zealand?. I know Parra plays fly half at club level when needed, but he’s not a first choice there even at club level, so this is surely going to disrupt the team. The rest of the team is really solid, but not necessarily first choice players. I think that Lièvremont has an eye on sticking in the easier side of the draw( that’s OK Marc, you wouldn’t be the first team to underestimate the Irish). And the All Blacks are going to feel like it’s their moral obligation to wipe this French team off the face of the earth to avenge events four years ago. They’ll oblige the French and give them a sound beating.

Sunday sees two pivotal matches. First up. Samoa and Fiji are going to lock horns. This is a must win match for Samoa to try and keep their qualification hopes going. The Samoans have been doing some serious giving out about their match schedule, and rightly so. Top tier teams like South Africa and Wales get leisurely 6, 7 even 8 day gaps between matches while the minnows get sometimes only 4 days to recover, which is not nearly enough given the physicality of the sport. Samoa should win this one anyway.

Argentina and Scotland is another key match, probably to decide the runner up spot to England in that group. Now I’m not expecting a try fest. In fact, I’m not expecting to see too much of the ball at all, only briefly appearing at the back of a ruck before next one is set up. Both teams have reputation for a decent pack, and reasonably limited backs. So if you’re a fan of wrestling, you could be in for a treat. For the record, I’d say Argentina are going to shade this one, which could set up an almighty final match between Scotland and England, as the Scots try to qualify.

Wednesday, September 21 Tonga 31 - 18 Japan 

Tuesday , September 20 Italy 53 - 17 Russia

Thu - 22nd Sep 11   09:00 South Africa  vs Namibia

Fri - 23rd Sep 11   09:30 Australia  vs USA

Sat - 24th Sep 11   09:30 New Zealand  vs France
07:00 England  vs Romania

Sun - 25th Sep 11  

08:30 Argentina vs Scotland
06:00 Ireland  vs Russia
03:30 Fiji vs Samoa

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