The Big Three still look… big (Rugby World Cup updates)

17 09 2007

New Zealand, South Africa & Australia are performing as expected, and nothing seen has changed any predictions of the All Blacks, Springboks & Wallabies making the semis of the Rugby World Cup in France.

France defeated Namibia 87-10

Viva le Francais!But finally a Northern Hemisphere team has looked like a team that’s come here to play. France’s defeat of Namibia at a hefty total of 87-10 puts the Irish performance in dire perspective. Ireland managed eke out a win against Namibia 32-17.
But they haven’t been alone.
Thus far we’ve had England only just managing to put away the US 28-10 then getting a thrashing to the tune of 36-0 from South Africa.
Wales struggled against Canada, then was soundly beaten by Australia – despite a home ground advantage & quite a few dubious decisions in their favour.
Ireland had to be licking their lips post France’s opening day loss to Argentina, but their performance against the two ‘minnow’ teams in Namibia & Georgia has been anything but encouraging. Verily, they were damn lucky to walk away with a win against a courageous Georgia.

France looked well under-done against Argentina, but this win against Namibia exhibits just a little of what was expected from the Northern powers, but up to this point, has not been forthcoming.

A good win, but only what was expected. Read the rest of this entry »

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More NH woes as Springboks trample England (Rugby World Cup Updates)

15 09 2007

South Africa 36 – England 0

Yes. You read that right. Zero. Big fat goose egg.

SA SpringboksIn what was an impressive display by the Springboks, South Africa left English Roses wilting & trampled underfoot in Paris. This wasn’t a mere beating, this was a beatdown. England did not score. In a World Cup game. Savor the significance of that. Not a try scored, not a penalty converted. And this, from the nation that currently holds the title of ‘World Cup Champions’!
Truly amazing stuff.

The only shining light in this debacle for England was Jason Robinson, and even that performance is balanced by a hamstring injury sustained in the 57th minute. With Robinson limping towards the bench, there was no-one left who even remotely looked like challenging the on-field supremacy that the ‘Boks were asserting.

EnglandThis would have to leave England quite demoralized. There had been excuses thrown around willy-nilly by the English prior to the World Cup in regards to their poor performance over the last year or so. ‘Not peaking too early’… ‘will come good when it matters’… amongst other apologist theories. Even the poor showing against the USA was written off as ‘it’s early days yet’…
Well, not so.
Crunch-time is now, and England have failed to deliver. Miserably.

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Riddle me this: Early grades in!

9 09 2007

Riddler?  One-eyed All Black fan!The Riddler, everyone’s favourite one-eyed All Black supporter has his assessments done for the some of the powerhouses who have played already in the Rugby World Cup…

Day 2 – Team Reviews

The Mighty All BlacksAll Blacks
Look very sharp and crisp for a team that hasn’t played together since July. They hit their strides very early and put the result beyond doubt. They had a lull in the middle of the match and gave the Italian supporters something to cheer about but towards the end they kicked back into top gear and won by 62 points against a side that won two games in the six nations and pushed Australia to 7 points the last time they met. Read the rest of this entry »





No Eagle-pie for England (Rugby World Cup – Match Reports)

9 09 2007

France 07So the first day of matches is over. Some expectations fulfilled, but some damn good performances too. Still another day of matches today before the weekend’s rugby is done – but let’s look at what’s gone:

England 28 – USA 10
Funny that the first thing I’m going to do on this is congratulate the US Eagles. Losing, but only going down by 18 to the reigning World Champions is pretty damn good. It remains to be seen what repercussions will be felt from this. Are the US that good? Are England that bad? Can the US of A get wins against either Tonga or Samoa?
I think that Samoa will be salivating at the prospect of playing what appears to be an underdone English team. There’s a pretty good chance that England don’t get out of pool play, should they continue to play the way they did against the US.
The US should look forward to the Tonga match, but I still favour the islanders to get the job done.
Still… I don’t think that anyone will be taking the US Eagles lightly in pool-play. Read the rest of this entry »





The Ankle Tap: First weekend of Rugby World Cup matches!

7 09 2007

GOTCHA!So the Rugby World Cup is merely 11 odd hours away from beginning… excited as all hell here. And despite the IRB’s bone-headedness over media (latest update on that can be found over at Epic Carnival here!), it is shaping up to be one helluvan event…

First round of matches – let’s have a look at the first weekend’s matches: generally speaking this weekend promises to be a fairly one-sided affair. Every match other than the opener looks cut & dried.

  1. September 7th – First game, the hosts France take on Argentina, in Saint-Denis. The Argies have been in fine fettle recently, but France-on-French-soil won’t be dissuaded. I’ll tip the Les Bleus to take it, but in relatively tight contest: less than 10 points in the margin.
  2. September 8th – Italy face the might of the All Blacks in Marseille. The Italians will be glad to get this one behind them, so they can focus on the possibility of qualifying for the quarters. I look for the ABs to put their stamp on this tournament & beat a much-improved Azzurri side by 24+. Read the rest of this entry »




“Swing Low Sweet Chariot…” England at the Rugby World Cup

17 08 2007

France 07In our endeavor to provide a wide & varied coverage of the Rugby World Cup, we have the effervescent Kip writing on all things English!

England!

Statistics show that England does not stand a chance in World Cup 2007. An abysmal record as champions has seen England reel from one crisis to another. Their away record shows 0% success rate against major teams in this period. Disjointed, negative and even pathetic performances has led to dismay amongst the England faithful. Indeed… there was even booing at Twickenham.

Why then, are England even bothering to turn up?
Answer – to win it again of course!

The appointment of Brian Ashton marked a significant change in England’s approach and aspirations. A new belief and laissez-faire style was imprinted on the squad, and at times against the All Blacks it looked promising. However, the style was so unorganised that established teams simply outplayed them.

The strategy was amended. Thirty players were rested or injured for the summer tours. A strong team of emerging players was sent to the Churchill Cup and what was left sent to South Africa apparently to be slaughtered. Read the rest of this entry »





Riddle me this: Rugby World Cup reviews – pool A

3 08 2007

France 07So… I know this guy who is perhaps the most one-eyed All Black fan ever. I swear, he cannot see to his left, he’s so one-eyed. Guy does know his rugby tho’, and that’s no joke. So, I asked him to write some stuff for the site – in my attempt to provide an *extensive coverage* of the Rugby World Cup – and he said sure.

So, from the pen of a one-eyed New Zealand fan, here ’tis (be warned tho’: this guy does not pull his punches! And we wouldn’t want it any other way)…

by The Riddler…

World Cup Pool A Rundown

England
Seeded top side of this pool is the defending World Cup champions England. Although they were world beaters in 2003, they have been beaten by the world since then, losing to no fewer than 8 different nations. Scotland, Ireland, Wales, France, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa & Argentina have all claimed the English scalp – many on multiple occasions. Going into the last world cup they had an imposing record winning 31 of 34 games in the lead-up to it. This time around they go in with a 15 of 37 record.

Is this a cunning English ploy of lulling their opponents into a sense of false security?

Not bloody likely. They are as terrible as their record suggests and to compound their woes their coach has one of the worst international records going around, doing poorly as an Irish coach and not much better as English Coach. The small glimmer of hope for them is Johnny Wilkinson, but he will not have the support he had back in 2003. Given their form away from England (where they have only managed just 3 wins – against Italy & Scotland) from 17 they might find it tough on the road, even though it is only a short swim across the English Channel. They will likely qualify for the quarter finals although they are no certainties of this. The quarters look like their limit and they will be easy fodder for the more in-form sides at that stage. Read the rest of this entry »