Island Nations hold court in France (Rugby World Cup updates)

13 09 2007

So another group of games have gone by, and 3 tightly contested games they were! After watching some absolute canings, it was good to have a day where the results were all decided by 10 points or less…

Tongan Taufaka

Tonga 25 def USA 15 – the media wrap-up on this had the US going in as favourites, the Tongans cast in the role of ‘underdogs’. Sorry, despite a spirited performance against England, I had stated earlier that I didn’t think the US would win a game here this World Cup… and nothing I saw in the first match changed that. And again… despite yet another spirited performance by the Eagles, the Islanders always looked more creative, more threatening. Statistically, the US had the better of Tonga, but rugby’s not a game of mere stats alone. Samoa looked more threatening when they had the ball… the US content to simply try and bull-rush the ball through the Tongan defense, a tactic that ultimately led to their defeat. 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 »

Riddle me this: Rugby World Cup reviews – pool C

8 08 2007

France 07The tips we’ve all been waiting for The Riddler to get to… I told you he was a one-eyed All Black fan… but I have a foreboding feeling that this is their year…

Rugby World Cup reviews – pool C

New Zealand

The Mighty All Blacks An absolute lock to take Pool C. This is not because I am a one-eyed Kiwi supporter. You could shove France, Ireland, Argentina, South Africa or Australia in this group and they would be still be a lock too. Outside of the All Blacks this group is a pretty sad bunch. Scotland and Italy might get within 50 of them, Romania 100 of them and the sort of score-line to expect in New Zealand/Portugal is scary. Could be 200 points here.

Pool play aside, what I like about this All Black squad is that it is by far the most thoroughly primed squad the All Blacks have ever prepared. In the past they have just rocked up to World Cups knowing they can field highly competitive sides but this time around, instead of using that attitude they have formulated a three year plan similar to England’s in 2003 that have developed astonishing depth. No side can boast the amount of depth and talent they have. They have easily the best scrum in world rugby, outstanding loosies, quality and depth in the halves and a brilliant interchangeable back three combo.

However they have one weakness and that is in the centres. Australia exposed it to great advantage earlier this season but aside from that they have been almost flawless. They have not lost a game in the northern hemisphere since 2002, have been unbeaten against northern hemisphere opponents since the last world cup and have won 32 of their last 35 games averaging 20 more points a game than their opposition. Read the rest of this entry »

Another DRAW??? Qatar holds Japan… (Asian Cup Football)

9 07 2007

Hard-hittin’ Asian Cup!A balmy night in My Dinh National Stadium, Ho Chi Minh City… and certainly not the result the current Asia Cup holders (Japan) were looking for, but after a 2nd half strike by Naohiro Takahara, Qatar came back and equalised with a late goal by the Uruguayan-born Sebastián Quintana.  And that was that… a fantastic result for Qatar, and a result that will ensure the Japanese daily papers are aflutter tomorrow.

So with 4 games down, that’s 3 1-1 draws (Thailand vs Iraq, Australia vs Oman, Japan vs Qatar). All three could be considered ‘upsets’ of a sort, as Iraq, Australia & Japan are all considered ‘Asian Powers’ in the footballing fraternity, and especially the Australian team (who only just lost to eventual winners Italy in last year’s World Cup), and Japan, who currently hold the Asian Cup title.AFC Asian Cup 2007

The only team to have actually won a game thus far is Vietnam, who defeated the more-highly-touted UAE, 2-0.

Tomorrow brings us the following games:

  • Indonesia vs Bahrain, in Gelora Bung Karno Stadium, Jakarta (Indonesia)
  • Malaysia vs China, in National Stadium Bukit Jalil, Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia)

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