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 »





The great divide widens – huge gap between NH & SH in Rugby World Cup

16 09 2007

Rugby World CupLast night there were 3 games:

  • New Zealand 108 defeated Portugal 13
  • Australia 32 defeated Wales 20
  • Ireland 14 defeated Georgia 10

The All Black dismantling of Portugal is no surprise. Verily, the only surprise in that match was that the Portuguese managed to get a try.
The Welsh losing to Australia doesn’t surprise either – was expected, and although a spirited second half saw the Dragons narrow the gap, on current form no amount of local-crowd advantage was going to help.

The Irish need more ballsBut that the Irish only just managing to beat a huge-hearted effort by Georgia is astounding. Ireland came into this World Cup with aspirations of making the semi-finals, perhaps even the final. The performance thus far of Ireland has left a lot to be desired. Eking a win out against Namibia (winning 32-17), and last night’s performance against Georgia could not have them feeling good about upcoming matches against France and Argentina. Read the rest of this entry »





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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Awful North – Rugby World Cup updates…

10 09 2007

France 07I don’t think anything’s happened that will make the Southern Hemisphere powers of New Zealand, South Africa and Australia quake. Verily, we could possibly see an all-Southern Hemisphere semi-finals for the first time ever with Argentina throwing down the gauntlet in Pool D.
Reigning World Cup holder England? Laughable thus far…
France? Already down 1-0 in a tight pool…
Ireland? Barely managed to beat Rugby minnow Namibia…
Wales? Not bad, but certainly their performance inspired no fear in the top nations…

So, September 9th’s games brought us the following:

Wales 42 def Canada 17 – A solid victory by the Welsh, but unless they pick up their game considerably I don’t believe they’ll be a match for the Wallabies in their clash this weekend. The Canadians took it right to them – the halftime scoreline was unbelievable: 12-9 to Canada. The Welsh looked underdone for all but 20 minutes of this game, but that was enough. 5 tries in that time span had Canada gone. Still, it will be interesting to see what Fiji can run against Wales… 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 »




Brace yourself: Heavy hits to follow – Rugby World Cup 07

5 09 2007

The Rugby World Cup…

As an Australian fan in Japan lots of emotions run rampant at the moment. Australia’s first game is in Lyon against Japan – it’s the one game the Japanese are absolutely dreading, and one that I’m looking forward to. Still… I head into viewing this RWC with a lil’ trepidation. As some of the commentary’s read here, the Wallabies aren’t quite as strong as we’ve been in years gone by. Then there’s just the pure, unaldulterated excitement at watching some damn good rugby on the new TV I purchased for this (well, truth be told – I needed a new TV. But the timing was purely for the RWC)… Not so long ago, I published an article titled Rugby World Cup – and ye gods am I excited – well, nothing’s changed.

So trepidation, joy, excitement – it’s going to be a good month. 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 »