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 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 »





Top Sports Stories in Japan… (June 25)

25 06 2007

Naoko Takahashi

Beginning of another week… Today’s headlines in sports, in Japan: