Monday 10 September 2007

Rugby World Cup: Opening Shots

September 7th
France 12-17 Argentina

September 8th
New Zealand 76-14 Italy
Australia 91-3 Japan
England 28-10 USA

September 9th
Wales 42-17 Canada
South Africa 59-7 Samoa
Scotland 56-10 Portugal
Ireland 32-17 Namibia

There was an air of predictability floating around the results from the opening weekend of the RWC. The hammerings dealt out by the All Blacks, Criminals and Boks against relative minnows (Italy, Japan and Samoa respectively) were somewhat expected. Although special note should be made of the Kiwis domination of the Italians; unlike the drubbings inflicted upon Japan or Samoa New Zealand were made to work hard for their 76 points, making their victory easily the most impressive of the three southern hemisphere nations, and somewhat terrifying for the rest of their competition.

Whilst the boys from south of the equator got off to a flying start the home nations sputtered and struggled into life. Wales and Scotland took 60 odd minutes to finally get motoring against weak opponents, both teams completely unconvincing in their first outings. Ireland were a hollow mockery of the team that has shown such potential over the past few years in the Six Nations. The Irish had real difficulties dominating a Namibian side that had been smashed by over a hundred points by South Africa in the build-up to the world cup.

Ireland's problems are heightened by the shock success of group rivals Argentina who overcame hosts France in the tournament opener in Paris. A French team completely devoid of direction found themselves bullied around the park by a much more aggressive Argentine eight who completely controlled the contact situation for the entire eighty minutes. Dispatching of the French puts the Argentines into a very powerful position in the group of death, putting increasing pressure on a seemingly out of form Ireland team to perform.

Predictions (predicted winners in italics)
September 11th
Argentina - Georgia

September 12th
USA - Tonga
Japan - Fiji
Italy - Romania

September 14th
England - South Africa

September 15th
New Zealand - Portugal
Wales - Australia
Ireland - Georgia

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