The global rugbyfest that is RWC2015 grows ever nearer, and the past week has probably posed more questions than answers as to what is going to happen.
Firstly, the Flying Fijians win the Pacific Nations Cup with a brutal, and at the same time skillful, performance against Samoa. They are not in Group A to make up the numbers, and if anyone was foolish enough to underestimate them before, this performance will make people take notice just a little bit more. You can see assorted fly halves from around the world bulk buying industrial strength rib protectors as we speak.
Next was the Rugby Championship decider, and what a great time (if you are an Aussie) to get your first win over the ABs in years. A fine performance that was built on playing two tireless opensides in Hooper and Pocock, and discovering a front row for the first time in a decade. The scrum is an area that England particularly would have been targeting, but they dealt with an experienced and powerful New Zealand scrum with little difficulty. Kepu had a fine game, although the usual Northern Hemisphere wry grin appeared on my face when I heard that he was born in Sydney, was an under 17, 19 & 21 Kiwi international, but who has finally reverted to playing for the land of his birth.
And so a good match in Sydney, generally well officiated by Wayne Barnes & his team, although there were two little niggles. Firstly feeding. By no stretch of the imagination were any put ins straight, and I hope that this is policed properly in RWC2015, as this is not rugby league. Also, Aaron Smith, the feisty All Black scrum half, was guilty of a double stamp on Israel Folau at a ruck, and didn’t even get a mild rebuke. Now, you won’t get a more passionate advocate about old fashioned rucking than me, but you can’t place your boots on people, and if you do (witness the sainted Dylan Hartley against South Africa), its a yellow card offence, even if its not dangerous. The fact that Smith got a yellow card later for a really high tackle could have seen him sent off and missing a chunk of the World Cup, which none of want to see, but there has to be consistency. Lecture over.
Despite losing, the ABs showed more than enough danger to proved that they aren’t exactly going backwards, although I’m not sure if the same can be said for the South Africans. Losing at home to Argentina is no disgrace (although it was the first time EVER), as the Pumas are as exciting a side in the world on their day. But that’s three losses in a row for the Boks, and history teaches us that momentum is all important leading into a World Cup.
Which is why Ireland’s win against a lacklustre Welsh 2nd XV on Saturday should be seen as important. Strong scrummaging, decent back play, good subs bench – all in all, a great result away in a full Millenium Stadium with the roof closed for extra hwyl. It’s all building momentum, and with their last warm up game against England at Twickenham on September 5th (a rehearsal for the Semi?), this will be a cracker to watch.
But what of Wales? It was nowhere near their first choice team, but Gats must be worried about the lack of depth in the squad. The front row looked ominously weak, and everyone West of the Bristol Channel must be praying to which ever divinity is handy that Samson Lee makes a miraculous recovery ASAP, or else its going to be between them and Uruguay for last place in the group.
It’s all getting closer and closer, and if you want to start your tournament early, book yourself in to our lunch on Thursday 17th September, the day before it all kicks off. Two English World Cup winners in Mike Tindall & Danielle Waterman, a Welsh MC, a fine lunch in elegant surroundings, loads of tables full of corporate guests, rugby clubs or just mates wanting to have a rugby-related laugh – its going to be fun! £90 per head, or tables of 10 for £900 – all full tables purchased qualify for Club Cashback, where we’ll give £100 back to your club for whatever purpose you like – tours, kit, refurbishments, beer funds etc. You’ll have some fun – come join us.
Contact Sid Millar on 07401 056986 or firstname.lastname@example.org to book your place.