RWC State of Play - Green and Gold Rugby
Rugby World Cup

RWC State of Play

RWC State of Play

Rugby tragics the world over are putting their lives on hold over the next 6 weeks to live and breathe everything Rugby World Cup 2019. But for a moment, let suppose that you are a casual rugby fan, who has (god forbid) a life outside of rugby.

A life that cannot be dismissed to watch Namibia play Italy. How are you to keep abreast of the various developments across all four pools? Fear not, for I pledge to sacrifice my time to give you a condensed update each few days of how the games are unfolding across the tournament and make some comments on key clashes coming up in the coming days, so you need not feel embarrassed when asked around the water-cooler, “How bloody good were the Blacks on the weekend?!”

What a great start to the World Cup it has been! Japan and the Wallabies overcame early nerves to get the job done, France and Argentina gave us an instant classic, New Zealand and the Boks show warmed us up for what may be a wonderful Final rematch and Ireland and England showed why they are tipped to go deep this tournament. Here is a brief run-down of each match so far.

Japan 30 def Russia 10

With all the build-up to the first World Cup in Asia, it was little wonder that Japan were a little nervy as the match itself began. Russia to their credit played on this perfectly with a barrage of high balls which Japan failed to handle, allowing first blood to the bears. When Japan settled into the game, they perhaps became a bit too eager, throwing the ball from sideline to sideline with plenty of flair but neglecting to do the hard work up front beforehand. By the second half Japan had remembered how to play all the game and proved too much for the plucky Russians who never stopped trying, but were outclassed in the end. A pleasing start for the host nation.

Australia 39 def Fiji 21

Like Japan, but with less excuse, Australia also had a wobbly start as they were completely out muscled and out enthused by a Fiji team that sensed an opportunity to cause an early upset. The Flying Fijians targeted Hodge and Lealiifano with some bullocking runs, with a fair bit of success, managing to capitalise well and hold the Wallabies to take a slender lead into the break. The Wallabies greater fitness and set piece ability told in the second half as the Fijians were worn down and eventually broken as the Aussies sealed an important first win in a difficult group. Australia can be happy with how they built into the match, but wont want to start like that again, especially against Wales.

France 23 def Argentina 21

This match had it all. If you choose one match to watch from the opening few days, make it this one. The first match of the infamous “group of death” this result has the potential to define who makes it out of the group and who goes home early. A classic match of two halves, the mercurial French put on a show in the first half and were all over the Argentines. The forward muscle and backline flair was everything we expect from classic French rugby. Unfortunately for the French, so was the second half grade out as the Argentines showed some flair and muscle of their own. Right up to the final whistle, the game was in the balance with both teams having a chance to win it. France eventually taking the chocolates courtesy of what may become a staple of the tournament, a clutch drop goal.

New Zealand 23 def South Africa 13

South Africa were up for this. The Boks started this game with the type of intensity and playing a style of game I wish the Wallabies could show. They had the All Blacks all sorts of rattled, but fatally failed to capitalise on the scoreboard. Thus, almost inevitably, a scintillating 10minutes or so from the All Blacks broke the game apart and built them a lead that the Boks just couldn’t peg back. Two things became clear in this match, the Springboks are in for a big tournament and will fancy themselves against anyone and this All Black side looks just as ruthless and potent as previous versions, they are here to win it and it would not be wise to bet against them doing it.

Italy 47 def Namibia 22

In what has been a bit of a trend of these opening matches, the more favoured Italy struggled early against an enthusiastic Namibia who managed to grab an early lead. In a high scoring affair, Italy did manage to get their game going and simply outclassed the Namibians, but didn’t manage to shut them out as a few pieces of individual brilliance saw plenty of trys both ways. A bonus point win for the Italians sees them take an early lead in group B.

Ireland 27 def Scotland 3

Ireland were out to send a message in what was potentially a decisive game in group A. They simply overran the Scots with a relentless forwards based attack that saw the game all but done and dusted by the 25 minute mark. An emphatic win for the men in green over their closest (on rankings and geographically) rival in the group send a warning message to the rest of the competition that Ireland are here to play. Scotland will need to pick themselves up quickly to make a mark in the latter stages.

England 35 def Tonga 3

England didn’t have any trouble with nerves as they comfortably took care of a brave Tongan side in the last match on Sunday. While there was plenty to like in the English performance, they did leave a few points on the park and will want to sharpen up before their crunch matches. Both France and Argentina showed enough to suggest that if they put it together on the day they could really challenge this England side. Tonga showed some moments but in the end were no match for the well drilled England. Tonga too is a side that could cause an upset and drop one of the big three out the group of death.

So that was the first half dozen matches of the Rugby World Cup in 2019. Coming up in the next few days are Russia and Fiji backing up on short turn arounds to play Samoa and Uruguay respectively. Italy play Canada and England take on the USA. Not matches likely to decide the fate of the group, but certainly plenty of potential for entertainment. I can’t wait!

  • Mart

    Bit of fun early.
    Italy top of Pool B!!
    Kiwis and Saffa’s struggling ;)

  • Mart

    Bit of fun early.
    Italy top of Pool B!!
    Kiwis and Saffa’s struggling ;)

  • Mart

    Bit of fun early.
    Italy top of Pool B!!
    Kiwis and Saffa’s struggling ;)

  • Ian

    You gotta wonder if the Marketing Pidgeon is dropping the ball a bit, that replica trophy in the banner looks as sad as a Saint Bernard on Diazepam.

    • AllyOz

      I’d say it’s been on the odd adventure in its time

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    Thanks Brendan, great writeup

  • RedAnt

    Thanks, Brendan.

  • Keith Butler

    Nice summary.

  • Patrick

    I agree with nearly all that, except I think its worth adding that group:
    – first 5-10 minutes of Ireland v Scotland were farcical with about 10 dropped balls, biggest case of “settling in” I’ve ever seen and both teams will be glad they played those minutes in this game and not against England;
    – England didn’t look that flash to me, whilst a lot of good movements there were too many poor support lines for my liking;
    – whilst great entertainment, Italy vs Namibia was essentially an NRC match.

    I am now really looking forward to:
    – Aus vs Wales (duh)
    – England vs each of France and Argentina
    – Fiji vs Wales
    – Japan vs Scotland
    – Uruguay vs Georgia
    – USA vs Tonga
    – the semis

  • Cameron Rivett

    -Japan struggled enough to show that the thought of them challenging a Tier 1 nation in order to exit from their group is nothing more than a mere hope
    -Australia v Fiji went as expected, their physicality and speed kept them in the contest until they tired in the last 20 and collapsed. Thankfully no one was injured and the Hodge incident has too many mitigating factors to be worthy of a red card/suspension.
    -Argentina showed what we all saw in their game against NZ this year: that they don’t have the ability to step up and win a game that’s barely within reach – though France were more often massively offside than not in the last 10 minutes and Gardner didn’t push it once.
    -South Africa may have looked good for a while, but their only try was blatantly illegal (an “interception” by a player running back onside from the previous play) and their only other try against NZ this year in 160 minutes of rugby was also against the run of play. They may be able to beat Ireland but I don’t think they’re as highly-rated as most people seem to think, several of their key players are not in as good form as last year.
    -Italy is no threat to NZ or South Africa
    -Ireland’s tries came mostly from barging the ball over from a position 5m out, and they made countless errors. This will not be enough to beat the likes of NZ.
    -England barely managed to scrap together a bonus point against a side that NZ put 92 points on 2 weeks earlier while voluntarily playing with 14 men. However, they did drop a lot of ball and once they get used to the conditions I think it’s likely they’ll be a significant threat.

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Just a die hard rugby tragic from West of the Nullabor with a penchant for the written word. Happy to talk anyones ear off about anything to do with this great game, as many a poor work colleague has discovered over the years.

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