Monday, October 08, 2007


This is rapidly turning the script on its head. England was supposed to be without hope, and the games before the All Blacks finally lifting the trophy a mere formality. Northern Hemisphere Rugby was comatose, out of contention.

Funny how things turn out on the field. England sends the Wallabies packing. France, having lost their opener to Argentina, dispatches the All Blacks after some genius turns from Freddie Michalak (and admittedly a forward pass, but still). The All Blacks have now been dismissed twice by France in the RWC. The 'most enigmatic side in world Rugby' indeed - the French really can step it up for the big games, where the All Blacks seem to choke. Much as I enjoy the All Blacks normal display of peerless Rugby superiority, I vocally backed the French. They wanted it more, and for the All Blacks, another agonising, soul-searching four years until the next chance.

The real revelation though are the Pumas. Argentina have long been the punch bag that everybody always beats, but quietly they've put together a quality side, with some truly world-class players that would feature in a tournament XV. Gus Pichot, the former Bristol scrum half, confidently claimed that Hernandez would pip Dan Carter to the All Blacks number 10 jersey if he'd been a New Zealander. Their pack is brutal.

And then there's England. Jonny's back, and although not quite back to his former glory, he just seems to tie up the loose ends and make the team work. Andy Gommersal has been the real eye opener though. Fast, precise service has made the backs start believing again. And then there's Paul Sackey - how come he hasn't had any air time before?

So, France-England. Argentina-South Africa. I wouldn't like to call either of the games in advance.

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