chickenfeet: (rugby)
All in all, a pretty good world cup. The knock out stages featured some close and exciting games even if they weren't great spectacles of running rugby. Knock out competitions are like that.

It does raise some questions that need answering though. The tournament is too long and there are far too many embarrassingly one sided games. I think a sixteen team competition with some sort of preliminary tournament for second rank teams may be the way to go. That would raise financing issues but there are a host of those that the IRB needs to address anyway so let's add that to the list.

Something must be done for Argentina. Logically they should be playing in an expanded Trinations. So far the money men in SANZAR have resisted the idea but, frankly, it's time South Africa and Australia in particular put something back into developing the game. At least England, Scotland, Ireland and New Zealand contribute by way of the Churchill Cup.

The IRB needs to address the growing gap between the top nations with full time professional leagues and the rest. Three things at least need to be done:

1. There needs to be a financial equalization scheme so that some of the money generated by TV revenues in the rich countries goes to developing the game in the poorer countries.

2. We need more meaningful international competition for the second and third tier nations.

3. Those teams need to have a chance to prepare adequately. That means that clubs must be made to release players for international duty. If FIFA can make it happen then so can the IRB.

Also, strategically, the IRB really needs to get to grips with the North American market. Rugby is a natural fit with North American sporting tastes and soccer has shown that if the marketing is right the fans will come. Toronto FC sells out a 25,000 seat stadium for every game. Canada are lucky if a third as many show up for a rugby international.

The game

Oct. 20th, 2007 09:26 pm
chickenfeet: (rugby)
I've been resisting going to the pub to watch the games live on PPV for some exorbitant fee but the final is the final etc. Rumour had it that Scallywags would be really, really busy and Rumour was spot on. I got there at 1230 for a 1500 KO and got a decent seat but only because they had reserved a section for the Nomads (they are our main sponsor). By 1245 they had shut the doors for general admission and even those who knew the secret handshake could only find standing room. The advantage of being there that early is that I got to watch United stuff Villa.

The game itself wasn't bad for a final. It was conservative, cagey stuff for the most part but then finals usually are. The Springbok line out was really excellent which nullified some good tactical kicking from England. The English scrum was predictably strong. Both sides defended really well and only Steyn and, especially, Tait showed much sign of livening things up. In a game of that type it was unsurprising that the game was effectively decided by a couple or three close refereeing calls. If Cueto's 'try' had been given (and after watching all the replays I still wasn't sure whether his foot clipped the line or not) it would have been (probably) 10-9 not 6-9 at the half. The final two Springbok penalties might easily not have been given too. There were incidents the other way that looked awfully similar but went unpunished. But that's how it goes some days. The ref wasn't wrong to make the calls he did and South Africa didn't screw up their chances.

Also, WTF was Gordon Brown doing there with the nobs shaking hands with the players and such? He's not English and knows (or cares) damn all about rugby.
chickenfeet: (rugby)
... and boy am I glad. Both sets of Southron sheepshaggers are going home. This may be a bad omen for Scotland but what a semi it's going to be.
chickenfeet: (rugby)
I'm not seeing much reason to change my prediction of an all southern hemisphere semifinals. Ireland were pretty dismal against France and Argentina are sticking it to Namibia. I really fancy Argentina to win the group which would give them a quarter final against Scotland or Italy, both of whom I'd expect them to beat.

Scotland aren't even fielding their full strength side tomorrow against New Zealand, preferring to effectively concede without a fight so as to conserve their strength for their crunch match with Italy. Yes, it makes sense but read that sentence again and imagine what Ian McGeechan or Gavin Hastings or anyone of Scotland's former greats would have thought of it.

England finally looked like a decent side against Samoa. They should be good enough for second place in the group but that means a quarter final against Australia. They'll have to keep improving at a pretty good lick to have even a hope there.
chickenfeet: (rugby)
All teams but the minnows have now played and it's quote hard to see a Northern hemisphere team making the semis. NZ and Australia efficiently disposed of weak opposition. South Africa beat the dangerous Samoans quite comfortably. As for the 6N countries, their performances ranged from unimpressive to woeful. France lost to Argentina, Scotland struggled against Portugal (a side Canada beat comfortably in a warm up game), Ireland got a scare against Namibia, Wales conceded three tries to Canada and England looked very pedestrian against the USA. Italy got stuffed by the All Blacks but at least they scored a couple of tries. I wouldn't put money on England to do that against New Zealand. I fancy SANZAR plus the Pumas for the semis. If that happens the case for letting Argentina into one of the top flight international tournaments will be overwhelming.

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