RUGBY WORLD CUP ROUND ONE REPORT
Eoin Harrington Syntax Kenney
And so, on Friday night the waiting was over. All those fantasy team selections, last minute pizza orders and ‘massive hits’ montages on Facebook were leading to this…England looked nervy against Fiji, but kicked on with twenty minutes to go and took an assuring 35-11 win. So, in other words, their fans still believe they are going to win the World Cup. Fiji, on the other hand, did score two early try of the tournament contenders (we’ll ignore the fact that Matawalu’s phenomenal break down the sideline was disallowed – it was still a super score). And then, on Sunday, Wales produced one of the most expected World Cup wins in history, racking up an enormous 54-9 win over Uruguay. You have to feel for Uruguay, the draw couldn’t have been much worse…the only thing that could make things worse would be if, say, Australia were in their group as well! Oh…
We headed into Saturday with question marks over whether Tonga would be defeated by Georgia and whether Italy could overcome France but none of us were even comprehending a South African loss to Japan on Saturday afternoon. To those of you who watched the match live – count yourselves lucky because that will go down in history as one of the greatest sporting moments of all time. In other news, Samoa defeated the USA 25-16, with the Eagles now dreading their match up with Japan – the one match they thought they had a chance of winning! Scotland enter the fray on Wednesday, surely with eyes on the massive opportunity to top the group after the South Africans’ slip up – any Scotsman who thought back in March they would be in this position would have been called out as delusional and clueless!
You do have to feel a bit sorry for Georgia – the stats show that they won in the World Cup for only the third time against Tonga on Saturday and that it was only the second occasion on which they have scored more than one try in a World Cup game – and nobody cares because of what Japan did to South Africa! You can’t underestimate how big a win that was for Georgia on Saturday – it could be the start of a new era for rugby in the country. Meanwhile, the award for party poopers of the round surely goes to New Zealand – well into the second half, with Argentina 16-12 ahead, many were salivating at the prospect of the most shocking weekend in rugby history. And then, as the All Blacks do, they romped to a 26-16 victory. Typical.
Henshaw and Healy out of the team due to injury and Bowe and Toner dropped due to a dip in form – and we still destroyed Canada. In truth, Japan could destroy Canada at this rate, but nonetheless it was an important win and one which could set the ball rolling for a very special six weeks…with Conor McGregor causing waves in the UFC, Jack McCaffrey and Dublin as All-Ireland champions and Ireland (with Cian Healy) going for the World Cup, this could be a very memorable year for Irish, Dublin and Belvedere sport. Oh, and France beat Italy too. Sacré bleu!
RANDOM FACT OF THE DAY: Japan (42% territory and 45% possession) were fairly dominated by South Africa on Saturday for the majority of the match – but the last ten minutes saw Japan take 96% territory and 91% possession.