Crystal Ball Gazing #1

Pool A: NZ, France, Tonga, Japan, Canada

Pool A hosts the opening game of the World Cup so look forward to discussion about the merits of warm up games ending and the real stuff beginning.

The first Rugby World Cup opened with New Zealand annihilating Italy and winning by massive margins in the pool stages has become a New Zealand tradition. New Zealand and France will qualify from this pool, in that order. None of the other teams really have a chance of upsetting the top two, who could pick any selection from their squads and win the three games required. Of more interest will be the composition of Henry and Lievremont’s first choice XVs. Who will Graham Henry allow into his prefect’s club? His rotation of the starting halfbacks could be the rock upon which this World Cup tilt perishes. There’s a nagging suspicion that Lievremont picks his team blindfolded, after a few glasses of red wine. France have the personnel to go far in the competition but rarely set the pool stages alight and often make heavy work of less talented opposition. Continue reading