Play La Marseillaise; Play It!

Freddie’s back at No10 and Les Bleus have scored 94 points in three games in front of clamourous home crowds, hammering the Wallabies 33-6 before gutting the Pumas 39-19, then breaking down a super-physical Samoan challenge to ride out 22-14 winners and end their series undefeated. Something is very, very right with French rugby at the moment. That isn’t a good advent for Ireland, but it does wonders for the rugby world as a whole. Continue reading

So long, Samoa

SA & Samoa share a contemplative moment

This was a belter of a game in what has been a very good World Cup. Samoa arrived to North Harbour needing to win to have any hope of going through to the quarter finals. South Africa has stuttered against Wales but PdV seemed to have settled on his strongest team and selected it for the match against the Islanders. Continue reading

Match Preview: Samoa vs South Africa

Bismarck Back for Boks. Bish Bash Bosh*?

Crazy Piet has made a few headlines over the years with his post match comments. You know the kind. As with many appointments in post-Apartheid South Africa, there was some consternation that he had been appointed partly because of his colour rather than his ability. However, PdV is no fool. Continue reading

Match Preview: Wales vs Samoa

"This guy thinks he's going to win ... oh."

This game is huge, particularly for Wales. After running South Africa so close last week with a daring performance, a loss here would probably see them out of the World Cup at the same stage as Namibia. Continue reading

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

One To Watch: Joe Tekori [Samoa]

That's One Big Dude

The huge Samoan Joe Tekori has most recently been seen by most Irish and British rugby fans tearing up Twickenham and Cardiff for the Barbarians in their end of season friendly against England and ridiculous ‘test match’ against Wales [yes, the Welsh awarded caps; they came with a little mullet at the back]. Continue reading