The Rugby World Cup is just over 3 weeks away and starts on the 20 th September. Over the last few weekends we have seen many warm up games with a few surprising results. Not much can be read into it though as the selectors are obviously still tinkering with a few positions. Some teams look as though they have gone backwards, but that could be an illusion as they are resting players and saving players from unnecessary injuries.
What I was stunned to see was how the Irish got hammered at the weekend by the English team. It was like an Ireland "B" team with the main players rested. I honestly don't know what either side got out of the game as it was a run in the park for England and they had a practice match. Moves that have been tested for the World cup wouldn't have been allowed to be shown so it was a boring affair mixed with loads of errors.
What it tells us though is the Irish have very little depth in key positions and they need to stay injury free if they have a chance of going through to the quarter finals and beyond. What it looked like to me was the Irish were not worried about the score and that only two or three players were being looked at in various positions. That would make sense and I think the Irish despite being hammered actually used this match in a smarter way than the English.
South Africa won the shortened version of the Rugby Championship which is not surprising as they have done it before on a World Cup year. History tells us that this is a bad omen as whoever wins that doesn't win the World Cup.I expect them to improve on their last outing and possibly make the semi finals and it is on the day after that as it is knock out and like a cup final.
Australia beat New Zealand fairly comfortably in their first match and then were thrashed by the All Blacks in the second game losing 30 something to nil. This tells me the All Blacks have been tinkering as well and are on track to most likely win yet again. They used the Rugby Championship to play around as the World Cup is the ultimate prize. They are such a professional forward thinking outfit and are looking like the favorites already.
Wales are ranked number one in the World currently, but a bit like the Irish the problem is the depth of the squad. I see them doing well over the tournament, but there is little chance of bringing the trophy home. Other teams have a third and fourth gear and they don't.
I still need to look at the fixture list and who is in what groups which I will do in my next post to see who realistically has a chance of making the quarter finals. A lot will depend on the officials this year like always and I am interested to see what games the Frenchmen is blowing as I think he changes too many games by his poor decision making. Teams need to be smart when he is on the field as building up a lead is more important than ever.