So after just over six weeks, it is New Zealand who are crowned as World Champions after a 34-17 win over their fiercest rivals, Australia, the denouement to an absolutely fantastic 8th Rugby World Cup. The organisation was top notch and the atmosphere and quality of matches throughout were of the highest order, be it across England or the matches at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff. From Japan beating the might of South Africa on only the second day of the competition right through to a superb final between the current two best teams on the planet. The rise of the tier two nations has been significant during the last few weeks, with teams not getting absolutely pulverised by the traditional super powers of the game, but actually giving as good as they get – and they will surely now improve even more.
Ups and Downs
An obvious downside for the organising committee was the poor performance of the hosts, England, but that’s an issue for the RFU – this did not detract at all from the tournament and personally I felt it got even better once the English fate was set with defeat against Australia. The matches just seemed to get more and more dramatic the more there was at stake – and it brought out the best from the teams still in contention with a real emphasis on free flowing try scoring rugby.
With the final as it was with New Zealand facing Australia, there was always going to be a three time winner of the Webb Ellis Trophy. New Zealand were deserved victors creating history as the first team to retain the trophy and that despite, in my opinion, being disrespected during the tournament (people going on about their easy Pool and how when they have their first real challenge they may well fail) they showed throughout their matches that when things were not going how they would have liked they found a way to turn things around. Being behind at half time in matches aganst Argentina and South Africa but then dominating the second half to force a win and then most noticeably in the final when after Australia had brilliantly got back into the game with two tries – the All Blacks went again to score 16 unanswered points to seal the deal. Dan Carter was named man of the match in his final Rugby game before retiring from playing internationally and though he has not officially ‘retired’ Richie McCaw put in monster performance befitting a man of his stature in such a massive match. Last year I wrote this:-
about whether maybe these two New Zealand stalwarts had maybe had their day – well they have definitely answered that one.
Next Stop Japan 2019
So the World Rugby roadshow moves onto pastures new with first time hosts Japan taking on the mantle. Their team perfomed heroically in this tournament, they are the only team not to make the knockout stage with three Pool phase victories, so they can count themselves unlucky. But what it will do is ensure that come 2019 the whole country will be invested and they in the time in between will be looking for more opportunities to take on the big boys of rugby union and develop into a strong force on their home turf. So here ends the best ever Rugby World Cup. Roll on September 20th 2019 – there is a lot to live up to, but world rugby is in a very healthy and much more competitive state as we stand.
RIGHT ARE YOU SITTING COMFORTABLY I HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY
Just a short personal message for a certain Louis Van Gaal, current (and as we stand under pressure) manager at Manchester United. Whilst you are clearly a very good manager and have the trophies to back that up, you have also progressed the team from the problems they faced under David Moyes, and you have even got some of the players who were previously underperforming to up their game. However when you are given 250 million pounds to sort the issues, three and at times drab and dour 0-0 draws in a row (1 win in 6) is really not good enough, especially as the shots on target stats are far too low, which I’m sure you are fully aware of with your clipboard always seemingly by your side. Whether its personnel or tactics – the buck stops with you after spending so much money and lets be honest you are paid a handsome wage to get these decisions right more often than not. Two home games to come this week before the international break – lets hope you can actually get the team firing because at the moment your so called philosophy is an absolute joke and if it continues as it is – a top four finish let alone trophy glory is a pipe dream. You said in your press conference last week that YOU have the responsibility – well actually take some then and sort out the current shambles. To be fair I’m sure you are fully aware of this and know that wins are the key now, hopefully come Tuesday fans will be there to witness some sort of re-birth for the better (well if you support Man Utd that is).
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