Sidelines from the RWC
by Tracey Nelson
21 Sep 2007
Reuben Thorne looks set to make his first appearance at the tournament when the team to play Scotland is named on Tuesday evening, France time. However, the clock remains ticking for lock Keith Robinson and if he cannot recover from his calf injury it looks likely that a replacement will be called up for him – the front runners being Otago’s Tom Donnelly, a specialist lock who showed good form with the Junior All Blacks this season, or Auckland’s Troy Flavell who was part of the All Black squad during the Iveco series and the Tri Nations this season.
What are the chances of the 2007 RWC semi finals being an all Southern Hemisphere derby? On current form it seems more than likely that South Africa, Australia and New Zealand will be first place getters in Pools A, B and C respectively. Pool D looks to be a fight between France and Argentina, unless Ireland can pull themselves out of the mire and produce something miraculous to beat both those sides in the final two weeks of pool play. If Argentina beat Ireland, then they will top Pool D which would see France as the runner up having to play New Zealand in Cardiff – a prospect they and the tournament organisers surely wouldn’t have been hoping for so early in the piece.
It’s official – England are the worst defending champion of the Rugby World Cup crown. Not only have they slipped to 7th in the world rankings but their win/loss ratio over the past four years has now dipped below the 50% mark. They are also the first title holders to be held to nil in a World Cup pool game.
Best newspaper quote of the week (and there have been some good ones after the Springboks’ demolition of England) was from the Weekend Argus based out of Capetown: "Before the match they (England) went through a warm-up routine that looked like a ‘handbags at 10 paces’ routine rather than a team gearing up for a match against one of the most physical teams in the world’.
Funniest advertisment – Nike ran a full page spread before the England-Springbok game of the English players standing staunchly with arms folded on the Dover cliffs with the caption reading "Not without a fight". In hindsight perhaps a better caption may have been "Just like lemmings…"
The powerful French loose forward, Eric Chabal, has been quoted as saying that despite his wild looks and brutal running on the field "in my mind I am tranquil". Well thank heavens for that, because the mind boggles as to what he might produce if he was feeling a little riled!!
Who would ever have imagined an All Black pack containing five front rowers? With the current locking crisis in the All Black camp Saturday’s game against Portugal saw TH prop Carl Hayman replacing Chris Jack at lock and and hooker Keven Mealamu coming on at blindside flanker for Jerry Collins to form surely one of the most unusual forward packs in New Zealand’s rugby history.by