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The game they play in heaven
September 6, 2011 11:50 PM   Subscribe

The 7th Rugby World Cup begins this Friday in Auckland. The fourth largest sporting event in the world, there will be twenty national teams competing for the Webb Ellis Cup, including such diverse nations as Namibia, Romania and the USA.

New Zealand are almost unbackable, with only Australia considered an outside chance of hoisting the mug. Still, the pressure on the All Blacks is enormous.

Some links for you:
Pool A (Canada, France, Japan, New Zealand, Tonga)
Pool B (Argentina, England, Georgia, Romania, Scotland)
Pool C (Australia, Ireland, Italy, Russia, USA)
Pool D (Fiji, Namibia, Samoa, South Africa, Wales)

Official twitterstream (@rugbyworldcup)
Official Facebook page
Guardian coverage
Fox Sports coverage
Dominion post coverage
Green and Gold Rugby (GaGR) blog (for excellent analysis particularly of the Wallabies and their opponents)
Springbok Rugby blog
The laws of the game (quite informative actually, Richie McCaw should have a read some time).

Here's a haka between Tonga and New Zealand Māori (for those whose understanding of rugby doesn’t extend beyond the haka (and I'm heartily sick of Ka Mate)).

Here's why your mum doesn't want you playing rugby.
posted by wilful (135 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite

 
Wonderful, thank you. This will be my go-to resource for the Cup.

For those who aren't familiar with rugby: the All Blacks are New Zealand. They (we) are historically the best team in world rugby - only five countries have ever beaten them. But they've only won the first world cup (in 1987, in New Zealand), despite being favourites in many of the others. The pressure on the All Blacks to win is always high - New Zealanders expect them to win every single game, no matter what. So the pressure to finally win the world cup again is enormous.
posted by Infinite Jest at 12:12 AM on September 7, 2011


The pressure on the All Blacks to win is always high

Indeed.

On a more serious note, this really is do or die for the All Blacks. They are, and have been for some time the standout team. It's on home turf. If they can't win it at home, it will be a crushing blow to the national psyche. On the plus side, the Australians (aka the Wallabies) - a traditional nemesis - haven't won in New Zealand since 2001 and the French don't have much form from the past few years against New Zealand although they won there in 2009 and famously took the All Blacks out of the 1999 World Cup. South Africa last won in New Zealand in 2008 and 2009 and are always a contender but are not in form quite yet. England last won against the All Blacks in 2003 and will be lucky to make the final. Wales, Ireland and Scotland have never beaten the All Blacks. [Although Munster, a provincial Irish side, scored a famous victory in 1978.]

Go to resource for stat fiends
posted by MuffinMan at 12:30 AM on September 7, 2011


They (we) are historically the best team in world rugby - only five countries have ever beaten them.

Hi there. American here in GROUND ZERO for the RWC here in Aucks (advertised by the council as "Party Central"). New Zealanders have really lost their minds about Rugby here. The newspaper recently had an article about how ONLY 65% of NZers in a poll said that the All Blacks would win the cup. ONLY.

Now you would be thinking that this kind of confidence comes from a Duke-like winnings. No. The All Blacks are a great team...but they are playing with some REALLY competitive teams out there. REALLY competitive teams.

And I'm really scared that shit is going to go down when the RWC ends and the ABs aren't the world champions of the world.

Shit, I'm scared what InfiniteJ might say to me after reading my post.

Sorry NZ.
posted by hal_c_on at 12:32 AM on September 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


ONLY 65% of NZers in a poll said that the All Blacks would win the cup. ONLY

The probability that New Zealand will win is 65%. Smart people.
posted by MuffinMan at 12:38 AM on September 7, 2011


I'm not seeing how this can be fun for the lesser squads.
posted by Mister_A at 12:42 AM on September 7, 2011


Holy shit, Muffinman. Seeing those odds make me think that even the bookies are kinda nuts. I think I'm going to make a 6 figure loan and bet on France or South Africa.

Holy shit, are those real odds?
posted by hal_c_on at 12:44 AM on September 7, 2011


Imagine how the US soccer team feel if they get a crack at playing Brazil.
posted by MuffinMan at 12:45 AM on September 7, 2011


I'm a casual rugby fan at the best of times, but this post warms my heart. Thanks, wilful.
posted by 7segment at 12:46 AM on September 7, 2011


hal_c_on they aren't real odds, no. Not least because AQB is a rankings organisation using an algorithm to create international rankings rather than a bookie. Betting patterns will distort odds.

Myk Cameron, who runs it, has some useful detail on his rankings in that linked thread. England, for example, get better odds if they win their first game. Because losing their first game puts them head to head with New Zealand, most likely, after the pool matches. France probably won't meet New Zealand until the final because France will probably win its pool games.

So, yes, France and South Africa are good value bets.
posted by MuffinMan at 12:48 AM on September 7, 2011


Also - for the uninitiated - re Wilful's you tube link.

High tackles (i.e. above the shoulders are illegal). Not using your arms in the tackle (i.e. shoulder barging) is illegal. Spearing (i.e. tackling someone and dumping them headfirst) is illegal.
posted by MuffinMan at 12:54 AM on September 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Wales, Ireland and Scotland have never beaten the All Blacks. [Although Munster, a provincial Irish side, scored a famous victory in 1978.]

Wales haven't won in a very long time, but its not never:

19 Dec 1953 Wales 13 - 8 New Zealand

And I'm fairly fed up of hearing about Llanelli (a tiny insignificant town of about 100 people and some sheep in west Wales) beating the all blacks back in the 70s (Max Bloody Boyse)
posted by couch at 12:57 AM on September 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Whoa England beat USA 87-8 in June. That is way worse than losing 4-0 to Brazil, man.
posted by Mister_A at 1:16 AM on September 7, 2011


High tackles (i.e. above the shoulders are illegal). Not using your arms in the tackle (i.e. shoulder barging) is illegal. Spearing (i.e. tackling someone and dumping them headfirst) is illegal.
Yeah I was watching that clip going red card, red card, nice tackle, red card, shoeing unless the ref gets to him first....
And I'm really scared that shit is going to go down when the RWC ends and the ABs aren't the world champions of the world.
The pattern seems to be emerging that NZ peak between world cups with teams which play rugby at a different level than the rest (think 60/70s Brazil football, 20/30s Yankees baseball, Usain Bolt) and then the pressure builds, everyone catches up to them and they lose the world cup.

This year they are still head and shoulders above the rest at the world cup and the idea of them choking on home soil with unarguably the best team is both delicious and heart-breaking.

I'm sure I'm not alone amongst non-kiwis (except the Aussies) in being undecided if I would prefer my own country or NZ to win the world cup. Sure, normally beating NZ would be glorious, but the pressure the country has placed on the NZ team is cruel and unusual and I don't think I would wish that kind of backlash on anyone.

So for the next month NZ is a place where millions of people are holding their breath before cheering, crying or laughing.
posted by fullerine at 2:06 AM on September 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


And I'm really scared that shit is going to go down when the RWC ends and the ABs aren't the world champions of the world.

Quick - escape to Queenstown (or Dargaville) for that weekend :)

Seriously, I don't think NZ really has any history of sports-related violence (the obvious exception being 1981 Springbok tour protests, but that was nothing to do with sports really)

The whole of NZ* will be feeling morose for a couple of weeks, there will be demands for the coach to be fired, there will be tens of thousands of words written about how and why it went wrong in almost every publication in the country... But that's about the worst of it.

*Some Kiwis don't really give a shit, but after six weeks of hype it's hard not to get a little interested at the peak.

Also hal_c_on various suburbs in Auckland have adopted a second team - as an American you might want to head out to Mt Albert on game nights, they are you adoptive home for the cup...
posted by sycophant at 2:12 AM on September 7, 2011


Formidable as they are on paper, nobody should back the All Blacks at those odds, they're perennial World Cup favourites but tend to choke as predictably and badly as the South Africans in the cricket equivalent. South Africa and Australia are always tough contenders, France will always score tries so should never be written off and even though England aren't at their best they'll be right up there in contention. Let's hope there's some free flowing play in the early rounds, the Island nations entertain in their usual thrilling style and England grind out a contentious trench warfare 9 - 6 win in the final.
posted by joannemullen at 2:18 AM on September 7, 2011


A recent survey published in a national newspaper showed that about one third of NZers were actively dreading the RWC, and another third were indifferent, with only the remaining third looking forward to it. I myself missed out on the rugby gene and while I admire the athletic spectacle as I do any other demonstration of physical prowess, I frankly couldn't give a rats' arse about who wins. In fact, a small mean selfish part of me really hopes the All Blacks lose so that finally the very considerable resources we plow into this profit-making corporate monster could get deployed elsewhere, hopefully somewhere better.

On the one hand, rugby is a genuine popular cultural manifestation (cf football in Brazil) and at that level I support it on principle. On the other hand, it's been professionalised out of recognition over the last three decades and the country hasn't mentally caught up with the way our national game has been turned into a Murdoch profit centre.

Also, this post is is marvellously comprehensive, but not complete without a look at the Adidas All Blacks jersey controversy.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 2:23 AM on September 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


couch - I stand corrected: so much noise has been made about the Andy Haden incident I forgot that Wales had won in the distant past.
posted by MuffinMan at 2:38 AM on September 7, 2011


If you're going to mention the Jersey controversy, I'm going to mention the terrible horrible Abstain for the Game misstep from Telecom.
posted by WhackyparseThis at 3:13 AM on September 7, 2011


I've never followed rugby; I'm more of a soccer guy.

But I did work with a guy who played for the Springboks. I have never met a more solid and immovable object. He was about 5'-10", 375 lbs, and (unbelievably) not fat. Solid muscle.

I could not imagine a field full of angry men like that.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 3:31 AM on September 7, 2011


I'm calling it now - the All Blacks lose to France in the final. They lead out of the gate, get clobbered in the second half.
posted by Paragon at 3:38 AM on September 7, 2011


> couch - I stand corrected: so much noise has been made about the Andy Haden incident I forgot that Wales had won in the distant past.

I read his autobiography over a few boring late shifts. A NZ workmate had left it lying around. I thought he came across as somewhat of a prick, and boring. A boring prick.

Never heard of him before then and this is probably the first time I've thought of him since. I see his Wiki page mentions a racist controversy and the good ol' "women sports groupies are askin' for it" school of philosophy.

> I'm not seeing how this can be fun for the lesser squads.

I saw a NZ vs. Japan game in the 1990s and it was like watching a train wreck. "But I couldn't look away."
posted by uncanny hengeman at 3:47 AM on September 7, 2011


I'm calling it now - the All Blacks lose to France in the final. They lead out of the gate, get clobbered in the second half.

And when the captain is told to go to the dais to get the cup he tells the guy no need, because he has already got one.

Then he turns to his team mates and whispers "I told him we already got one!"
posted by uncanny hengeman at 3:54 AM on September 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Sorry everyone.

Australia will win the world cup, Australia or New Zealand
posted by the noob at 3:57 AM on September 7, 2011


Brilliant post, wilful.
posted by mosessis at 4:22 AM on September 7, 2011


Can't wait 'til it's over.

And I'm really scared that shit is going to go down when the RWC ends and the ABs aren't the world champions of the world.
There's a good argument that the 1981 Springbok Tour decided that year's election. It's an election year again.

Some Kiwis don't really give a shit, but after six weeks of hype it's hard not to get a little interested at the peak.
I've learnt one or two phrases that'll get you by if you're not a fan. "Yeah, they need to work harder at the breakdown"; "I was impressed by their second phase play, but their lineouts were atrocious"; "Talk about fuckin' Mickey Mouse refereeing...".

On the other hand, it's been professionalised out of recognition over the last three decades and the country hasn't mentally caught up with the way our national game has been turned into a Murdoch profit centre.
New Zealand rugby itself hasn't caught up with its own professionalism. If you play outside New Zealand you can pretty much say goodbye to any chance of playing for the All Blacks unless the New Zealand Rugby Union either approves or organises your overseas stint.
posted by doublehappy at 4:42 AM on September 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Great post.

If NZ play like they did in the first 20 minutes of the second half of the Tri-Nations decider against Australia, they will win the WC at a canter.

If they play like the other 60 minutes of the match (and especially the first half), they'll get knocked out at the semis regardless of who they play.
posted by bright cold day at 4:44 AM on September 7, 2011


I'm gonna be boring and suggest that it will be an All Blecks - Wobblies final. I can't see any team other than England in the mix, they could ruin the party, their ten man rugby is effective with northern hemisphere refereeing. I hope it stays nice and dry the whole time.
posted by wilful at 4:48 AM on September 7, 2011


But damn that Eden Park twilight gives me shivers.
posted by doublehappy at 4:51 AM on September 7, 2011


I'm hugely looking forward to this World Cup. Speaking as an Englishman, both of the last two tournaments have made fantastic viewing - the 2003 one because of the two well-oiled machines of England and Australia rumbling towards each other for an epic battle of epicness, the 2007 one because of England's scrappy underdog mentality turning around a dreadful start and winning match after match until giving SA (who had utterly thrashed us at the start of the tournament) a run for their money even in a heroic defeat.

This one has less obvious opportunity for England, as none of the Six Nations seem to really be up to the quality of any of the Tri-Nations, but it's a World Cup and anything can happen. And even though I'd love England to regain their crown, my realistic side hopes it's going to finally be the All Blacks' year.
posted by ZsigE at 4:55 AM on September 7, 2011


Thanks for this post. This will be my first year following the RWC, or really rugby at all. It seemed to be a perfect time to start really paying attention. The only real problem for me here in Baltimore is that the matches come on super early. I suppose I'm just going to have to tough it out. I mean, I should really be among the 12 USA nationals awake during their game against Russia.

"Yeah, they need to work harder at the breakdown"; "I was impressed by their second phase play, but their lineouts were atrocious"

Forgive my ignorance, but can someone tell me what these phrases mean?
posted by josher71 at 5:18 AM on September 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


josher71, see: Glossary of rugby union terms

The "breakdown" is the ensuing pile-on after a player gets tackled. Unlike in American football or rugby league, the ball remains live and contested, and extracting it (legally) from the melee is a brutal artform.

"Second phase play" refers to the passage of play after the ball is extracted from the breakdown. It's a nebulous term describing how the offensive side capitalises on any advantage gained by the player who was tackled to form the initial breakdown.

You'll hear references to teams stringing together series of "phases", from breakdown to breakdown to breakdown - i.e. third phase, fourth phase etc. The rising numbers really don't indicate anything other than extended periods of possession by the offensive team recycling the ball after a tackle, but commentators will use the term to give an indication of how effective or dominant an offensive team is being in the current play.

Alternatively, if an offensive team strings together several phases without advancing up the pitch, then the advantage could be seen to be with the defensive team, who will simply be holding the offensive line and waiting for the inevitable mistake.
posted by bright cold day at 5:33 AM on September 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Not entirely certain about all of these, but:

- "The breakdown" refers to the passage of play immediately after your ball carrier has been tackled to the floor, and the rest of your forwards all rush up to protect him and get the ball back to your scrum-half. If they don't work hard enough there, it slows play down, or can even result in the opposing team turning the ball over and getting to go on the offensive themselves.

- Play occurs in "phases", which run from breakdown to breakdown - so "second phase play" probably refers to how well you cope after the first time one of your guys gets tackled since you regained the ball. It's a phrase I haven't heard used myself.

- Lineouts are the way the ball gets put back into play after going over the touchline - the hooker of the team in possession throws the ball into play between two lines of players, one line from each team. The throw-in has to be straight, but only the possessing team know how far the ball's going to go, so they're more likely to win it back - a team that is bad at lineouts will win a much lower percentage of their own lineouts than one that is good at them.
posted by ZsigE at 5:34 AM on September 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Here's a nice little video that shows an atrocious lineout followed by a breakdown and second phase play.

The lineout is atrocious because Wales (in red) have the throw-in (which often guarantees possession), but Canada steals the ball. The ball is then passed out along the backline, where a player is tackled and the ball recycled from the breakdown (note all the players piling in). In the second phase the ball is kicked upfield for positional advantage (not classic second phase play - which would have seen the player run upfield - but technically second phase.)
posted by bright cold day at 5:40 AM on September 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Not rating Ireland's chances unfortunately. Irish teams have done amazingly well in club rugby over the last ten years, but the national team seems to be less than the sum of its parts at the moment.
posted by kersplunk at 5:53 AM on September 7, 2011


Oh great. Canada's in a pool with France *and* New Zealand. Good luck, boys.

And the wife will be cheering for Ireland, I suppose, but I'm not hearing good things about their chances this year either.
posted by antifuse at 6:06 AM on September 7, 2011


Mister A: I'm not seeing how this can be fun for the lesser squads.

Rugby is a sport of passion. Many of the minor nations will be made up of amateur players and this will be only opportunity they ever get to perform on the world stage. Winning a game for the likes of Georgia is the same as winning the World Cup for NZ... so the matches between the minnows are usually just as fierce and competitive as the ones between the top nations.

Based on what I remember from the last World Cup, what the smaller nations lack in skill, they make up for with effort and determination.
posted by afx237vi at 6:15 AM on September 7, 2011


Yes to afx237vi. Last time around, Portugal lost 108-13 to New Zealand. They were hammered. But one of their guys SCORED A TRY! Against the ALL BLACKS! He will remember that forever. He probably won't have to buy a drink in a rugby club in Portugal ever again. And yeah, the smaller nations can have good games against each other. Remember, they are amateurs playing a minority sport in their countries, so being able to play top teams in big stadiums has to be rewarding.
posted by Infinite Jest at 6:21 AM on September 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Correction, lineouts are a mechanism whereby Wales gives the ball to the other team for no reason.

On Preview: Bright Cold Day's video pretty much has it.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 6:35 AM on September 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


I like the betting you can make on these games.

Like the odds you can make on which rugby grinder will:

- Die by suicide within 5 years of retirement.
- Kill self, family within 10 years of retirement.
- Assault fan or spouse after picking up a drink driving "warning".

Blows to the head; it's what drives the wheels of betting commerce.

Sport is weird.
posted by clvrmnky at 6:38 AM on September 7, 2011


joannemullen: "England grind out a contentious trench warfare 9 - 6 win in the final."

why would you even say this? do you have no love for the game? i will cut you.
posted by soi-disant at 7:17 AM on September 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


RWC 2007 Tries
posted by PenDevil at 7:34 AM on September 7, 2011


they are amateurs playing a minority sport in their countries,

Isn't it a minority sport everywhere but NZ? And aren't there class connotations as well most places?
posted by JPD at 8:30 AM on September 7, 2011


Isn't it a minority sport everywhere but NZ? And aren't there class connotations as well most places?

I'm Welsh and it's the national sport here. A big international match dwarfs everything else here, even football (Wales played England in football last night and it only got a brief mention on the news). It's also a very working class sport here, concentrated around the former mining towns on the South Wales valleys.

It's a different story in England and Scotland. Rugby in those countries are associated with public schools (ie private schools), although that's not really the case any more.
posted by afx237vi at 8:38 AM on September 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


JPD: there's minority sports and there's minority sports.

Rugby is arguably a minority sport in e.g. England, Australia, France and Ireland, but still has a big enough fan and player base to have thousands of adherents/players, millions of fans and lots and lots of cash (through TV licences and sponsorship).

Rugby in second and third tier countries, e.g. USA, Japan, Canada might have a substantive player base of amateurs, but almost no recognition outside the immediate group of adherents (and hence not a lot of cash flowing in from TV or sponsorship). I cannot speak to the relative strength of rugby to other sports in Georgia or Romania, but I can't think it would be much.

On preview: afx237vi correctly nominates rugby as Wales' national sport. Possibly also the case for South Africa and the Pacific Island nations (Fiji, Tonga, Samoa).
posted by bright cold day at 8:48 AM on September 7, 2011


It's a pretty big deal in Argentina as well, although nowhere near as popular as football, of course. Still mostly amateur leagues, as far as i know, all the good players go to foreign leagues, mostly in Europe.

And it's also mostly popular with the middle/upper classes since it's very common for all the upscale british/irish private schools to have teams.

I guess there's a wikipedia article for this, just like everything else.
posted by palbo at 8:55 AM on September 7, 2011


Any news on the TV coverage in the US? Times of the matches, which channel(s) is going to show them?
posted by falameufilho at 9:16 AM on September 7, 2011




Rugby World Cup 2011 Calendar
posted by PenDevil at 9:32 AM on September 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Man, Universal sports wants 129 bucks for the WC online coverage. I am used to paying, like 30 bucks to see the whole tour de france, so this seems salty to me. any other resources (grey market is ok i guess)? I mean i wont mind shelling 20.99 for a big game, but i'd like to see some of the pool games as well, just not, for an arm and a leg.
posted by OHenryPacey at 9:49 AM on September 7, 2011


Go All Blacks!
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:50 AM on September 7, 2011


Speaking from experience, USA's Mike Petri hits pretty hard.
posted by Loto at 2:09 PM on September 7, 2011


Not much time left to the start, so if you want to make your picks and see how you score, download this spreadsheet from 4G Accounts. It's put together well, as alluded to in this AskMe.

Another interesting note is the impact of the Christchurch earthquakes on the RWC. The damage done to the local stadium has forced the organisers to abandon the city, in a sad time of need. They've then moved all the Christchurch games to other parks, and as a result the All Blacks only play a few games outside of fortress Eden Park. It's sad, because the expected increase in tourism sure could have helped the poor Cantabrians, but I guess if the central business district is still largely cordoned off, there's not a lot to visit at the moment.
posted by Metro Gnome at 3:31 PM on September 7, 2011


The ABs are rightly favourites, but they lost to both Australia and South Africa in the recent Tri Nations tournament, so it isn't quite a foregone conclusion. (Of course they lost to both away and beat them at home where the WC is being played).

I had my honeymoon in New Zealand just before the 2003 World Cup but just after New Zealand had beaten Australia by 50 odd points in that year's Tri Nations, a game that was mentioned to me repeatedly through the trip when locals heard my accent. Even though we lost the final to England, knocking New Zealand out in the semis almost warranted another trip over there to see if people still wanted to talk about rugby.
posted by markr at 3:50 PM on September 7, 2011


Go All Blacks!

flagged as noise.

One minorly interesting aspect of the amateurism/professionalism issue is that Rugby 7s is an Olympic sport from 2016 onwards. So national sporting institutes will be investing a lot more money into the game in otherwise second and third tier nations. Which can only be good for the game.

kersplunk, here's five reasons Ireland will win the World Cup. They wont of course, but Sean O'Brien is a mighty unit, I expect Ireland to beat Italy and come second in Pool C, and REALLY HURT the Saffies in the third quarterfinal.
posted by wilful at 4:24 PM on September 7, 2011


Gah! "Go All Blacks!" was supposed to be italicised (Mental Wimp's comment).
posted by wilful at 4:25 PM on September 7, 2011


Isn't it a minority sport everywhere but NZ? And aren't there class connotations as well most places?

Its huge in Australia. When I first came here I found myself working at Darling Harbor and ended up watching a World Cup match on an outdoor screen, cheering for Australia against the All-Blacks.

Now If I end up watching it (I won't) I guess I'll cheer for America, but despite knowing nothing about sport I know Australia will destroy them.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 4:35 PM on September 7, 2011


OHenryPacey: I recently axxed the same question, and the resulting thread has some options.

LiB: I dunno that I'd agree it's "huge" here - certainly Rugby League is bigger (and crappier), AFL is certainly more so again (particularly south of the Tweed). Rugby is the third-tier footballing option here, marginally above soccer.

bright cold day: If NZ play like they did in the first 20 minutes of the second half of the Tri-Nations decider against Australia, they will win the WC at a canter.
I dunno. Putting aside the other 60 minutes, although they were markedly improved for that 20 the Wobblies did manage to keep them out for 25 (or 26? or 27?) phases. That shows a remarkable lack of penetration.

That being said, like others I'm predicting a NZ/AU final. The Australian pool certainly looks to be one of (if not the) softest and, barring a French-led (and not forgetting the All Blacks B side in Tonga) upset, I reckon the kiwis will make it at least that far.

And please. Pretty please. Can the Samoans totally stomp the face out of South Africa? I promise I've been a good boy!
posted by coriolisdave at 4:50 PM on September 7, 2011


LiB: I dunno that I'd agree it's "huge" here - certainly Rugby League is bigger (and crappier), AFL is certainly more so again (particularly south of the Tweed). Rugby is the third-tier footballing option here, marginally above soccer.

Ah I thought they were all kinda the same thing, or that this was either AFL or League.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 5:04 PM on September 7, 2011


No, rugby in Aus is definitely second fiddle to the combined might of footy (AFL) and league (NRL). Our active playing numbers of union are very low compared to the major countries (SA, NZ, England).

(I have this fantasy where everyone in NSW and Qld wake up one day, realise how godawful league is and decide to just stop playing or watching it, turning to either footy or proper rugby - then the wallabies would be world number one pretty much forever (though that would be boring).)
posted by wilful at 5:10 PM on September 7, 2011


coriolisdave: thanks for the info... i was gonna do an askme myself but you've saved me the trouble.
posted by OHenryPacey at 5:29 PM on September 7, 2011


I have that dream too, wilful. Although I guess one has to be fair - although the game is dire, it does seem to have its talent-development shit together. Just look at the cross-over players!
posted by coriolisdave at 5:38 PM on September 7, 2011


*Some Kiwis don't really give a shit, but after six weeks of hype it's hard not to get a little interested at the peak.

It hasn't even started yet, and I'm already fed up to the back teeth with hearing about it.
posted by HiroProtagonist at 6:10 PM on September 7, 2011


(I have this fantasy where everyone in NSW and Qld wake up one day, realise how godawful league is and decide to just stop playing or watching it, turning to either footy or proper rugby...

Don't even start me.
posted by doublehappy at 9:52 PM on September 7, 2011


As a rugby union player [2 seasons at school, 3 seasons during university] who lives and grew up in a crazy mad AFL town, and wot played my first game aged ~14 because a teacher kept bugging me and BUGGING ME to give it a try, I have to say this:

RUGBY LEAGUE IS A MUCH BETTER SPORT TO WATCH ON TV

Rucks and mauls are ugly. The lineouts are a joke - getting rid of the "no lifting" rule means they look like this. There is way too much reward for scoring via penalty kick - BORIIIING [despite changing the scoring system to discourage this]. Plus that ticky touchwood tactic of kicking out of bounds on purpose to gain some yards before YET ANOTHER Micky Mouse lineout.

Not to be mixed up with what sport has the better CULTURE. I know plenty of "league" guys and I play touch rugby at a league club. I know which crew I'd rather have a beer with after the game.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 7:00 AM on September 8, 2011


Not to be mixed up with what sport has the better CULTURE. I know plenty of "league" guys and I play touch rugby at a league club. I know which crew I'd rather have a beer with after the game.
You're obviously not a dog.
posted by fullerine at 7:34 AM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Does class play into it in Australia as well?

(not to harp on the subject but I grew up playing a sport that has a huge class connotation in the US, and always sort of bothered me that kids got a free walk into better universities because they played a sport the best athletes who happened to be from poorer areas didn't play)
posted by JPD at 7:46 AM on September 8, 2011


You're obviously not a dog.

I was a pig. Hooker and prop. It sucked when I had to play against, like, proper grown men and stuff.

Does class play into it in Australia as well?


Where I'm from, it's an AFL city. Each city in Australia is either one or the other, although the line is blurring. When I was at school only the gang of seven self-proclaimed elite schools played it. So very much class there.

But at club rugby level there was a shiatload of backpackers and immigrants in all the clubs. Most of those seemed to be blue collar, most often skilled blue collar ie. with a trade. So it was a really good mix. Maybe as little as 33% of any club were born and bred.

Not sure what it's like in Sydney Brisbane or Canberra.

Even with all the extra free-to-air digital licences handed out, it's still rare to get a rugby league game before midnight in Perth. Just because we're a "traditional AFL town" NO RUGBY FOR YOU! It's v.annoying because I like watching it.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 9:47 AM on September 8, 2011


huge class connotation in the US

Sorry just noticed your "connotation" bit.

To finish answering your question. Yes, from a connotation point of view, despite the makeup of grass roots rugby union here. You'll often see sponsorships from Chartered firms. Law firms, and engineering firms would have boxes for the Super14 games. There would be much hobnobbery and people "flying in for the game" and high level networking and scheming and pissing in pockets going on at the after game buffet.

That seems to be the social set rugby union likes to think it belongs.
There are some very powerful and very rich Australians passionate about their AFL, don't get me wrong. But rugby union maintains the wank-factor edge because it's international. And because toffs from other countries hang out at games and you get a chance to bump into them, I guess.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 10:07 AM on September 8, 2011


That try by Tonga vs. New Zealand was freaken amazing. The "three card trick" if I'm not mistaken. He went hard and high. Nearly everything else had been hard and low.

In their first push there was, what, 10 phases of play? Absolutely unheard of 20 years ago.

And how many grinding phases overall? Lots. Huge props to the NZ defence for holding them out so long.

And props to Kearnsie, for those watching the Aussie Foxtel feed. He called it right at the start. "Tonga has to be patient, here." And how. That's the best team try I've seen in my life.

posted by uncanny hengeman at 3:20 AM on September 9, 2011


And already we are getting the "New Zealand aren't performing". Brent Pope here on Irish telly was saying that they won't be happy with that. Sheesh, talk about your different levels :) I'd be delighted if we beat anyone 41-10

But great work by Tonga for their try. Great work by the whole team and great individual work by Taumalolo.
posted by Fence at 3:47 AM on September 9, 2011


(not to harp on the subject but I grew up playing a sport that has a huge class connotation in the US, and always sort of bothered me that kids got a free walk into better universities because they played a sport the best athletes who happened to be from poorer areas didn't play)

Worth remembering that the university issue, at least, wouldn't apply in countries like Australia, NZ, UK, because university sports are mostly unimportant there.

I agree with uncanny hengeman about the general culture though: rugby league is definitely working class in NZ and England, and played mostly in parts of the country. Rugby union is a game for everyone in NZ (rural/urban, working/middle/upper class), whereas in England it's more of a game for the middle/upper class, and played in the south.
posted by Infinite Jest at 4:41 AM on September 9, 2011


My 10-year-old son plays rugby so I shouldn't click on the last link, right?
posted by Lezzles at 9:47 AM on September 9, 2011




Fence: And already we are getting the "New Zealand aren't performing". Brent Pope here on Irish telly was saying that they won't be happy with that. Sheesh, talk about your different levels :) I'd be delighted if we beat anyone 41-10

Without reading the article*, I have to agree that the AB's weren't great last night. They looked particularly lacklustre in the second half, very much like they played for much of final TriNations game. If they play like that against France they could be in real strife.


* On mefi? Nevar!

posted by coriolisdave at 3:08 PM on September 9, 2011


Worth remembering that the university issue, at least, wouldn't apply in countries like Australia, NZ, UK, because university sports are mostly unimportant there.
It does have an impact at high school level, however. My school devoted considerable money and resources to rugby and very little to football and none at all to league. I wanted to play league but, at the time, the nearest opportunity would have been a good half hour drive away. There were a good twenty or so kids that were brought to the school specifically to play rugby, and the school would often cancel non rugby events (including, for example, class) where they clashed with rugby fixtures. Once, my football team had our game cancelled so the First XV could use our field for warm ups for their game on a different field. Chanting and haka and watching the match were enforced, occasionally with violence. I finished high school in 2003. Read this paragraph in the knowledge that my bitterness about my high school's culture and pedagogy runs very deep - and I was reasonably well liked and sport mad.

I agree with uncanny hengeman about the general culture though: rugby league is definitely working class in NZ and England, and played mostly in parts of the country. Rugby union is a game for everyone in NZ (rural/urban, working/middle/upper class), whereas in England it's more of a game for the middle/upper class, and played in the south.
Can't argue with that re: NZ. However, I will say that, having gone to a couple hundred rugby and league games in my life, I feel far safer and more comfortable in a league crowd. They seem to have more fun. Even watching the All Blacks v Tonga game last night, there seemed to be a lack of atmosphere (compare the Lions Tours for example).

Anyway, go the Warriors, and the All Blacks, I guess..
posted by doublehappy at 3:32 PM on September 9, 2011


Haven't been to too many league games, but I agree with you there. And good point about school rugby (if you went to school in Welli, I can guess within one or two which school you were at, I was at one of them myself).

Anyway, are we using this thread for in-game discussion? France-Japan is turning into a great game.
posted by Infinite Jest at 12:20 AM on September 10, 2011


England-Argentina is The Game of Infinite Penalties. Argentina are making better use of their penalties than England -- Wilkinson is having a terrible game. I think he's at 0 for 4?
posted by tracicle at 2:51 AM on September 10, 2011


Anyway, are we using this thread for in-game discussion?

I guess so. Can someone point me in the right direction if I've missed the boat.

Which nation you guys reckon has come along the most in the last generation?

How many of you spring chickens remember how bad the Islander nations used to be? Fiji was OK, but Samoa and Tonga were absolute jokes.

But for mine it would have to be the Pumas. Just for the added fact that they are such a soccer mad country. As an outsider, that seems like an impressive achievement to get them up to speed so quickly. I can't see why they won't be admitted into the southern hemisphere "Tri Nations" tournament very soon.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 3:25 AM on September 10, 2011



Which nation you guys reckon has come along the most in the last generation?


I've always thought there ought to be a west indies type situation for the pacific islanders, at least for some competition, maybe super rugby, or Trinations (to be four, plus pacifics would make five I guess).

I predict that you'll see a lot more decent rugby come the 2019 world cup - three years after the first Rugby 7s at the olympics. A few nations will see that as an opportunity to invest in a new sport.
posted by wilful at 3:59 AM on September 10, 2011


Frankly, I think England squeaked a win and that game has to have shaken their confidence. Pumas played very well and were unlucky not to have their lead stick. Wilkinson's lack of form is worrying; after all this time there's no real replacement for Johnny.
posted by arcticseal at 5:29 AM on September 10, 2011


uncanny hengeman: I can't see why they won't be admitted into the southern hemisphere "Tri Nations" tournament very soon.
Dude - next year. I'd not realised it, but they finished THIRD in the 2007 RWC, topping their pool (over France) and beating them 34 - 10 in the bronze-final. They got fairly stomped by the saffers though in the semis (37-13) but who didn't?

arcticseal: Frankly, I think England squeaked a win and that game has to have shaken their confidence. Pumas played very well and were unlucky not to have their lead stick. Wilkinson's lack of form is worrying; after all this time there's no real replacement for Johnny.

Thank goodness for that. I can't think of anything I'd like less than yet another WC being decided by Johnnie's left boot. GO AWAY YOU STINKY PERSON.
posted by coriolisdave at 2:32 PM on September 10, 2011


coriolisdave - couldn't agree more. I'm fed up of games being decided by kicking, need more incentive for teams to push for a try. Wilkinson needs to retire already.
posted by arcticseal at 7:37 PM on September 10, 2011


Bloody hell. I honestly didn't know that. I even wrote that comment before I knew how well they were going against England.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 10:23 PM on September 10, 2011


Just watched our game against the US. Good god, no offence to the American team but we were just dire. Fair play to the US for that intercept try though.

Nobody apart from maybe Ferris & POC in the lineout really showed up for us. BOD was anonymous, D'Arcy hasn't had a good game in an age.

Given the rate of kickers missing so far you'd have to wonder whats going on with the ball/conditions.
posted by Fence at 1:02 AM on September 11, 2011


Unfortunately, Fence, given the known-quality of the Aussie kickers and their not-shocking success rate in our game? Absolutely nothing is going on.

Meanwhile, well into the second half of the South Africa/Wales game and the Saffers aren't doing well at all. I like the look of the Welsh play - nicely organised, good runners, if a little unimaginative. Good strong tacklers, too - nothing I enjoy more than watching Steyn getting absolutely pasted.
posted by coriolisdave at 2:55 AM on September 11, 2011


Also, the ref in this game is much preferable to mr penalise-Australia from our game. I particularly enjoy him shoeing the support staff and waterboys off the field quickly after someone went down - no long stoppage for him! Get up ya sook, or get off!
posted by coriolisdave at 3:03 AM on September 11, 2011


well I wasn't too unhappy wit the wallabies game. Mostly looked the goods. Genia was bloody good, Cooper was flash without being too flash, forwards kept up with the italians in the scrums (good scrummaging too), nice first hit out
posted by wilful at 4:29 AM on September 11, 2011


Nice podcast, wrap-up of the Cup so far. Commenting how there seem to be no easy-beats these days, even the Namibians gave Fiji a run.
posted by wilful at 4:39 PM on September 11, 2011


Good to see some nice old fashioned northern hemisphere refereeing doing its best to make this World Cup as boring as the last one. Also applause to the sides that forgot that there are players with numbers higher than 10 on their jumpers.
posted by markr at 5:32 PM on September 11, 2011


Wales:Springboks game was good, enjoyed it more than the England:Argentina match. Shame for Wales to lose as they looked the better side, but that try by Hougaard was pretty spectacular.
posted by arcticseal at 6:01 PM on September 11, 2011


I was cheering for Wales, and then remembered that, if things go well, the Wallabies play the second placed team from that group in the quarters, which will probably be the loser of that game, and I'd prefer that was Wales. The most I could muster was cheering for Wales less.
posted by markr at 6:06 PM on September 11, 2011


I know where you're coming from, markr, but I'd really like to see a Wallabies/Wales game - two teams fwho'd rather play with ball-in-hand? Yum yum yes please.
posted by coriolisdave at 8:18 PM on September 11, 2011


The best thing about the pool stages is the shift in emphasis round to round. After the first round of matches Australia seemed to play the best of the favourites, but until everyone plays someone else there's no frame of reference.

Did England make Argentina look good or did Argentina make England look bad? How strong are Tonga? Did NZ hammer a good team or did they under perform against "minnows". (scare quotes because one thing we can infer from the first round of matches is there are no bloody "minnows" any more!)

Basically, what I am saying is Wales are going to win the Rugby World Cup and Sam Warburton is the next stage of human evolution.
posted by fullerine at 1:38 AM on September 12, 2011


I have a sneaking suspicion noone would actually mind that much if Wales won. A small spark of "bum" followed by a strong rush of "..but at least it wasn't the fkn saffers again".
posted by coriolisdave at 3:37 AM on September 12, 2011


With a fully fit team I'd actually be quite confident of beating the Aussies.

The reason South Africa had such a startled look on their faces during that match is because the Welsh team is seriously hard now. They surprised the Bokke who were out-muscled by a back row made up of kids (Faletau - 20 ,Warburton - 22, Lydiate - 23).

I hope the Welsh team look at the South Aftrican game and think there is no reason for them to have lost that match other than the lack of focus for the SA try and therefore by extension there is actually no reason they can't go on to win this whole thing.

They won't (the squad is paper-thin), but it would be nice for them to believe it for once.
posted by fullerine at 3:48 AM on September 12, 2011


Yeah. As I recall, they also missed (two? three?) shots at penalty. Even one of those slotting home and BAM sucked-in-saffers.

Definite props to the Welsh scrum, too.
posted by coriolisdave at 3:54 AM on September 12, 2011


Oh man, looks like Wales actually didn't miss one of those shots. The fix is in!! ;)
posted by coriolisdave at 2:03 PM on September 12, 2011


>Commenting how there seem to be no easy-beats these days, even the Namibians gave Fiji a run.

>The reason South Africa had such a startled look on their faces during that match is because the Welsh team is seriously hard now.


And Romania [vs. Scotland]. Bloody hell there are some seriously BIG, HARD units in that team. What the fark have these "minnow" nations been doing the last few years? Colour me very impressed.

The 2nd half try by Namibia vs. Fiji had it all. A flashy run from their back. Followed by pure physical intimidation from their forwards. And a pretty bloody special finish from their #4.

I'm seriously thinking about revising my rash "rugby league is better to watch" statement above. To quote UFCs Joe Rogan: "WOW!"
posted by uncanny hengeman at 7:42 PM on September 12, 2011


Oh man, looks like Wales actually didn't miss one of those shots. The fix is in!! ;)

Well, the match was being refereed by Englishman Wayne Barnes, the most evil man in the world. And SA winning keeps them out of England's side of the draw (assuming both go on to top their groups). Just like when Barnes' "unique" refeering decisions knocked NZ out of the 2007 Cup, when they were due to play England.
posted by Infinite Jest at 11:51 PM on September 12, 2011


If ever one of the smaller teams is going to knock over one of the bigger teams, I believe it might just be Georgia giving Scotland a surprise tomorrow.
posted by afx237vi at 1:22 PM on September 13, 2011


Who's going to win Russia versus the USA?
posted by wilful at 9:51 PM on September 13, 2011


Current frontrunner for "Most Epic Beard" is this Canadian gent. Go Canucks!
posted by coriolisdave at 11:02 PM on September 13, 2011


That's better than Sebastien Chabal (who sadly isn't playing this RWC).
posted by wilful at 11:48 PM on September 13, 2011


I just want to say that the official site having the match videos in full 24 hrs after they are played is bloody fantastic; as is the optional switch to show scores or not.
posted by arcticseal at 1:33 AM on September 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Gargh. Just realised Channel flipping 9 is playing the Australia/Ireland game on delay!! (At least, here in Brisbane). What the hell, people?
posted by coriolisdave at 10:37 PM on September 16, 2011


Jaysuss. Perth, I can understand through painful experience. But a delayed telecast in Brisbane? Sheesh.

While I'm here: USA vs. Russia. Boriiiing! I dunno who bought who down to whose level, but gawd that was a boring error-riddled game. They could have at least had a fight about the whole 1989 fall-of-the-wall business.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 10:43 PM on September 16, 2011


Insult to injury - the Saffer/Fiji game is live.


Wait, that's a good thing. STOMP THEM HARD, FIJI.
posted by coriolisdave at 11:22 PM on September 16, 2011


Gargh. Just realised Channel flipping 9 is playing the Australia/Ireland game on delay!! (At least, here in Brisbane). What the hell, people?
NRL Semi-Finals > Rugby World Cup Group matches between two minor teams.
posted by doublehappy at 11:44 PM on September 16, 2011


NRL Semi-Finals > Rugby World Cup Group matches between two minor teams.
Flagged as "gratuitously obvious trolling"
posted by coriolisdave at 11:53 PM on September 16, 2011


The golden girls is what they've chosen to show instead.


GGAAAAAHHHAHHHHHHHH
posted by wilful at 1:11 AM on September 17, 2011


I'm calling gratuitously obvious double troll!

Tonga vs. Major Team, Namibia vs. Major Team, Romania vs. Major team were fantastic opening games. All great TV viewing experiences.

But Minor Team vs. Minor Team in the RWC? Give me the NRL semis any day.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 1:21 AM on September 17, 2011


wilful: The golden girls is what they've chosen to show instead.
I distinctly recall the major advertising prior to these additional digital channels going live, promising MORE SPORTING EVENTS and DIFFERENT STUFF and NOT SHIT PROGRAMMING.

LIARS!
posted by coriolisdave at 1:52 AM on September 17, 2011


Come on Ireland!!!!
We don't need to win the RWC, that performance against Australia is enough to make this a RWC to celebrate :)
posted by Fence at 3:16 AM on September 17, 2011


Well that was pretty great.
posted by doublehappy at 3:29 AM on September 17, 2011


Excellent game (and not just because I wanted to see Ireland win, though that helps). Few good upsets or near upsets already, not too many blowouts, full stadia. Looks like a pretty good World Cup from this distance.

Anyone in the UK should know that ITV.com are streaming many of the games (spent yesterday morning in a teleconference while watching NZ-Japan, made my day).
posted by Infinite Jest at 5:18 AM on September 17, 2011


Some decent games so far. It kind of looks like Pool B is the most uncertain of who precisely will go trough in the second slot, but no real shockers of how it is forming up. Unless one of the big boys unexpectedly drops a game to a tier 2:
NZ, Fra, Eng, Ire, Aus, SA, Wal, then either Arg or Scot depending on how they shake out. who wins the pool and who is runner up is all up in the air. NZs first real challenge is coming up, and while I think they will prevail, the beloved ABs have choked before (might be too early in the tourny for that yet though, gotta get the hopes up more for maximal effect)
posted by edgeways at 2:34 PM on September 18, 2011


Wow just catching up to this now. I'm a Canadian rugby fan and former player (McGill, clubs in Ottawa, Banff, and Montreal) and I'm following this (and every) RWC very closely.

Wrap up so far: The story of the 2007 RWC may have been how far the fully professional teams had progressed compared to the tier 2 teams, except for the major exception of Argentina. If anything, the story this time around is how much the minnows have caught up. Not that there are many true upsets in the making between major nations and smaller ones, but in many cases they can keep the result in question for at least a half or 60 minutes.

Case in point - Canada v France. At one point about 10 minutes into the second half the Canadians were threatening a try to even the score. If they had been able to score the try and if Pritchard had been a little more successful hitting his penalty kicks, the result (which flattered France) might have been a lot different.

I think one way to look at it is to not think of tier 1 and tier 2 teams at all but to split it up a little more finely. The true Tier 1 teams are few: NZ, AUS, England, FR, SA. Behind that are the other home nations - Wales, Ireland, Scotland, plus Argentina. Any of those can (rarely) beat the top teams on the day, but are not real threats. Ireland's success the other day against Australia was a big deal and upsets the whole draw for the knockout stages.

Behind this group are a rag-tag bunch of others: Italy, Samoa, Fiji, Japan, probably Georgia, Canada, Tonga. Games between two teams in this group are truly in doubt every time AND the rugby played is of a pretty high standard - which these days seems to be correlated with the ability to play the ball for multiple phases including both forwards and backs.

Behind this are the true minnows - Romania, US, Russia, Namibia, Uruguay (not in RWC), Portugal (not in RWC). People will protest and say that the US is pretty much as good as Canada - but since 2005 Canada is up something like 10-1 in wins over the US.

The trick is that in this RWC the whole structure seems to be tightening up quite a bit. Ireland beat Australia! Samoa gave Wales a real run for its money.

For the future, Argentina could be scary. They're joining the Tri-Nations next year concurrent with the sport becoming professional for the first time - to date it's been amateur (though the good players all play in Europe full time). Scotland stands a real risk of moving back to the pack with Italy and the rest - there will be calls within the next few years for their to be a relegation system for the 6 nations to let Georgia and/or Romania play with the top group in Europe. The second-tier championship in Europe - the European Nations Cup - is proving to be a competitive tournament fostering the quick development of the sport in Russia, Romania, Georgia, etc.

The open question has always been how to improve things in Canada and the US. The IRB has tried many formulas - the Pac Rim tournament, Churchill Cup, etc. but it's just too difficult to get either nation regular games - in particular when top players are split between North America, Europe and the Southern Hemisphere - the travel to put together a top flight side is difficult. So for both, coming 3rd in their pool is critical - this guarantees a slot in the annual international test schedule, which is pretty much the only way to get good.

Anyhow - sorry it's a bit of an essay by now but the question of how to rank teams and how to foster the international development of the sport is really interesting... to me at least!!
posted by mikel at 9:51 PM on September 18, 2011 [5 favorites]


Mikel - go right ahead and wirte more essays. I only saw a little of the Canada:France match due to family commitments, but from the part I watched, it looked like the Canadians were keeping the French honest. This is a good thing. Great WC so far.
posted by arcticseal at 1:16 AM on September 19, 2011


I really wish there were a Plate competition. In many rugby tournaments, including the IRB Sevens tour, once you get to the knockout phase the top teams play for the Cup - the overall championship - but the teams that don't make the main draw keep playing in their own knockout bracket for a second-tier prize - i.e., the Plate (next level down is the Bowl).

In the RWC this would mean the 3 & 4 teams in each group would continue - and these teams would gain valuable experience and extend their RWC experience.

In practice this probably would mean Canada, Japan, Scotland, Georgia, Italy, US, Samoa and Fiji - which just on its own would be an amazing competition. Scotland (who I pick behind Argentina in the pools) would be the prohibitive favourite, along with Samoa, but really anyone could come out on top. I kind of wonder if this doesn't happen because when Scotland doesn't make the knockout phases they get to go home and say "we had a bad tournament" whereas if they were to lose in a secondary competition, the reality of how far they have fallen might actually become evident.
posted by mikel at 7:49 AM on September 19, 2011


Great summary up there, mikel. There are definitely 4 tiers – I've never seen or heard that articulated before. I like how you gave A- ratings to Wales, Ireland, and Scotland. Harsh but fair.

USA have been the disappointment for me over the last two RWCs, compared to improvements in other B and C rated teams. I follow USA a lot more than I would in a parallel universe, but my ex roomie is a mad rugby fan who plays[ed] for UCONN and Hartford Wanderers.

Speaking of which, he gave Rugby a shot because he was was sick of the nepotism and asskissing that went on at the UCONN Lacrosse program. That's what I don't understand about the USA team. Surely there must be thousands of huge strong American men that would spill over from sports like American football? Your Brock Lesnar types.

The USA Rugby team just seem like a bunch of average sized plodders – even their Polynesian players. For example, the Romanians look much bigger and meaner.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 6:51 PM on September 19, 2011


Yeah I remember back in the day wondering what would happen if you gave Walter Payton the #13 jersey and two years of training! More currently someone like Danny Woodhead looks like an ideal candidate at hooker or something. Troy Polamalu is even Samoan - he'd be an amazing winger or fullback!
posted by mikel at 9:08 AM on September 20, 2011


looks like Argentina is the odds on favorite to go trough to next round now. To face NZ
posted by edgeways at 9:25 AM on September 25, 2011


Watched ARG:SCO last night, good match and that last try by Argentina was damn good.
Samoa:Fiji wasn't as good but still enjoyable. That Samoan pack is huge.
posted by arcticseal at 4:51 PM on September 25, 2011


My mum is huge.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 9:45 PM on September 25, 2011


The SA/Samoa game could prove fun. Wales technically beat SA, and only beat Samoa by 7. If I where the Sringboks I'd be taking this game pretty serious
posted by edgeways at 12:01 PM on September 27, 2011


I'm just dreaming about Italy beating Ireland.
posted by wilful at 8:26 PM on September 27, 2011


I'm just dreaming about Italy beating Ireland.

Once you only dream it everything will be fine!
posted by Fence at 10:37 AM on September 28, 2011


The England Scotland game was a cracker. I was so hoping that Scotland woudl score a try, they really deserved one.
posted by wilful at 3:49 AM on October 1, 2011


England were damned lucky to win that game. It was fun to watch, especially all the Scots get excited in the bar I was in and then go suddenly quiet 5 mins before the end.

Now France:Tonga was an excellent match, great result and Tonga played their hearts out.
posted by arcticseal at 8:15 AM on October 1, 2011


I'm just dreaming about Italy beating Ireland.
...
Once you only dream it everything will be fine!


Looks like somebody's dream came true! My wife is from Ireland, she says people are going nuts at home after that victory yesterday :)
posted by antifuse at 7:09 AM on October 3, 2011


We are certainly all very happy here. Especially after our pre-WC games were so bad.
Worried about Wales now.
posted by Fence at 11:14 AM on October 3, 2011


I'm kind of thinking Wales:New Zealand in the final at the moment.
posted by arcticseal at 4:15 PM on October 3, 2011


IRELAND v WALES

Big tough match, probably the most interesting one. I expect it to be close. Wales should win.

ENGLAND v FRANCE

England. Boring, ugly rugby does it in World Cups every time.

SOUTH AFRICA v AUSTRALIA

Second most interesting match. I think it will be close, but I would be confident in backing Australia if they got a good price from the bookies (i.e. weren't favourites).

NEW ZEALAND v ARGENTINA

Happy that Los Pumas made it to the quarters. But no they wont make it past here - if they did, I would fear for the NZ economy.

____________

So if my predictions come true, that'll be NZ v AUS and ENG v WAL in the semis. Again with the close matches (as it should be at this stage), but you'd have to expect a NZ v ENG final. In that case, I would definitely be cheering for the all blicks.
posted by wilful at 4:41 PM on October 3, 2011


Here are the odds:

Ireland vs Wales 1.78 : 2.26
England vs France 1.60 : 2.56
South Africa vs Australia 2.09 : 1.91
New Zealand vs Argentina 1.02 : 21.0

So the punters have Ireland down as favourites. Australia's price is propped up by optimistic Aussie money, NH punters have the springboks and wallabies tied.
posted by wilful at 4:48 PM on October 3, 2011


It's weird how it all lined up that all the quarter, semi, and finals are North/South aligned. NZ/AU/SA/ARG are all on a line and ENG/WA/IRE/FR and all clumped together.

Fra and Arg definitely seem the weakest and NZ Eng the strongest. Been a little surprised at the cracks in both AU and SA, by all rights Wales should be atop group D, and wouldn't be shocked at all if the drubbed Ire.

How NZ handles Arg will be a big indicator of how an ENG/NZ final would play out. Eng only managed a 4 pt win over Arg (imagine if Argentina managed to win that game hee).

Personally I'm hoping Wales gets past not only Ire but wallops Eng as well and NZ/Wales is a great game with the All Blacks winning in style.
posted by edgeways at 10:56 PM on October 3, 2011


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