I was fortunate enough to attend the France versus Argentina match last night (Rugby World Cup 2007) and was flabbergasted by the host’s performance. The 17-12 victory by the Argentne Pumas was well merited. Despite a French pack that, contrary to the weight inferiority, dominated the scrums and line outs, the game was lost by the backs where the French three-quarters were taken by assault by repeated up-and-unders. Poor receptions and scattered responses made for a poor sight. And, the Argentine pack constantly wrecked havoc on the French set plays. Not least, the Puma tackling was merciless.
So much for the grand opening.
Today, Saturday, saw the Kiwi All Blacks and Aussie wallabies maul, if not massacre, their minnow rivals (Italy and Japan respectively). At 72-14 and 91-3, the scores ressembled cricket scores (granted there are only ten wickets).
The English victory over the USA at 28-10 is a difficult one for me…my split loyalties — brought up in Blighty, I have always supported the English team. But, as an American, haven’t had much opportunity to support a US team — much less at the World Cup.
I would have expected a mauling much the Southern Hemisphere teams did to their Northern foe. Maybe the historical rapprochement between the UK and US makes it difficult for the Limeys want to crush the Yanks? In any event, a more than respectable outing for the Americans. Given a few different quirks and bounces, the game might even have been closer.
Between the French loss, the English middling performance and the NZ and Australian dominance, it’s hard not to call the latter victors in waiting.
Yet, it’s a long tournament. Seven weeks. Injuries, weather and fitness may yet influence the results. Here’s to the occasional upset. At least it keeps things exciting.