October 15, 2007

England beat France: and South Africa beat Argentina, lining up a final in the Rugby World Cup between two teams who met in the pool stages a month ago. South Africa won that game 36-0 and England looked like they might be lucky to escape their group, but somehow, everything has changed. Maybe it's the broccoli Martin Corry eats for breakfast, or maybe rugby is a game that values will over skill. They have struggled with the title of World Champions, but could England do the unthinkable and become the first team to ever retain the RWC on Saturday night? The bookies think not, but England have already proved them wrong twice.

posted by JJ to other at 08:37 AM - 16 comments

Even if we collapse in the final and lose 36-0 again it'll be an improvement on what was expected as the team limped into the tournament. The Aussies seemed to think they'd beat England by just putting their jerseys on and if France had played anything like they did against the Kiwis, they would have sent us home too as we were simply horrible. The lineouts and, shockingly for England, the kicking were just terrible and yet, there we are in the final. I can't believe the South Africans will choke the way the French did, but if we can move their pack, something Argentina managed, then who knows.

posted by Mr Bismarck at 09:04 AM on October 15

England beat France : and South Africa beat Argentina JJ, Those of us here in the States interested in the Rugby World Cup have to watch it on tape delay. The Eng v Aus and Fra v NZ games came on Sunday morning at 5:30am for the first time. Now, thanks to unavoidable spoilers in the headline, I don't have to worry with actually watching the matches! Woo Hoo! More time for fun stuff like washing dishes and laundry. Thankx

posted by r8rh8r27 at 02:16 PM on October 15

I watched both semis here in beautiful downtown Apia. The Samoan view, with which I concur, is that they can't believe how bad the final four teams were, and the poor quality of play in both games. England-France looked like a throwback to the amateur days of the 70s. The mistakes in the Sth Africa-Argentina game made it look like an average club game. In fact, the whole tournament has not exactly been a ringing endorsement of attractive rugby. But I guess this only proves that the current rules and interpretations mean winning ugly. None of the more skilful players seem to have had the opportunity to display their talents. Before anyone says it - this applies to Australia and NZ as well as the semi finalists. If this is the game they play in heaven, I prefer to be with the devil, football and even rugby league. And the best tunes.

posted by owlhouse at 03:29 PM on October 15

During the first semi final, my mind was drawn to a conundrum. By trying to stop rugby being played, are you still actually playing rugby? Sorry if I'm being too negative, but I was reading about Wittgenstein over the weekend.

posted by owlhouse at 05:21 PM on October 15

I don't think so owlhouse, because that is still rugby, just a different style of rugby. That being said I really, really don't want England to win. But I don't want SA to win either. So it is a lose-lose situation. I'm guessing once the match starts I'll cheer for SA. It seems to me though that no team has really gone out and won a big match, instead their opposition have lost games through mistakes. Scotland could have won against Argentina if they'd had a bit of belief earlier. New Zealand made plenty of mistakes in their game, and blaming the ref is just taking the loss badly (though it was a forward pass). Course I read articles like this on on The Roar which has lines like "there are some damning statistics about a spike in women requiring refuge on Sunday October the seventh" and it makes me glad that we don't take our rugby that seriously.

posted by Fence at 03:32 AM on October 16

That being said I really, really don't want England to win. But I don't want SA to win either. Maybe "sport will be the winner." Heh. Fat chance.

posted by Abiezer at 04:46 AM on October 16

I'm surprised by the level of negativity. I've found this World Cup easily the best tournament in the competition's twenty year history from a spectator's point of view. I think it threatened to be the World Cup where the physically biggest, most professional, best prepared team won at a canter, but really it has served to highlight the importance of other facets of the game. You can be as big as you like, but without the ball, you can't play. You can score as many beautiful tries as you like, but if, when it comes right down to it, you're too stupid to have a go for a drop goal in the last ten minutes because you thought you'd inevitably "score a try", then you deserve to go out in the quarter finals. There have been plenty of mistakes, but anyone who remembers any game of rugby - even the greatest ever played - without mistakes is a fool to themselves and making stuff up. It's a game of mistakes and of imperfection. It's a game of spoiling. It's a game of cheating and who can get away with it. And all of that is what makes the moments of brilliance shine. This is widely considered the greatest try ever; even though the final pass was forward, it still gives me shivers to see it (and hear the commentator). More important than the mistakes (or possibly because of them), it has been a world cup filled with tension and excitement, much of which has been thanks to England. Despite being Irish and being strictly raised to support ABE (Anyone But England), I cheered for them four years ago, and despite having been born in South Africa, I'll do it again this time, with even more gusto, because this time, they're underdogs. We shall see what Saturday brings. It would have to be a hell of a game to rival the tension of four years ago, but if they're still in it with 20 minutes to go, I think the English will win it, having forged a bond in adversity that South Africa haven't had to.

posted by JJ at 05:34 AM on October 16

I've just calculated I'll be watching the final from the coffee bar at Auckland airport on Saturday morning. That should be fun. At least I'll get a good seat. In Samoa, we get the NZ TV news every night. The loss against France/overall performance at World Cup is still one of the top 3 stories in each bulletin. Dear God, get over it. However what has popped up are some stories reagrding hosting the RWC in 2011: - NZ Rugby is having a financial crisis, partly due to the early exit this time round - they want to reduce the tournament to 16, as they feel their infrastructure can't cope with 20 - the proposed new stadium in Auckland has been canned, while the newly elected local council won't stump up for renovating Eden Park

posted by owlhouse at 07:16 PM on October 16

.... while the Japanese - inexplicably denied the host's role - probably have stadiums coming out of their ears! No doubt you've seen this, Owlhouse, but just in case you haven't!

posted by JJ at 04:09 AM on October 17

Auckland airport on Saturday morning Better make that Sunday morning. I'm crossing the date line. Duh. Thanks JJ, I'll pass it on. It's cruel, but oh so true. PS: No facet of life is immune. Last night's NZ news compared a Kiwi author not winning the Man Booker Prize to the rugby quarter final loss. Can they blame the judging panel?

posted by owlhouse at 03:10 PM on October 17

My favourite so far: What's the difference between the All Blacks and an arsonist? An arsonist would never lose his last match. owlhouse - I suspect it's justyou and me left at the bottom of this particular ruck, so I'll risk a guidline breach and use this as a personal message board - I know you cut about the south pacific a lot, although I'm not sure you ever go as far west as Singapore, but I thought I ought to flag up that I'll be there from 27th Oct to 1st November. I'm speaking at a conference and so on, but should have some down time on the off chance that you're in the vicinity. I'm going to hit the sevens tournament they have on there on Sunday the 28th at the SCC. If by some quirk of fate you're in the vicinity, we should meet up and cry into our respective pints about the fact that England won the World Cup again (or the boks - it's a no win final for an Irishman and an Aussie really, even ones with South African and English heritage).

posted by JJ at 07:01 AM on October 18

Thanks JJ. Sounds like a great idea. Unfortunately the timing is a bit off. I will be going through Singapore a week or so later in transit to Jakarta. I have friends in Singapore and often stay over the weekend. Let me know if you are out this way again and we could try and catch up for a quiet ale.

posted by owlhouse at 02:22 PM on October 18

Shame, but glad I asked. Will probably do another SE Asia tour (this time of Jakarta, Singapore, KL, Bangkok, Hanoi, Phenom Peng and Shanghai) sometime early in the new year to try and sell the study I'm researching on this trip, so I'll keep you posted.

posted by JJ at 04:04 PM on October 18

owlhouse - I suspect it's just you and me left at the bottom of this particular ruck, I'm still here reading and learning, but don't have too much to contribute to the conversation. So please, as you were, continue on with your discussion. I'll just stand over here real quiet and try to not to say anything completely stupid.

posted by tommytrump at 05:05 PM on October 18

I'll just stand over here real quiet You and Shaun Perry. I'm still reading too, but I try to never get anywhere near rucks. So I'll return you to the JJ and Owl love-in.

posted by Mr Bismarck at 05:16 PM on October 18

I'll be back in Jakarta in January at some stage. If the planets align, it could work out, JJ. Thanks, Mr B and tommy. You're welcome to join us for a four ball.

posted by owlhouse at 07:38 PM on October 18

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