Rugby World Cup Review - Week 1

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First off it was the statement New Zealand and South Africa made in the first crunch game of the tournament, setting a tone that had all other sides aware of the task ahead of them to deny either side a place in the final. And surprise, surprise, there was even criticism of the All Blacks' haka, just for a change.

 

Of more interest, however, was the dissatisfaction over refereeing in the first few games of the tournament expressed by the governing body, World Rugby. In an almost unprecedented move, statements were issued saying referees were failing to make consistent decisions set both by World Rugby and themselves. Injuries have already hit some teams hard.

 

Rounding out the week was the realisation that teams need to be able to cope with the weather conditions and the excessive moisture whether caused by rain or high humidity.

 

 

POOL A

 

Ireland, after their 27-3 win over Scotland, are clearly headed for the top of the pool but the real contest is for second. Samoa have given themselves their much sought after chance for quarterfinals glory with a first up win over Russia who also fell to Japan 4-30 in the tournament opener. Going into the second week, the game between Scotland and Samoa, on Monday, shapes as key for both sides. Scotland must win to keep their hopes alive while Samoa could almost breathe easily if they were able to win. Japan face Ireland on Saturday in a contest likely to see Ireland home in comfort.

 

POOL B

 

Italy have moved to the top of the table courtesy of their bonus point wins over Namibia 47-22 and Canada 48-7. That was also helped by the fact the pool heavyweights, the All Blacks and South Africa, played out a tough, unrelenting encounter before the All Blacks won 23-13 to claim favouritism to take out the pool and to regain their No.1 ranking in Test rugby. However, the pool should take a bit of a shake-up during the second and third weeks. South Africa play Namibia on Saturday and then Italy on Friday while New Zealand play Canada on Wednesday and then Namibia on Sunday.

 

POOL C

 

England top Pool C having achieved a 35-3 win over Tonga and a 45-7 win over the United States of America. Coach Eddie Jones cleverly diverted attention from a lacklustre first display by telling the post-game press conference that former Manchester United supremo Sir Alex Ferguson had provided advice for England. Their win put them in the box seat to claim the pool but it would be unwise to discount a resurgent France who claimed a key 23-21 win over Argentina, beaten semifinalists in the last World Cup. Argentina need to beat Tonga well on Saturday, a week out from what will be their tournament deciding game against England. France play the USA on Wednesday and then back up against Tonga on Sunday, October 6.

 

POOL D

 

Uruguay's stunning 30-27 upset win over Fiji was the tournament's equivalent moment of Japan-South Africa in 2015 and left Fiji with a tough road to the playoffs. Wales and Australia will now be favoured to take out the pool, although which will claim the top position is the point of interest. That could be decided as early as Sunday when they meet in Tokyo. Wales opened with a 43-14 win over Georgia while Australia got past Fiji 39-21 with a second half surge. Georgia's hopes of claiming a credible third place will depend on Sunday's game against Uruguay and Thursday's game with Fiji.

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