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ljkeane

Rugby: Building up to Japan

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It's a bit on the nose for World Rugby to fine England for crossing the halfway line during the Haka, but also post a youtube video titled "England's incredible response to intense New Zealand Haka".

I won't link it because World Rugby doesn't deserve the clicks for that sort of hypocrisy.

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Well I obviously didn't check my calendar before booking my flights...I'll be in the air during the final, bah. 

That being said, I don't expect it will be a thrill-a-minute sort of game. Probably quite cagey and tactical, unless England just steamroll the whole thing.

My prediction is for a tight first half, but then England pull away in the second.

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Been up for 2 hours (and tossing and turning for a good hour before that)
Just finished researching Eng v NZ and fully pumped.
About to rewatch RSA v Wal - which out me back to sleep, or may see confidence riding far too high

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This is a problem for England, Cole’s probably the weakest of their bench options.

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Absolute disaster of a first half for England. Sinckler’s the player they were least equipped to replace early, and Cole really isn’t an 80 minute player anymore, the set piece isn’t going well and the Springbok’s have got Garces on side.

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Well played South Africa, comfortably the best team on the day, and that's all that matters!

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Got no words. I'm just so fucking happy. Rassie Erasmus has overseen nothing short of a remarkable turnaround considering the dire state we were in just two years ago. 

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Well that went badly, badly wrong for England.

England were a bit unlucky with the early loss of a key player in Sinckler and I suspect most referees wouldn't have rewarded the South African dominance in the scrums with as many penalties as Garces did, it's pretty standard now for them to just tell the attacking team to play the ball, but ultimately I don't think it made a difference. The reality was the South African physicality in defence combined with a smart gameplan to have De Klerk and others flying out the line to cut out the out the back options really negated England's rugby league style attack and England never really found an answer to that. On the other hand Daly had a really poor game at fullback for England which meant that the Springboks were always comfortable playing their own kicking gameplan. Overall a well deserved South African win. 

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Eddie Jones shouldn't have gracelessly thrown shade at Warran Gatland. That gave England bad juju.

A colleague at work wondered if England had peaked in the semi-finals and had put all their mental energy and preparation into beating the ABs that they wouldn't have enough left in the tank for South Africa. I guess that might have been true.

Congratulations to South Africa.

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Anyway it seems like an appropriate time for a team of the tournament. For me:

1. Mtawarira. It was going to be Vunipola for his all round game before the final but the shellacking the Springbok pack handed out in the scrums was key to the game so the Beast goes past him.

2. Mbonambi. At the heart of the best scrum in the tournament, was almost perfect at the lineout throughout the whole World Cup and was good around the park. Hard to argue with that from your hooker.

3. Sinckler. Unfortunately missed almost all the final but he was brilliant against both Australia and New Zealand. If a tighthead prop scores a try off a clean break in midfield in a World Cup knockout game it's pretty much the law he has to be in the team of the tournament.

4. Etzebeth. A bit of a team selection really. All of South Africa's 4 locks were good and there wasn't really a standout but given how good their tight five has been you have to pick one and I suppose Etzebeth is the most high profile.

5. Itoje. He was still pretty good in a losing effort today and was the standout second row for the the World Cup for me.

6. Du Toit. It was going to be Curry, who was excellent against the All Blacks and still not bad today, but Du Toit's been the best player in the Springbok pack for me and his work rate in defence today was key to South Africa's win.

7. Underhill. Absolutely bullied the All Blacks and still smashed back any of the big South African forwards who were stupid enough to run at him today. He didn't feature a huge amount in the final but that was largely because South Africa really didn't make much attempt to hold onto the ball while he was on the pitch. The game against New Zealand was enough for him to be the clear best openside for me though.

8. Himeno. Vermuelen almost pipped him at the death with an excellent performance in the final but overall I don't think Vermuelen's quite been at his best. Himeno's ball carrying to give an undersized Japan side the front foot ball to play the way they wanted to was phenomenal.

9. Nagare. The best service from the base of the ruck at the World Cup by a mile. Faf De Klerk was a key player for South Africa to win the World Cup but I don't think was actually playing as well as he can.

10. Ford. Bit of a hard one really with no consistently standout 10. Pollard did ok but he didn't do a lot really. Ford didn't have a great game today and was dropped for the Australia game so it's bit of debatable pick but at his best he probably reached a level no other 10 at the tournament did for me.

11. Radradra. Best rugby player at the World Cup.

12. Farrell. Like Ford a bit of a mixed bag with the final not going well behind a beaten pack but reached a level none of the other 12s did for me. I suppose the other option is De Allende but he's a bit too one dimensional for me.

13. Goodhue. Really good in beating the Springboks and Ireland and was one of the few players to come away with some credit from the semifinal.

14. Penaud. There were a few wingers who could have gone here but I thought the all round game Penaud offers takes him over the edge.

15. Barrett. Another position which wasn't the strongest but Barrett a least showed the flashes of attacking genius that he's capable of.

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Hats off to South Africa and to rassie Erasmus in particular. Has there ever been a more complete example of the maxim “forwards win matches and backs decide by how much”? Absolutely ground England to mince in the scrums, kept turning the screw with penalties and eventually the tries came. Also great to see the electric pace of mpampi and kolbe finally too. Complete performance. First team to ever win RWC after losing a group game, three finals three wins for boks, first time boks scores a try in a final, a night of records. 

Never mind England, stiff upper lip and all that, what? 

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1 hour ago, Valandil said:

First team to ever win RWC after losing a group game, three finals three wins for boks, first time boks scores a try in a final, a night of records. 

Although this applies only to the southern hemisphere sides, it's also the first time a team has won the tri nations/rugby championship and WC in the same year. Quite a surprising stat that considering the big three from the south have won 8/9 WCs. Then we've also had that outstanding ABs side (probably the greatest rugby union side ever assembled) - one would have expected them to have done the double. 

 

The Boks threw up no surprises and the players executed the game plan to perfection. We saved our best for last - everyone played well and Willie le Roux put in his best performance of the tournament by a country mile. The Boks decimated England in the scrum and a defensive masterclass starved them of front foot ball. Without that platform, England's attack was neutered. A well deserved win. 

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9 hours ago, Consigliere said:

Although this applies only to the southern hemisphere sides, it's also the first time a team has won the tri nations/rugby championship and WC in the same year. Quite a surprising stat that considering the big three from the south have won 8/9 WCs. Then we've also had that outstanding ABs side (probably the greatest rugby union side ever assembled) - one would have expected them to have done the double. 

1987, 1991, and 1995 are out (no tri-nations)

1999, 2003, and 2007: New Zealand win tri-nations, but lose the WC (Australia, England, and South Africa)

2011, and 2015: Australia win tri-nations, but lose the WC (New Zealand, New Zealand).

2015 in particular stands out, given that the All Blacks won the tri-nations 2012-2014 and 2016-2018. On the other hand, the 2015 tri-nations was abbreviated to one round. with the All Blacks playing away in both South Africa and Australia.

 

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World Rugby award winners:

 

Men's 15s Player of the Year: Pieter-Steph Du Toit (South Africa)

Women’s 15s Player of the Year: Emily Scarratt (England)

Team of the Year: South Africa

Coach of the Year: Rassie Erasmus (South Africa)

Referee of the Year: Wayne Barnes (England)

Try of the Year: TJ Perenara (New Zealand)

Women's Sevens Players of the Year: Ruby Tui (New Zealand)

Men's Sevens Players of the Year: Jerry Tuwai (Fiji)

IRP Special Merit Award: Jamie Heaslip (Ireland)

Vernon Pugh Award for Distinguished Service: Bernard Lapasset

Award for Character: City of Kamaishi

Breakthrough Player of the Year: Romain Ntamack (France)

 

Hall of Fame inductees: Richie McCaw (New Zealand), Shiggy Konno (Japan), Os du Randt (South Africa), Peter Fatialofa (Samoa), Graham Henry (New Zealand) and Diego Ormaechea (Uruguay).

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Well done South Africa. Total domination up front is probably the best description I can come up with. Then, when the English had been physically sapped for 50+ minutes, the wingers struck out wide. Pretty much the blueprint of how rugby should be played.

Taking a step back, I still happen to disagree with the idea that World Cups count for more than long term consistency. Personally, I rate New Zealand higher for having a 90% win ratio over an extended period of time, than some team - be it England or South Africa - winning a couple of games in a tournament and now being counted the best in the world.

On any given day I would still pick New Zealand to win against either of the finalists if I had to bet my lunch money on the outcome. Here's hoping that South Africa can now turn one mediocre win (against Wales) and one fantastic win (against England) into some long term consistency.

As far as England is concerned, the outcome of the final surprised me less than the outcome of their semi-final against New Zealand. To me the final was a case of back to business as usual, with the outlier being England's unlikely win against the All Blacks in the semifinal.

SA and NZ are clearly the top two teams. With England probably slightly ahead of Wales, Ireland and Australia, in third place.

Edited by Free Northman Reborn

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Legit criticism or hypocritical snark?

https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/shows/2019/11/poll-is-it-ok-to-refuse-to-wear-a-second-placed-medal.html

Quote

Poll: Is it OK to refuse to wear a second-placed medal?

I watched the video of England receiving its silver medals and started to feel a bit of self-righteous ire. But then I thought, hmmm maybe I should see how my team reacted with the bronze medals. It appears some All Blacks didn't let their necks be defiled with the brown metal dangler, and others took it off soon after having it bestowed upon them. And that was after winning a game. England had just lost a game they believed themselves to be a heavy favourites.

But is the New Zealand press being "self" critical of [some of] the All Blacks? No. A few articles are just having a go at England and nothing about the ABs.

Personally, I think if you get to be a medal winner in a competition you wear the medal trying to present a sense of pride and graciousness even if you feel gutted that it's not the gold variety. So I think England and NZ players were being a bit dickish by refusing to let the RWC rep dude put the medal on them / taking it off almost immediately. But the NZ press response to England specifically is overblown to the point of being petty and self-righteously judgmental. I'm disappointed in myself that I had a few moments of reacting in a similar way before I checked myself. Kinda glad that some of the ABs did the same as England, because maybe I would have continued to ride that self-righteous wave if they had not.

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I can't say I care about the whole wearing a runners up medal or not thing, all the players in the latter stages of the World Cup are there to win it, or course they're disappointed with anything else. On top of that the whole gold, silver and bronze thing they have at the World Cup is kind of stupid and basically nobody cares. 

The big news for English rugby is that the rumored big penalty for Saracens for salary cap irregularities is definitely a big penalty, 35 points deducted and over £5 million in fines. It's a bit of a shock they've gone that far and I do wonder what precipitated it, it's been pretty widely known that Sarries supplement many of their players wages with various 'business partnerships' for years so why now?

Edited by ljkeane

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