The eighth instalment of the Rugby World Cup Pool stage has been completed with the usual suspects of teams from the Six Nations and the Rugby Championship making up the final eight teams. Hosts England are the notable exception, but there was always going to be a top tier team being knocked out in the so called, “Pool of death”, Pool A. The real highlight of the Pool stage was the 34-32 upset by Japan over South Africa in the first week. Possibly the most improved team of the tournament, Japan, were unlucky not to progress to the finals series with only one loss to Scotland in Pool B.
It has been one of the most popular tournaments with most matches played to sellout or near sellout crowds and a national TV record of 25 million achieved in Japan for the Brave Blossoms clash with Samoa, surpassing the French record from 2007 tournament they hosted.. Georgia’s win over Tonga and Romania’s one point, come back, win over Canada are standouts from the lower tier nations and the gap is narrowing, making this the most hotly contested World Cup in history. No longer are the 100 point blowout scores seen as the lower tier nations are really challenging the big guns…
The knockout stage of the 2015 tournament has some real juicy match ups with Ireland pitted against their nemesis Argentina, New Zealand against France at Millenium, South Africa verses Wales and the Wallabies against their bogey team, Scotland, back at Twickenham. It has worked out as a classic Southern Hemisphere verse Norther Hemisphere affair with the respective troublemakers to face each other. Three nations have won two World Cups a piece and of the other five nations, France has made three finals.
The finals series is certain to take the World Cup to another level and it is those hard matches in the Pool stages that really propel teams to achieve their goals in the sudden death knockout part. It will be another weekend of late nights in the Antipodeas with the mouth watering match ups and may the best teams achieve victory.