Rugby World Cup 2019

Spacemans Bong

chapeau rose
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It's back, but maybe not in black?

The World Cup is in Japan for the first time. Konichiwa, bitches.



While it'll be great to see rugby head to relatively uncharted territories for the first time – ignoring that rugby's actually fairly popular in Japan (something like the 2nd or 3rd largest playing pool of any country) and international tournaments have a way of getting everybody interested – the unfortunate downside are some utterly dogshit kickoff times for us people west of the Prime Meridian. Check out this list: brutal. Gah. It'll definitely suck in the UK: I remember New Zealand 2011 and the interest just wasn't there compared to France 2007 or (obviously) England 2015, because most of the games were in the middle of the night. I imagine a lot of the real rugby heads in the US are gonna end up watching games alone by the glow of their iPad in bed instead of with their buds in the pub.

The upside is, although the Internet has been moaning about this for weeks, US TV coverage will be the best it's been since 1995. More than half of the games are on NBCSN or NBC, meaning you really don't need to pay the ridiculous $200 NBC Rugby World Cup Gold streaming package unless you HAVE to see Australia vs. Georgia. Every USA game (more on them later) and every knockout game is on NBCSN – with the possibility some will be reshown or tape delayed to a semi-reasonable hour on NBC – and by my count there's only five really must-watch games exclusively on NBC Rugby World Cup Gold. For those games, fire up a VPN, sign up for ITV's catchup service as they're showing every game live, fake a British postcode (I'll save you a Google: CF10 1JA, which is Cardiff Arms Park) for the sign up, and Bob's your uncle. That will get you into France-Argentina, Ireland-Scotland, Japan-Ireland, Australia-Wales, and England-Argentina, which are the cream of the NBC streaming-only games. Throw in Japan-Samoa too, actually, so six games. Everything else, assuming you still have cable, you can use your TiVo. WE LOVE TIVO FOLKS, WE LOVE IT!!!

So, to the nuts and bolts: who's going to win, who is going to fall flat on their face, how will the USA do.

Who's going to win



Uh... I don't know? This is the most open Rugby World Cup in a long time, possibly ever. For almost every tournament, New Zealand have been prohibitive favourites. Sure, they've screwed up: they were disjointed and tired in 1991 and 2003 and got rightfully knocked off by the Aussies in the semifinal. France went bonkers against them in 1999 (one of the first rugby games I ever watched, and still my favourite) and 2007. Humanity won when they lost to South Africa in 1995 and Nelson Mandela, clad in the rugby shirt that was as much a symbol of apartheid as Robben Island itself, handed Francois Pienaar the trophy.

But South Africa won the Rugby Championship (the main competition between the Southern Hemisphere powers) this year, not NZ. The All Blacks drew with South Africa at home, struggled to beat Argentina, and Australia just flayed the All Blacks in Perth by a remarkable score of 47-26. Scott Barrett got sent off, but they've suffered that before and not shipped almost 50 points. One of the truisms of an unsuccessful All Black World Cup campaign is the ABs not knowing their best team, and that's happening this year. Steve Hansen has kicked Beauden Barrett, the world's best flyhalf, to fullback for Richie Mo'unga. Kieran Read is 33 now and might have to move to 8 so Ardie Savea can play his best position, Brodie Retallick isn't even going to play until the quarterfinals due to a separated shoulder, there's not much settled in the loose forwards and centres area of the pitch. Lots of depth, but good AB teams have somebody you know is going to start. They could easily win this World Cup, but I just wonder if there's just enough wrong with the ABs to prevent that.



If they lose, it'll likely be at the hand of South Africa (who they play in the pool stages), who seem to be in the best form and have unprecedented squad harmony both in terms of race and provincial infighting. Rassie Erasmus took over a squad that had recently lost to Italy (!!) with a mandate to whip them into shape for the World Cup... while also being sufficiently diverse to satisfy the African National Congress, who have taken more than a little notice of South African rugby's rather lacklustre approach to diversity. Picking Siya Kolisi, not just as an actual openside flanker (something the Springboks rarely have), but as the Springboks' first black captain, proved to be a genius move that got everybody applauding and brought Erasmus valuable time to reinvent the squad. It's more diverse, but even more importantly better. Kolisi has formed an excellent partnership with tackle machine Pieter-Steph du Toit, a throwback of the old school of Afrikaner flankers (big dudes who can work in the lineout and tackle all day). Faf de Klerk turned into a world-class scrumhalf, and if he's tired or carrying an injury, Herschel Jantjies proved to be the find of the Rugby Championship. Handre Pollard is a beast of a flyhalf. And the big dudes, Lood de Jager and Eben Etzebeth, are still there dominating the lineout. They're 4/1 on PaddyPower, which seems like seriously good value.

Beyond that, you've got England, Ireland, Wales, and Australia. And France, who might do crazy French shit and get all the way to the final.

England don't look as invincible under Eddie Jones as they did a few years ago, but they smoked Ireland in the World Cup warmups and are still packed with good players. Maro Itoje is a world class lock, Tom Curry is a beast of a flanker, Kyle Sinckler a great ball carrier and capable scrummager, Andy Farrell a top goalkicker. They've got excellent first phase ball carriers in Billy Vunipola, Manu Tuilagi or Joe Cokanasinga, the kind of people you really don't want to tackle. England are going to be fit, boring, and really very hard to beat.

Ireland, sadly, look a little bit like they're past their best. Sure, they're the top ranked team in the world at the moment, having beat the All Blacks twice in three years, but Rory Best is 9000 years old, possibly can't throw properly into the lineout anymore, and he's the first name on the team sheet because he's the fuckin' captain. Johnny Sexton is a genius, and also 34 and struggling with injuries. Rob Kearney is 33. Even Peter O'Mahony is 30. Conor Murray is 30, and him and Sexton are the spine of the team. This team is OLD. They got routed by England 57-15 in a World Cup warmup, and although they went on to beat Wales twice, it's concerning.



Wales have lost their number 8 (Taulupe Faletau) and flyhalf (Gareth Anscombe) to injury during the World Cup warmups, but still look as cohesive and together a squad as any in the Northern Hemisphere. Even after Rob Howley, their (actually quite crappy) attack coach got booted out of the camp the other day for betting on rugby. Yeah. Their captain, Alun Wyn Jones, possessor of one of the world's most Welsh names and the best combover in rugby, keeps on keeping on at the age of 34. This is one geriatric rugby player you don't have to worry about. The experienced Dan Biggar has returned to his post as first-choice flyhalf in Anscombe's absence, the potential for Justin Tipuric and Josh Navidi in the backrow offers some dynamism, George North is still a world-class winger, and their trump card has been Warren Gatland's ability to make them fit and believe in pulling off the comeback. They even got over the hump against Australia last year.

Australia are a friggin' mess, but we said that in 2015 and they got to the final and gave the All Blacks a real game. Can Michael Cheika break the rush defence used by practically every one else with Samu Kerevi's hard running and offloading skills? Yeah, sure, why not. If David Pocock is fit, yeah, sure, why not. The talent's always there for the Wallabies.



Who is going to fall flat on their face?



Well, one of England, France or Argentina (2015 semifinalists) for certain, since that's the Group of Death. My money is on France, Jacques Brunel still doesn't know his best 9 or 10, Antoine Dupont or Baptiste Serin, Camille Lopez or Romain Ntamack, the captain is the hooker Guilhem Guirado and Camille Chat is better than him. But it's France, if they get their shit together (apparently they have a forwards coach now.... which implies they didn't have one before) they've still got Damian Penaud, who is a really good winger, the indefatigable Louis Picamoles and the guys I mentioned before are all actually good.

Japan are clearly the best Tier 2 team there, regardless of them being hosts, and it's plenty possible one of Ireland or Scotland goes home. If Scotland beats Ireland, then the Ireland-Japan game a week later is a must-win for Ireland. If Ireland beats Scotland, then it's likely we go to down to the last pool game between Japan-Scotland. It's certainly possible they all knock off each other at least once, and then it comes down to who beats up on Russia and Samoa the most and picks up bonus points. It's not even outside the realm of reason that Samoa, who are dysfunctional (Pacific Island rugby teams are like African soccer teams, full of talent and full of agita that they've not been paid) but certainly capable of knocking off somebody on their day with huge hits, genius from Tim Nanai-Williams, and Tusi Pisi's kicking boots. They're not consistent enough to get out of the group, but they could certainly spoil someone's party.

How will the USA do?



Bad. And annoyingly, this won't be their fault. Major League Rugby has produced the best USA team ever: finally free of the strictures of amateurism, a fully professional squad of USA players can compete for 80 minutes without collapsing due to having to work a 9-5 job. 13 USA players ply their trade abroad, a number that will probably increase after the World Cup. In 2018, the USA beat a Tier 1 country in Scotland for the first time since 1924. The USA's beaten Samoa twice on the trot, traditionally one of the strongest Tier 2 countries and a team the USA had never beaten before 2018. AJ MacGinty, an Irish import, is maybe the USA's best-ever flyhalf (certainly the best since prime Mike Hercus), a tradition where the USA has traditionally really struggled. The pack is good, with Titi Lamositele one of the better props in English club rugby and Joe Taufete'e a tryscoring machine at hooker. Paul Lasike is a classy centre. So what's the problem? England, France, Argentina. That's the USA's first three games. Two serious contenders and a 2015 semifinalist. It's brutal.

It leaves Tonga as the USA's only realistically winnable game and Tonga are plenty good enough to win. They've only lost to the USA once, although the USA hasn't played them since MLR began – and MLR has changed things. But the USA could give a very credible performance and go 0-4. Even beating Tonga would represent a major achievement, as the USA has only won three World Cup games ever: Japan in 1987, Japan in 2003 (one of the better "minnow" games of any World Cup – worth a watch on Youtube) and Russia in 2011 (an 11-6 borefest). Coach Gary Gold's remit is going to be to beat Tonga and keep the scores down versus the three big boys, although I have a feeling he might throw the second-stringers to the wolves of Argentina to keep his first-choice players healthy for Tonga four days later.
 

jercra

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Thanks for the reminder on this. DVR will be set. Hopefully the USA is at least competitive with England. I have too many English friends I need to give shit to if they were to ever pull off the upset. It's bad enough for them that the US dominates Sevens now.
 

fiskful of dollars

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Can't wait!! I think USA wins one match at best BUT I think they hang with the world's best a little tighter than in previous WCs.

I like SA to win. Ireland is my dark horse.
 

swiftaw

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I much prefer League to Union, but I'll watch anyway. It really is the most open WC I can remember.
 

Spacemans Bong

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Thanks for the reminder on this. DVR will be set. Hopefully the USA is at least competitive with England. I have too many English friends I need to give shit to if they were to ever pull off the upset. It's bad enough for them that the US dominates Sevens now.
Competitiveness is not out of the question. England's first up so injuries won't have bit yet, and it's possible England are overconfident and a bit flat. They get trained to death by Eddie Jones, possibly beyond the realm of good practice according to some people. The Premiership players in the USA squad will understand England's game, so they'll have some decent intel. They lost by 22-10 in 2007, and that might be asking for too much, but if they lost by, say, 38-17 that would be a pretty good performance by the USA.
 

SydneySox

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Hopefully, Australia collapse and the game can finally end in this country. It's barely hanging on, the Super 12/13/15 is a mess, the 'offer an entire village of fit Samoan kids scholarships at top wanker boarding schools, then draft them into the Waratahs' tactic seems to be petering out and maybe, just maybe, the game can die a lonely death.

I hope NZ keep winning.
 

HoyaSoxa

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Thanks for the comprehensive preview, Mr. Bong. One note regarding the US tv coverage - your comment:
That will get you into France-Argentina, Ireland-Scotland, Japan-Ireland, Australia-Wales, and England-Argentina, which are the cream of the NBC streaming-only games.
suggests that the All Blacks - Boks pool stage contest is being shown somewhere other than PPV in the US, but I am not finding it on any programming guide, which is a real shame. On the other hand, it does appear that the Ireland-Scotland match will be shown on delay this Sunday at 12:30 ET on NBC, and since paying for the privilege to watch it live (or using VPN voodoo) was going to be rather challenging given the time, I may as well wait for the free showing.
 

Spacemans Bong

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I would keep an eye out, I just went through the NBC Sports schedule and some things seem clearly inaccurate. For example, NBC has said that all USA games would at least make it to NBCSN and they’re shown as only being on the Rugby World Cup Gold package for now. There’s only 8 knockout round games, so they’re gonna have to show 18 pool matches somehow. I wonder if they’re being coy about which games to drive subscriptions.

Ireland-Scotland seems like a reasonable switchout for NZ-SA anyway: it’s a more important game given the odds Japan knocks one of them out and the Irish-American community will probably give it better ratings.
 

Snedds

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Thanks for starting this thread and for the great OP.

The Rob Howley betting scandal is the big story dominating here in Wales at the moment. Apparently it's been "well known" in Welsh rugby circles that he's always liked a bet, that bordered on being a bit of a problem, but for it to come to a head on the eve of the RWC is peak Wales.
 

MiracleOfO2704

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Hopefully, Australia collapse and the game can finally end in this country. It's barely hanging on, the Super 12/13/15 is a mess, the 'offer an entire village of fit Samoan kids scholarships at top wanker boarding schools, then draft them into the Waratahs' tactic seems to be petering out and maybe, just maybe, the game can die a lonely death.

I hope NZ keep winning.
Does it help you if I tell you I want to punch Michael Hooper on instinct every time his face burns itself onto my retinas?

Kieran Read is 33 now and might have to move to 8 so Ardie Savea can play his best position[...]
I haven't been watching the ABs that tightly, but hasn't Read always been a No. 8?
 

Spacemans Bong

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Does it help you if I tell you I want to punch Michael Hooper on instinct every time his face burns itself onto my retinas?



I haven't been watching the ABs that tightly, but hasn't Read always been a No. 8?
yeah you're right - what I meant to say was Savea's best position is also 8, and he's a better player than Read at this point. So the ABs are either going to play their best back rower out of position to accommodate their ageing captain, or put their ageing captain out on the flank where his 33 year old legs are going to need to chase down backs and jackal for position. Not an easy call.
 

Spacemans Bong

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Thanks for starting this thread and for the great OP.

The Rob Howley betting scandal is the big story dominating here in Wales at the moment. Apparently it's been "well known" in Welsh rugby circles that he's always liked a bet, that bordered on being a bit of a problem, but for it to come to a head on the eve of the RWC is peak Wales.
What's remarkable about it are two things.

1) The rules say you can't bet on a match where you're a connected person. So this includes every match in a tournament. Well, Rob Howley's been part of the backroom team for Wales at the last two World Cups. Does this mean he could have been popped then too, and it was just missed? Is there a virtual paper trail going back 8 years of all of his bets on World Cup rugby with Paddypower or whoever?

2) The rules are quite broad, but so are the punishments too. It's not like baseball, you can be let off with a warning or a fine. So this is clearly more serious than Rob Howley's Favorite Gambler, Rob Howley* putting a cheeky tenner on Argentina to beat England.

*Inside joke: Rob Howley is the Rickey Henderson of Welsh rugby. Lots of speaking in the third person.
 

HoyaSoxa

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I would keep an eye out, I just went through the NBC Sports schedule and some things seem clearly inaccurate. For example, NBC has said that all USA games would at least make it to NBCSN and they’re shown as only being on the Rugby World Cup Gold package for now. There’s only 8 knockout round games, so they’re gonna have to show 18 pool matches somehow. I wonder if they’re being coy about which games to drive subscriptions.
Indeed, they have seemed to be purposefully vague with how they intend to broadcast these games. Their website for things like the 6 Nations package used to be extremely clear, with one column showing the time the matches would be on live PPV and a different column showing when they would be shown on delay over the air, and highlighting the matches that were exclusive to the streaming package. No such luck this time around, and at least one source I read states that 2 of the QFs will be NBC Gold exclusives, not that they are willing to publish which ones.
 

Awesome Fossum

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I'm so curious if $229.99 is really a profit-maximizing price point for NBC. I guess they figure the no casual fans are going to wake up at 2am to watch rugby, so might as well go big for the people who just have to have it? They may be right.

I don't know a ruck from a maul, but I'm pulling for Ireland. Pretty impressive win this morning over Scotland, I would think.
 

Spacemans Bong

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Scotland were really bad, so bad that a Japanese win seems very possible. Their gameplan seemed to be give the ball go Stuart Hogg after Greig Laidlaw reads a long short story/short novel at every ruck, and for Hogg not to consider crazy shit like passing the ball. It was pretty abject. It’s difficult to tell how good Ireland are as a result, although they’re effectively through the group now and will probably win all their games. South Africa will await.
 

Spacemans Bong

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WTF is Eddie Jones talking about when he says he expects the Eagles to play like 15 Donald Trumps? I mean, aside from the fact he just loves to stir the pot, no matter how non-sensical.
Eddie's mother is often described in the media as being Japanese, but she's actually a Nisei from Sacramento who was interned during the war. She met Eddie's father after the war when working as an interpreter for the US Army. Which means two things:

1) Eddie's a US citizen, and he probably has a US passport

2) He might have some feelings about the US.
 

HoyaSoxa

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FYI: the next three games, Fiji-Uruguay, Italy-Canada and England-USA are all on NBCSN. No news beyond that. So I think NBC's strategy is just to give you short notice for what games are actually on real TV vs Gold.
NBC Sports website (and the app on your smart TV) have been posting free extended highlights of every match (15-20 minutes), plus a 5-10 minute "Wake up with the World Cup" recap show of all matches from a given day. The only problem is the title of the highlights package also tells you the final score, so if you are hoping to replicate the suspense of watching the full match, you won't get that, but otherwise it's not too bad.
 

Phil Plantier

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I have to thank Bong and the rest of you for this thread. Without it, I would not have watched Fiji-Uruguay.

Without knowing anything, it was clear that Uruguay were heavy underdogs by the patronizing commentary. The best was after the first Uruguay try: "No one can take that away from him," like he's the special needs kid scoring at the wrong end of a blowout. It was a really fun match to watch for an uninformed neutral like myself.

These "pay to view the important games" policies seem so short-sighted. Fox is doing the same thing: the Australian Rules [semifinals] are on FS2, but the [final] is only available if you pay. I guess they have decided to exploit the audience they have, rather than grow. I bet NBC is waiting to see if this becomes A Thing, and if there's a groundswell move more stuff to NBC/NBCSN
 

Spacemans Bong

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It's definitely an upset, Fiji beat Uruguay 68-7 last year, but yeah. Rugby has some pretty patronizing attitudes common among the elites: the game was really tightly restricted to the Home Nations (England/Scotland/Ireland/Wales), France, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand for a really long time and for most rugby fans and media, that is basically their world. Even then, France and Argentina had to wait far too long (France notoriously weren't admitted to the FIFA of rugby until 1978, 67 years after they joined the-then Five Nations) to be admitted to the game's top table. The fact Rugby didn't get a World Cup until 1987 and didn't go professional until 1995 (although this actually set the USA, Canada and Argentina back, IMO) doesn't help here.

If you hear talk about Tier 2 countries, you'll hear it rely on national stereotypes a lot that get decidedly dodgy in terms of Pacific Islanders and their work ethic or rugby IQ. This is especially bad in the UK, if you've seen how self-satisified the English soccer media is then you know what I mean.


Argentina-Tonga is now also shown as on NBCSN.

I actually don't think it's THAT bad: I'd have killed for 26 games live in 1999 or 2003 (when I had to pay $24.95 to watch the final on PPV, and/or $20 to go to bars). What gets me is the evasiveness. Just tell people before tournament started which games are on what. Maybe say a few games will be flexed in case they're biggies, but other than that go with what you picked in September.
 

Phil Plantier

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Seems like there are a lot of moral victories for teams that aren't in the top, like, eight. Was that better or worse than you expected from the US? My hope was that they would do better than Canada (US facing a tougher opponent, true), and the US accomplished that (barely)
 

dirtynine

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I know we (US) are low second-tier in international rugby, and England is elite. But I was hoping for a gritty 35-20 loss type thing. Not this time, sadly. Proud of the Eagles & looking forward to the distant day where it’s common, state-side, to pack out a bar at 6am for matches like this.

edit - just figured out how to apply the fancy inline spoiler.
 
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Spacemans Bong

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No games today so find a YouTube or whatever of the Japan-Ireland and Wales-Australia games and gorge on those. It's been a few days so no more spoilers.

The key feature of both games is the upset team got outthought, outcoached and outselected.

Outthought: Both Ireland and Australia made no concessions to their opponent in their game plan. It was play the way we always play. For Ireland that's play conservatively and soak up pressure, for Australia it's achieve superiority in the scrum and carry the ball over the gainline consistently. Japan didn't really change their gameplan either, but theirs was going to be difficult for Ireland. They made 24 more runs than Ireland, broke the gainline more often, and carried the ball almost 200 metres further than Ireland. Wales, on the other hand, did adjust their gameplan in attack, going for kicks near the tryline to their wingers and testing the Aussie back three - leading to a try for Hadleigh Parkes. Defensively, they were aided by Samu Kerevi consistently breaking the gainline and then not passing the ball (he had zero passes for the match) meaning their defence had to just soak up tackles. And Wales did that better than anybody. A 12's job isn't just to bash it up on first phase possession, it's to distribute the ball to his outside centre (James O'Connor looked great when he got the ball, which was hardly ever) so they can run in space.

Outcoached: Apparently Joe Schmidt hasn't realized that Japan is hot and very humid by Irish standards, and his team (which isn't particularly young, especially in some key positions) might struggle having to make a lot of tackles against a Japanese side with outstanding basic skills when it's hotter and muggier than it ever gets in Ireland. Michael Cheika definitely didn't realise that Wales would go for quick three point options in the form of drop goals inside the Australian 22 if they had any problems breaking the gainline, and that Will Genia's delivery from ruck ball can be timed by a sundial. Gareth Davies intercepting for a try was a planned move by Wales, and he should have had a second one. That's how telegraphed Genia's passes to his forwards in the fourth and fifth channels were. There was a reason for this, as Cheika revealed he delegated the task of watching Welsh game tape to his assistants. Bill Belichick would not approve, nor would a lot of other coaches given the importance of Wales in the group.

Outselected:
Johnny Sexton sat on the bench for the Japan game due to a thigh bruise. It's the second biggest group game, what the actual fuck? If his leg is still attached to him, at least get him out there for a half. Would Sexton have locked things down better than Joey Carberry and preserved Ireland's 12 point lead? Yeah. Likewise, Genia and Bernard Foley were clear misses by Australia, and given how Nic White and Matt To'omua got things going, you have to say those two selections may have cost Australia the game.

The consequences for both Ireland and Australia are near-catastrophic: they'll get out of the group, unless Ireland melt down against Samoa (unlikely, Samoa seem pretty bad) and Scotland beat Japan. But what screws both is the quarterfinal matchups: Ireland now look pretty likely to face the All Blacks while Australia look pretty likely to face England (unless France beat them, which is unlikely). That's almost certainly curtains for both. Australia aren't going to outconcrete the Poms and Ireland's forward pack isn't going to dominate NZ. You hate to see it, but byebye guys.

Meanwhile, Japan will get South Africa (still a tough game for them, but better than NZ - plus we all get to relive the magic of Brighton 2015) while Wales probably get France. And even if they get England, they know they can beat England.
 

scottyno

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Much much better showing for USA vs France, at least for 65 minutes anyway. I didn't like the 2 early penalty kicks when they were so close, especially the one foot out, but I watch almost all 7s, so maybe it's strategically correct.
 

Tokyo Sox

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Much much better showing for USA vs France, at least for 65 minutes anyway. I didn't like the 2 early penalty kicks when they were so close, especially the one foot out, but I watch almost all 7s, so maybe it's strategically correct.
Yeah same. There's also some funky bonus points system in place that explains things like why Ireland kicked the ball out at the end of regulation vs Japan -- keeping it within 7 got them a bonus point. Obviously that probably wasn't the thought process so early on in this one but yeah.

That did get out of hand fast at the end, somewhat disappointing after a hard fought battle for the first 65 minutes.
 

Spacemans Bong

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Carbery definitely didn't look at the clock, because that wasn't a kick into touch to preserve the BP. It barely went out at the halfway line. So he made wrong decision, but it turned out to be the right one.

Kicking the penalties is the right move. The USA needed to keep the scoreboard ticking over, especially as they'd come away from their first foray into the French 22 with nothing.

Frustrating game in all, we really dropped off due to fitness right as we closed the score to 12-9. France got to use their far better bench too. We're also just a little bit limited in attack, we have a lot of bash-'em-up ball carriers, but not the kind of tryscoring winger like Zee Ngwenya to finish that possession. We missed Paul Lasike's ability to offload in the tackle, which is a pretty bulletproof way to open up blitz defences like France's (well, if you don't drop the ball).

You make it sound like it's a given that Japan will defeat Scotland. When has Japan ever truly faced the burden and the pressure of expectation?
When has Scotland, and won? They've never beaten a side ranked above them in a World Cup match. Ever. Even in 1991, they got the semifinal by beating Ireland (crap at the time), Japan (crap at the time), Zimbabwe and Western Samoa.

Laying a total egg like they did versus Ireland doesn't give me confidence that Scotland will pull out a win and escape the group. They'll be going for it on four days of rest after playing Russia, which means they'll either be pretty tired or they could risk dropping a bonus point versus Russia. Finally, Scotland under Gregor Townsend tend to play a pretty expansive game, which plays into Japan's hands.
 

thehitcat

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When has Scotland, and won? They've never beaten a side ranked above them in a World Cup match. Ever. Even in 1991, they got the semifinal by beating Ireland (crap at the time), Japan (crap at the time), Zimbabwe and Western Samoa.
I was at Cardiff Arms Park for that third place playoff game (along with 46999 of my friends) against the All Blacks, after the Scots had crashed out at Murrayfield against England in the Semis. Despite the emotional hangover of the loss at home relegating them to this game the Scots didn't play badly but had no ability to break through other than their two penalties. They drove hard for the line late but came up a bit short, they were coming straight at us so I remember it well. We were in a section of all Scotland fans and were rooting hard for the underdogs. Also the Haka live is something that really needs to be experienced. Went out after the match and had drinks with both squads at a large pub near the ground, which they probably don't do anymore but was a cool thing for a new American fan to experience.

Campese was immense for Australia that year but Australia rode their luck a little beating the "crap" Irish at Landsdowne Road by a single point before demolishing the All Blacks and the Three Lions for the trophy.
 

Spacemans Bong

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God bless Gordon Hamilton for almost inspiring a miracle, and the perverse irony of somebody named Michael Thomas Patrick Lynagh pulling a try out of his ass to end the dream, but Ireland were objectively crap at the time.

0-4-1 in the Five Nations that year and a Test series lost to Namibia that summer. They weren't any better in 1990 or 1992 either.
 

ConigliarosPotential

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When has Scotland, and won? They've never beaten a side ranked above them in a World Cup match. Ever. Even in 1991, they got the semifinal by beating Ireland (crap at the time), Japan (crap at the time), Zimbabwe and Western Samoa.

Laying a total egg like they did versus Ireland doesn't give me confidence that Scotland will pull out a win and escape the group. They'll be going for it on four days of rest after playing Russia, which means they'll either be pretty tired or they could risk dropping a bonus point versus Russia. Finally, Scotland under Gregor Townsend tend to play a pretty expansive game, which plays into Japan's hands.
I didn't say Scotland was going to win, or even likely to win - Lord knows I've seen any number of false dawns in Scottish rugby over the years. I merely object to you penciling Japan automatically in as the winner, as you seem to be doing.
 

Spacemans Bong

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Ah, I re-read and see your point. I didn't mean to read like Scotland beating Japan would be as unlikely as Samoa beating Ireland. It's entirely possible Scotland wins, although I think the odds are stacked against them. Having Russia four days earlier is a real pain, Russia haven't been blown out in any game they've played despite being nominally a weak side. That's a tough selection call for Gregor, do you put the firsts out and hope to get a big lead and the bonus point by halftime and then yank them all off for Japan, or do you hope for a four try-win from your second team with the big boys on the bench just in case? I'd probably do the latter, with the proviso that if you're not three tries in by halftime you call for the calvary.

Whatever happens, Scotland have to get a bonus point win over Russia. They then need to beat Japan and preferably by more than 7. I think even if Japan don't get a bonus point win over Samoa, that would be the case, as Scotland's smashing by Ireland puts them at a disadvantage in points difference that won't be nullified unless they really cane Russia (Japan won by 20).
 
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HoyaSoxa

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Pretty poor for Ireland to only get 1 try in 20 minutes of playing 15 v 14. Lots of handling issues, too. Hopefully the long layoff before Samoa gives them a bit of a respite and opportunity to regroup, but it is tougher than ever to see how they get past the QF at this point.

Injuries are also worrying - if Jordi Murphy and Carbery are not going to be fit for Samoa, it may be worthwhile to call up some reinforcements, even though there really aren't any remaining depth options at their positions. Maybe a utility back like Will Addison or some scrum half depth (Carbery is nominally the emergency 9) like Kieran Marmion. For Murphy, they could always bring Devin Toner back into the fold and shift Beirne or Henderson to the back row as needed. Dan Leavy and Sean O'Brien injuries pre-tournament, plus Jack Conan going out now, has really destroyed what was a deep pool. Jamie Heaslip, come back!
 

scottyno

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Dec 7, 2008
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Is there really no contingency for weather issues? Biggest rugby tournnament in the world that teams work for years towards and you're determining who moves on based on the weather.
 

HoyaSoxa

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Is there really no contingency for weather issues? Biggest rugby tournnament in the world that teams work for years towards and you're determining who moves on based on the weather.
Crazy, but also somewhat difficult to come up with a contingency that accounts for player and spectator safety (aside from "don't schedule major tournaments in Japan in September-October"). Bad enough that England, France, New Zealand all get to rest and avoid injury before QFs, but if the Scotland-Japan match is cancelled, it really put the integrity of the competition into doubt.
 

scottyno

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Crazy, but also somewhat difficult to come up with a contingency that accounts for player and spectator safety (aside from "don't schedule major tournaments in Japan in September-October"). Bad enough that England, France, New Zealand all get to rest and avoid injury before QFs, but if the Scotland-Japan match is cancelled, it really put the integrity of the competition into doubt.
Italy also lost it's chance to shock the world and eliminate NZ with a big win (yeah I know it wasn't happening but still). We've seen NFL games moved on days notice because of weather, it seems horribly planned that this wouldn't have been a possibility in Japan, even if it comes down to lets move and play the game in a near empty stadium just for the integrity of the tourney.
 

Spacemans Bong

chapeau rose
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In short, no, they hadn’t really planned shit. It’s a joke. I’m pretty mad Italy-NZ was cancelled but if Scotland-Japan is cancelled I’m done with this World Cup. It would frankly be corrupt, since I suspect if Japan needed the win they would not be so passive on moving the game.
 

Spacemans Bong

chapeau rose
SoSH Member
Canada-Namibia cancelled tomorrow, which is really shit for both teams. Canada needs a win in the worst way, I didn’t preview their team but the Canadian rugby team is in free fall and even beating Namibia would be a huge morale boost.

Canada has gone from the quarterfinals in 1991 and a game 29-13 loss to the All Blacks (and then several scalps of Five Nations opponents in the years to come, including a famous victory in Cardiff over Wales) to something like seven straight losses to the USA and having to qualify through the repechage pool. My kingdom for Al Charron and Gareth Rees! They haven’t won a World Cup game since 2011 and that streak continues.

On the flip side, Namibia has never won a Rugby World Cup game. Given what I said about Canada, this was definitely their best opportunity to do so.

In better news, Wales-Uruguay is on and USA-Tonga is also on - and that’s our World Cup final. If we can win, that would make up for a lot of the pain the Eagles and their fans, us, have gone through in the past few weeks.

Still waiting on the biggie, Japan-Scotland. But boy, it’s hard to see this and not assume the best:

View: https://mobile.twitter.com/AlanDymock/status/1183147623143751681
 

HoyaSoxa

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Dec 4, 2003
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Japan looked awesome and a very worthy Quarter Finalist. Thank goodness the match was played.

Now, more NBC Sports complaints - 2 of the QFs (Ireland v. New Zealand, Wales v. France) are PPV only, and they are now gouging us at $35/match. If I knew what matches will be free to air, it would be really helpful in terms of whether to buy into the package now, especially with an option to get the rest of the tournament plus 6 Nations and EPCR for $145. Probably still better off paying for the one-off on Ireland match, then waiting to see how much of 6 Nations might end up free over the air, but I may make a foolish decision.