The 10 greatest games played at the Rugby World Cup

The 10 greatest games played at the Rugby World Cup

Alas, it wasn’t meant to be. Ireland, rather than bucking the trend, crashed out of the Rugby World Cup on schedule; at the quarter-finals stage. Rather than write a postmortem about the game, because let’s face it, there’s enough of them out there, I thought I would focus on writing up something easier; another clickbait “greatest-ever” list.

Rather than teasing you with “this Irish rugby team had something powerful to say. What happened next will break your heart” bullshit, mine is simple: the 10 greatest games played at the Rugby World Cup (in my opinion, of course).

It is something I was planning on writing at some stage but Scotland’s heartbreaking defeat to Australia has prompted me to finally getting round to it. So, without further ado, here they are…

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World Rugby should cherish the tier-two nations, not belittle them

World Rugby should cherish the tier-two nations, not belittle them

This week’s rugby-related news, in the absence of any action until Saturday’s quarter-finals, was dominated by disciplinary news. Sean O’Brien’s marathon hearing finally ended with the news he would receive just a one-week ban for striking Pascal Pape. I’d by lying if I said I wasn’t relieved but accept that O’Brien was lucky and the punishment should have been far harsher.

Of course O’Brien wasn’t the only one in the dock this week. Scotland’s Jonny Gray and Ross Ford both face three weeks on the sidelines for driving Jack Lam into the ground during a ruck clear-out against Samoa. That spells the end of their World Cup, even if Scotland were to make it all the way to the final. David Pocock escaped citation altogether despite kneeing Scott Baldwin in the back of the head against Wales and being sin-binned.

At the other end of the spectrum, Samoa’s Alesana Tuilagi was suspended for five weeks for “foul play”. The incident in question occured when Tuilagi was running with the ball in hand against Japan. He struck Harumichi Tatekawa’s head with his knee after riding a particular poor tackle from Tatekawa. Social media frothed at the mouth upon hearing of the severity of his suspension. In the face of such a barrage, his ban was reduced to just two weeks.

The most maddening aspect for aggrieved fans is the inconsistency of the disciplinary process, which merits its own post. It is the Tuilagi decision that has prompted today’s post because World Rugby has a potential problem on its hands; the alienation of rugby’s tier-two nations.

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Great Irish sportspeople abroad: Dave Gallaher

Great Irish sportspeople abroad: Dave Gallaher

With the Rugby World Cup well underway, I thought it would be appropriate to write about the man who captained the first-ever New Zealand test side to have the moniker “All Blacks” as part of my burgeoning ‘great Irish sportspeople abroad’ series. His name was Dave Gallaher and he was born in Co. Donegal. Although he only played six test matches for them, Gallaher is a true legend of the game and revered in New Zealand to this day.

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Where does this England side rank among the biggest RWC flops?

Where does this England side rank among the biggest RWC flops?

The Rugby World Cup in England will continue on for another 26 days but without the participation of its hosts beyond this Sunday evening.

England’s elimination at the pool stages was not only a surprise, it is unprecedented. No other host nation in the tournament’s 28-year history has failed to get beyond the pool stages. Where then does England’s exit rank among the high-profile early exits from the past?

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Ireland should write off Argentina at their peril!

Ireland should write off Argentina at their peril!

The general consensus among most rugby fans in Ireland is that in order for us to break our World Cup hoodoo and advance beyond the quarter-finals, we will need to beat France (as well as Italy of course) and therefore top Pool D. Winning the pool means avoiding the unenviable task of facing New Zealand until at least the final, which, given our record against them, would be the far more favourable outcome.

Reassurance in that logic is therefore married with the belief that we will beat Argentina en route to the semi-finals because Argentina will finish second and all pool runners-up immediately qualify as “weaker” opposition. Four years ago Ireland fell into this trap. We believed in our own inflated hype and greatly underestimated the ability of the runners-up from South Africa’s pool, Warren Gatland’s Wales; a side that would lose by a single point to France in the semis and win the Grand Slam the following year. Argentina should not be viewed with the same breezy nonchalance.

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Japan now lead the pantheon of all-time great RWC shocks

Japan now lead the pantheon of all-time great RWC shocks

The Rugby World Cup is finally upon us and what an opening weekend it was! Although England’s Friday night opener and Sunday’s itinerary were solid if unspectacular affairs, sandwiched in between was the mother of all World Cup shocks.

Japan, a side that had won just one game* at the Rugby World Cup prior to Saturday, shook the international game to its core by beating the two-time champions South Africa, 34-32. The nation of Japan awoke on Sunday morning to the sight of their national rugby team on every backpage around world. Not only was it a gargantuan result for the Japanese, who now find themselves co-leaders of pool B on four points, it was also a pulsating encounter which set a benchmark the weekend’s subsequent games simply could not match.

Japan’s wondrous victory provides the perfect springboard for today’s post; a look back at previous shock results at the Rugby World Cup very few pundits, and fans alike, expected.

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