The 2011 Rugby World Cup kicked off with a veritable bang over the weekend! Expecting a round of blow-out matches, the first weekend is usually considered to be ho-hum! Well weren’t we all pleasantly surprised! If you haven’t kept up to date with what happened, here is a quick rundown:
All Blacks v Tonga (41-10)
The All Blacks started the match their usual dominant self and created some spectacular rugby to head to the half-time break with a 29-3 lead. Tonga didn’t give up though and came out punching in the second half, slowing the ball down and putting the pressure on the All Blacks with their aggressive style of tackling. The All Blacks continued to mount the pressure and came away with a solid 41-10.
Scotland v Romania (31-24)
Romania gave Scotland a huge scare and made everyone take notice after nearly forcing an unthinkable upset. The Scots started strongly taking a 15-3 lead within 20 minutes but the gutsy Romanians refused to give up and bounced back. With only 15 minutes remaining on the clock, the Romanians pushed their scrum close to the Scottish line allowing their number 8 Daniel Carpo to crash over for the try giving them a 24-21 lead. Two late tries from the Scots handed them a 34-24 victory.
Fiji v Namibia (49-25)
Yet another exciting match where Fiji were expected to make easy work of the Namibian side. While the scoreline of 49-25 makes it seem like an easy win, the Namibians demonstrated that they have vastly improved and can now bring it to the bigger teams.
France v Japan (47-21)
France were also lucky to survive a second-half resurgence from Japan before taking a 47-21 victory. Japan certainly frustrated the French with a lot of free-flowing rugby from their impressive back-line which helped them get to within 4 points in the second half. France redeemed themselves with several successive tries to blow out the scores.
England v Argentina (13-9)
England were very lucky to get away with a win in this game and if both kickers had been on song, the outcome would have definitely been different. England lacked the flair seen earlier in the year during the 6 Nations competition and it wasn’t until replacement Ben Youngs came on in the second half that England started to show some razzle dazzle. There was a lot of one crunching tackles and dirty tactics during the match with England’s Courtney Lawes being cited for kneeing Argentina’s Mario Ledesma during the game.
Australia v Italy (32-6)
The Wallabies got off to a wobbly start, with many handling errors and lack of grunt in the front row taking it’s toll. The powerful Italian side were giving everything to the Australians , causing them to make silly errors and give away penalties. Heading into the second half 6-6, the Wallabies were in danger of losing their first round match but the replacement of James O’Connor for Ant Faingaa became a key turning point in the game. It was like a different team was on the pitch to that of the first half and they dominated not only at the breakdown but also with their impressive back-line moves, scoring 26 points in 20 minutes!. This was the team we had seen defeat the All Blacks in the Tri-Nations a few weeks back.
Ireland v USA (22-10)
This was the most boring match of the weekend. Yes, I went there! I will admit that about 25 minutes into the game, I turned it off and let Twitter tell me what was going on. Ireland were lucky to get this win and the USA seemed to make some silly mistakes. Hopefully both teams can improve on this game, though neither will be a real threat in my opinion.
South Africa v Wales (17-16)
WHAT A GAME this turned out to be. Heading into the match I expected that after their defeat of the All Blacks in the Tri-Nations, the Springboks would win quite comfortably. That was not the case and in fact many will say that they didn’t win at all! Controversy rains over whether the disallowed penalty by Hook should have been sent to the TMO for the final call! The IRB today has of course backed their officials, but the question remains whether or not the ref should have sent this to the TMO as is allowed by IRB law. We have the technology for a reason and in this sort of competition it should be used! Whatever the final result, we do know that the defending champions aren’t where they are expected or would like to be!
Bring on the rest of the tournament!