So the World Cup is up and running. Man, there was a lot of rugby at the weekend. So let’s start at the beginning. After all the hoo-ha about the media boycotting coverage of the tournament, everything ran smoothly, thanks to an eleventh-hour deal where the stringent restrictions on the use of images online were relaxed. I think the arrogant IRB need to sit down and take a look at itself; its behaviour in the build-up to this World Cup was piss-poor.
The opening ceremony, I thought, was quite cool; it was like a mad circus had come to town and was a nice break from the standard opening ceremonies that always tend to employ twirling gymnasts, marching bands and a whole bunch of sport administrators about whom no one really gives a damn.
The opening game may not have been a great spectacle, but you couldn’t have asked for a better game with which open the tournament. The way Argentina scrapped for that win was fantastic and the emotion of the event was electrifying. It reminded me of the opening game of the 2002 Soccer World Cup where Senegal beat France. Turns out the Argentinians may have done the Boks a huge favour as well, if France finish second in their group. Never mind the fact that we won’t meet France in the semis, but the New Zealand v France quarter is also a terrifying prospect — let’s wait and see.
The other great aspect of the World Cup so far has been the fighting spirit of some of the minnows. Canada’s valiant effort against Wales, the United States’s great spirit against England, and Namibia’s second-half performance against Ireland is what the Rugby World Cup is all about.
New Zealand looked very strong against Italy, and Australia battled at first against Japan, which they shouldn’t have, before running out comfortable winners. England were very poor against the US and as for France, well, let’s leave that alone.
And the Boks? We started badly but I think that we were rattled by the physicality of the Samoans, who should really have been penalised much earlier by the referee. There is aggressive and then there is downright dirty, and the Samoans were very much surfing the edge. As for Brian Lima’s tackle on Pretorius, he should have been sent from the field, even if he concussed himself. Late and high tackles are a feature of this side and it has to stop. Remember what they did to Andre Joubert in the 1995 World Cup? We did, however, come into our own, playing some great rugby and scoring some amazing tries. Bryan Habana, take a bow.
It’s a real pity about Jean de Villiers’s injury; he really has such crap luck. I am glad, though, that Wayne Julies is flying in to take his place, although I feel for Waylon Murray. I think a specialist inside is exactly what was needed, especially with our weak link in the side being the other replacement centre, Wynand Olivier or “Meisiekind”. Francois Steyn had a great game at inside when he came in and it looks like he may have the inside lane come the England game on Friday. While I am a big fan of this player, I hope that he doesn’t have any of those brain explosions he is prone to.
Bring on England!