Weekend Rugby Review – 13 June

What a weekend of International rugby! The great Northern uprising but that wasn’t the only rugby happening. Here’s my round-up of all the action.

International Rugby

Samoa 19 – 19 Georgia
Fiji 23 – 18 Tonga
New Zealand 39 – 21 Wales
Australia 28 – 39 England
South Africa 20 – 26 Ireland
Argentina 30 – 24 Italy
Canada 22 – 26 Japan
Namibia 34 – 32 Spain
Uruguay 0 – 40 Romania

7 from 9, a good start to the International window as there was a draw in there.

Georgia fronted up well especially when you consider they were missing players due to the Top14 and playing away in foreign conditions. With games against Tonga and Fiji to come it’s a tour that no tier 1 country would take on. Samoa will be concerned as they would’ve expected victory a home before their Rugby World Cup qualification games.

Fiji kicked off their qualification with the win they were looking for but Tonga pushed them closer than they would have wanted. Tonga will play their home games in Fiji as their ground in Tonga is not considered suitable. This has been the case since 2009 as I have said before. It will be interesting to see if they can overcome this handicap.

I was at Eden Park for the All Blacks against Wales. The Welsh came out and played much more expansive that previously still with a kicking game. The All Blacks played too loose and were making individual mistakes. Wales rightly led at halftime but left two tries out on the pitch through a lack of execution. Those points wouldn’t have been enough to win but it wold have applied a lot more pressure. It took halftime and the bench to win the game for New Zealand who pulled away in the last quarter. The All Blacks are renowned for rusty/slow starts so this was probably Wales’s best chance at victory.

The Wallabies came out of the blocks fast and created gaps out wide where they racked up a couple of tries. But this was billed as the battle of the coaches and so it proved. Injury disrupted the Wallabies and because of a 6/2 bench split they ended up with an unbalanced back line. At the same time Jones pulled Burrell off to have the twin ball players in Ford and Farrell. That tactical change and an immense amount of work by the forwards was enough to see England home.

The South Africa v Ireland game will be remembered for the red card and 14 men getting that first win. I have seen comments on both sides and initially felt it was harsh. I see the reasoning why it could be red and do agree that he didn’t have to turn his hip in and it was reckless. The outcome has become part of the laws as we have seen with contact in the air. Either way Ireland’s play was very clever and controlled with the ball which was impressive considering how little Jackson has played at this level. In defence they were immense and I can only remember the Boks getting past 5 phases once. If you can’t hold onto the ball you can’t apply pressure and that inevitably led to Ireland winning.

Argentina held off a surprisingly close Italy in the end. To be fair to Argentina they did take a lead but you should never let your foot off. Also Argentina did butcher an opportunity too but at the end of the day it’s what’s on the scoreboard that counts not what’s left on the pitch.

Japan were run close by Canada and Canada did have the ball over the line at the death, only they couldn’t get it down of the win. This is a good sign as I thought Japan could really struggle without Eddie Jones and the Sunwolves had been so poor. Scotland will be another big step up though over the next couple of weekends.

Namibia sneaked a win over Spain which shows there isn’t a big gap between those that made the Rugby World Cup and the next level down. Finally Romania won a game over two days. The original game was stopped due to lightning and resumed the next day. In the end they continued where they left off and got a big win over Uruguay.

World Rugby U20s Championship

Round 1
France U20 15 – 24 Argentina U20
South Africa U20 59 – 19 Japan U20
Wales U20 25 – 26 Ireland U20
Australia U20 10 – 15 Scotland U20
England U20 48 – 10 Italy U20
New Zealand U20 55 – 0 Georgia U20

3 from 6, the top teams all won but the rest were upsets.

Round 2
Australia U20 38 – 10 Italy U20
New Zealand U20 24 – 33 Ireland U20
Wales U20 10 – 9 Georgia U20
France U20 46 – 14 Japan U20
South Africa U20 13 – 19 Argentina U20
England U20 44 – 0 Scotland U20

3 from 6, 2 of the top teams were upset but the 1 I picked wasn’t.

This has been the most competitive U20s tournament that I can remember. There have been a number of upsets that have not only been amongst the middle teams but also the top ones. There are too many games to go through but this really is where you will see the stars of tomorrow. Only SBW for the All Blacks squad at the Rugby World Cup last year hadn’t played in this tournament for example.

Top 14

Racing Metro 92 21 – 16 Toulouse
Montpellier 28 – 9 Castres

Racing have earned the right to visit Clermont in the semi-finals whilst Montpellier will travel to Toulon.

ProRugby

Ohio 55 – 29 San Diego

This was an important win for Ohio as they are now tied on 22 points with San Diego in the table. Ohio’s 91 points difference puts them in second behind Denver with San Diego in third. 14 points back are San Francisco with Sacramento bringing  up the rear on 5 points.

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