The top 4 teams from the Rugby World Cup went into battle. Here’s my review of what could be considered a mini world cup.
1 New Zealand 30pts 2 Australia 13pts 3 South Africa 10pts 4 Argentina 5pts
So how did you predict the table would turn out?
1 New Zealand 2 Argentina 3 Australia 4 South Africa
Australia, South Africa and Argentina all won their home games against each other. The exception was Argentina’s “home” game against Australia that they held at Twickenham in London. I though that they would win their home games against each other and based my predicted table on that but forgot about the Twickenham game.
The All Blacks were a class above from the start and the others were always fighting it out for second place. In the end the results were predictable, for example I had a 100% record of predicting the games round by round.
The All Blacks swept all before them winning all their 6 games with a TBP and picking up the maximum possible 30 points. There are plenty of other stats that can be quoted to show the All Blacks dominance such as scoring more tries than the other 3 teams combined.
The real victory for them though was the introduction of new players seamlessly such as Lienert-Brown and the much called for McKenzie. The real victory though has been in the forwards where they have played multiple players with less than 10 caps. We have seen the All Blacks future and it’s been achieved without a dropoff in performances. The only question mark I think that remains is their ability to change the game plan on the pitch. If there is an issue it often has to wait until halftime for it to be fixed and the on field leadership will be something I think that they will be working on.
The Wallabies were really hard to grade, they came off the back of 3 losses to England and backed that up with 2 more against New Zealand. Then they gained 3 wins out of 4 games. They were in the final of the Rugby World Cup less than a year ago and so we were expecting that level of performance.
What we forgot and many people haven’t taken into account is the turnover of players. If we look at the Wallabies squad at the end of the Rugby Championship Genia is the only player that’s based in France. Also there were a lot of players introduced or with very few caps such as Coleman, Kerevi and Haylett-Petty who all looked good in that final game against Argentina. So whilst they didn’t put in great performances throughout the Championship we can see where they are going.
The Boks came off the back of a mixed series against the Irish. Starting with Pollard and Lambie injured they went for the Lions halfback pair of de Klerk and Jantjies. Unfortunately the whole team never looked like being on the same page on how to play. This led them reverting to Morné Steyn and a very limited kicking game and ending with a record defeat to the All Blacks.
Again many people are overlooking the number of inexperienced players in the squad with many having less than 10 caps. The problem though is that no one could see what the Boks were trying to do and the problems are more at the coaching level rather than players. Until the coaching staff can get sorted out and get some experienced help the Boks are going to struggle.
The Pumas goal was 2 wins and that could very easily have got them second place in the Championship. Moving their last home game against the Wallabies to Twickenham could very easily have cost them reaching that goal. The common view is that it was for the money but apparently they struggled to find a ground available in Argentina.
They continued to play a very expansive game plan and stuck to their guns on only picking players from either Argentina or Super Rugby. This could see more players coming back from Europe to play for the Jaguares. At the moment thought though they look too dependent on Hernández at 12 to provide some game management and once he was injured they were in trouble. He’s now 34 and finding his replacement has to be their top priority.
It’s going to be interesting seeing all these teams on their November tours to Europe and I can’t wait.
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