A bold move has been made by New Zealand Rugby (NZR) to resume with the domestic Super Rugby competition in June. This is welcome news to many rugby fans who are craving a bit of action. I think every rugby is ready for the show to go on now as we have all watched a the highlights of every game under the sun by this stage of lockdown.
What we have to look forward to now is 10 weeks of unbelievable show stopping New Zealand footy. A total of 20 games will be played if all goes according to plan. NZR reports that all players will be screened in order to prevent further spread and the games will be played in empty stadiums until further notice.
Team members will also have to minimize contact outside of team bubbles in order to prevent the virus from coming into the competition. Another regulation that NZR has brought in is that away teams will fly in and out on game day instead of staying in the away location.
An exciting prospect is that we may get to see Beauden Barrett in a Blues jersey for the first time, which could spice up the competition. The teams will have had a full month to prepare once the first whistle blows and all we know is that there are a lot of happy rugby fans that cannot wait to see that first line break, offload and scintillating try. So hang in there for a little bit longer and trust me my friends we will see rugby again.
Fiji, Tonga, and Samoa have historically been known for their brute like physicality and their dazzling skills. Players from the Pacific Islands have become high valued commodities in some of the most renowned rugby clubs in the world. This might be the reason that these nations are struggling to pull things together though. On 7 September 2019 the All Blacks demolished Tonga 92-7, which left the rugby world frustrated. Tonga which has such a wealth of talent just haven’t been able to pull it together. However, you look at it though should we sit here and blame Tonga or should we look at the current world rugby season set up and structure which has given Tonga very little time to prepare for their Rugby World Cup campaign.
World Rugby Season?
What is a global rugby season? This is the idea that all teams in the world will play on the same schedule, which will allow all teams the same amount of preparation time. This does not happen however due to a split between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, who play on different schedules. All Blacks stalwart coach Steven Hansen said in the Tonga vs NZL post match press conference, “The problem that we’ve got is a calendar that doesn’t allow you to do that,” referring to the situation. Hansen offered a solution to the problem saying, “We have these wonderful ideas about growing the game but we don’t have an organisation at the top that wants to be strong enough to say ‘righto – this is what we’re doing, we’re going to have a global season.” Is it now time for World Rugby to reshuffle the playing cards and introduce a global system?
What good will a global season do?
This global rugby season Hansen is referring to would give these Pacific Island teams more time to prepare. The results of this would lead to more competitive test match rugby and also allow for more growth outside of the top tier. Hansen puts the problem the Pacific Island nations face in perspective saying, “It’s really difficult [for me] when your players play for five different franchises in New Zealand“, Hansen then went on to say, “So I can only imagine how difficult it would be when your players are playing all over the world and you’re bringing them back and you don’t have much time to prepare them.” Hansen is referring to the fact that most of the best Pacific Island players play in Europe due to the fact that there is more money in the game over there. Due to this factor, a priority is often given to the clubs, and players neglect their nations or are withheld from certain international competitions.
With all the talent that exists in the Pacific Islands hopefully soon in the near future there will be systems put in place that will allow for these great and fierce rugby nations to rise and really be counted on the big stage of world rugby. From an outsider looking in it looks to me as though the organisations need to get it right in terms of trying to put structures in place. Systems that give nations more power to dictate to clubs about whether players can play for their nations or not. It would be great to see these great nations playing more on the world stage and seeing what they can do at this year’s RWC.
Super Rugby is a competition that has been through many changes over its lifetime. The competition has been through phases of growth and phases of downsizing, as the organizers search for the winning formula. It has always been a competition that has never stopped giving the fans a thrill. An evening at the rugby for the most part always delivers the fans with some great entertainment. In recent years stadiums have emptied and fans aren’t coming to watch the live event anymore. Why is this the case and has this been caused by the ever changing format, which has meant less touring time and overall a lower amount of international derby games. There are so many things to analyse and understand. In this post I look at the data surrounding the demise of Super Rugby fans and try and look for what could be causing this demise.
Super Rugby has undergone 4 changes in the past 22 years, which have led to a great expansion of the competition. The changes have meant that Super Rugby is now played in Argentina, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, and South Africa. The competition has now reached a stage where the organizers need to fine tune the product that it is giving the consumer. The competition’s up sizing and introducing of more teams from around the world meant that the format, which made it such a great brand to watch was lost. The conference system has had much criticism from fans and pundits alike. Radio New Zealand senior journalist Ben Strang shared his thoughts on the situation saying, “I think as long as TV rules over the scheduling of Super Rugby matches, crowds will continue to struggle.”
The above picture tells the story of how Super Rugby has changed through the years, but what effect has this actually had on the overall attendance of live games across South Africa? The data shows that between 2010 and 2018 the attendance at games in South Africa decreased by 60%. By looking at the timeline above this decrease began when the conference system was adopted. By putting two and two together is it possible to come to an understanding that the conference system is not a brand of Super Rugby that fans enjoy. This could be the reason that Super Rugby has announced that it will be moving back to the round robin format and switching back to 14 teams effective as of 2021.
Factors that have also influenced Super Rugby crowd attendance have also been economics. As the years have gone by the ticket prices have increased and an evening out is just not that affordable for the average person or family to go an attend. Stephen Kisbey-Green former sports editor of the Grocott’s Mail had this to say about the matter, “It’s difficult, because there are a lot of people that would like to go to the games, but the ticket prices and cost of getting to stadiums are just too expensive for them.” Stephen offers a solution to the matter saying, “Going back to the cost, I feel that stadiums are taking advantage of a “captive audience” market, meaning that they can up the cost of beer, cold drinks, and snacks to an almost exorbitant rate. If they made packages for games more cost effective, and introduced a tier system of fees, that might help the struggling rugby fan to afford the event.” Franchises still need to make money, but without the fans there would be no competition.
As an avid fan of rugby Super Rugby is something that I think has to be fixed if Southern Hemisphere teams are ever going to compete with Northern Hemisphere teams for the best players in the world. The lure of Northern money has become a big problem when it comes to retaining the best players in Super Rugby who get offered big contracts to play in Northern Hemisphere leagues such as the Premiership Rugby in the UK and French Top 14. The consequence of this drain of players also means that less fans are tuning in or going to the stadiums as all the stars are not present on the field anymore. If Super Rugby becomes the competition it once was sponsors will once again flock to the competition and teams will be able to retain the players, which will mean that the interest of fans will grow again.
Due to the way that rugby is approached in the Southern Hemisphere where the youth grow up in a very rugby orientated culture. In the South kids are born with a rugby ball in their hands and to reinforce that a lot of emphasis is put on rugby at schools. The school rugby scene is very big with high-school and university games being broadcast on national television. A big emphasis is put on the sport from a young age. Naturally this creates a situation where, the youth coming through the system have a great understanding of the game.
Due to the climate in the South the game that is played is very different to way it is played in the North. This is mainly due to the climate as in the South rugby is played in summer and winters are usually dry, which means less kicking and more running rugby. On the other hand in the North there is more emphasis on goal kicking from penalties and this comes down to the wet climate, which makes it harder to play a running style of rugby. This means that players in the North and players in the South for the most part are playing two different brands or types of rugby. The South being quite fast and the North being quite slow and more orientated around strength rather than skill. With this being said Northern Hemisphere teams have started to play a more attractive styled running rugby in recent years and this has led to some close encounters between teams hailing from the two hemispheres.
Are the tables turning?
Recent years have seen Northern Hemisphere teams go from strength to strength. This can be seen in the recent change at the top of world rugby rankings, where Wales have gone number one replacing New Zealand who slipped up their final Rugby Championship games against Australia. To go a long with this the British and Irish Lions tour of New Zealand in 2017 showed promise for the North and they drew the series with the All Blacks. At the helm of the North’s resurgence are Southern Hemisphere coach’s. Warren Gatland from New Zealand is head coach of both Wales and The British and Irish Lions which are the two teams that have played a major role in putting the North back on the radar. Joe Schmidt another New Zealander has also played a major role as head coach of Ireland who have beaten New Zealand twice in the past three years. Eddie Jones of Australia is also showing promise as the Head coach of the English national side who narrowly lost to New Zealand at the end of 2018.
If there was a time for things to change it would be this year as we see how the North has put itself back on the rugby map. As it stands three out of the four teams, which the numbers are favoring to win the Web Ellis trophy hail from the Northern Hemisphere. These teams are Ireland, England and Wales, along with the only team from the Southern Hemisphere being New Zealand. Therefore, this could be the year that we finally see the tables turn once and for all in favor of Northern Hemisphere sides. At the end of the day only time will tell if the Northern Hemisphere have bridged the gap.
As Rugby World Cup (RWC) 2019 closes in its time to explore what it is going to take to win the hallowed Web Ellis trophy. In this post I am going to look what various bits of data can tell us and see what the experts have to say about the topic. I will unpack the build up and the conditioning, as well as the mindset of a RWC winning team. Finally, which teams embrace these characteristics as a RWC winning team. Lets find out…
As the famous quote by Benjamin Franklin goes, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Most of the teams will have been preparing for the world cup since the end of the last world cup. There would have been a lot of introspection and looking at where they went wrong and how they can best improve themselves so that they can be at the top of their game come kick off in Japan. Some teams would have had more time to prepare than others and some will just be happy to have qualified for the tournament. However, every team that is there will have had to have put in some sort of work to realize their goals at this years RWC. Famous rugby coach Eddie Jones wrote this of his preparations with the England side in an article for the Japanese Times, “A well-prepared team can beat a team that’s better physically and athletically. We did that with Japan against South Africa in 2015. If you’re better-prepared tactically, you can beat other teams. When it comes to the World Cup, you have to maximize your resources and that means maximizing your preparation.”
Experience is key.
In terms of winning a RWC every team that has won a world cup has had one thing in common and that was that they all had a wealth of experience. Previous winners in the professional era of the game have never had lower than 633 total caps in their team. The lowest average number of caps in a team was the Australian winning side of 1999, which averaged 42,20 caps. The highest average number of caps in a World Cup winning side was the New Zealand side that won in 2015 who had an average of 66,40 caps. This is a key thing to highlight as the more familiar players are with the team and the high pressure that test rugby brings the more successful they are likely to be.
What do the stats say?
Any team that has ever won the RWC has won all of their games at the tournament and so if you want win the tournament you should start by aiming for that 100% win record at the tournament. The world rankings mean very little going into a RWC, which will give hope to some of the lower ranked teams, however the only team to have won a RWC and not been ranked number 1 before the start of the tournament was South Africa. Team form between world cups is not a great indicator, which is similar to world rankings. A thing to note from the statistics was that teams that generally did well at the tournament started peaking just before the tournament. Teams that have won the RWC generally have had ad least 5 world class players. This stat tells us that a coach can build a team around 5 players. These players would be in key positions such as hooker, lock, 8th man, and the halfbacks.
With all this being said I think that this years RWC is going to be one of the most exciting world cups in world rugby history. This is due to the way that most of the international teams have been playing over the past two years. Most games between top teams are very close and tough to call, which makes it more exciting and thrilling to watch. I think that this world cup will have us on the edge of our seats and there maybe a few upsets on the cards. Ultimately it comes down to more than just numbers, stats and preparation. The key thing is that you have an unbreakable team that is able to stand up and play when it is most important. You need players that have that determination to fight for each other and get over the line. As they say rugby can be a funny game sometimes. At the moment if I were to pick a favorite it would definitely be Wales due to their recent form and the fact that they have managed to beat South Africa consistently over the last 4 year cycle.
What has drawn many women to rugby is that it allows them to break down a patriarchal stereotype. It is also highly beneficial and helps maintain physical fitness. Playing rugby is also good for the mind like many other sport, as well as having social benefits because it makes it easier to make friends and spend time with people before and after games.
The pay gap
There is much to do when it comes to gender equality in rugby. The biggest disparity is seen in the gender pay gap. The men’s game is professional meaning that players get full salaries that support them while they play. Most women get paid next to nothing for their efforts, which means they have to hold down a full time jobs whilst playing. If they get injured and cannot work this will put these women under immense financial pressure.
England have become the first rugby nation to offer women full professional contracts to play. This could most certainly lead to their dominance in the game as these ladies will be able to fully devote themselves to training, meaning that they will not have to work a full time job whilst also having to focus on training. Other nations such as New Zealand, France and Australia have also made steps to give players better pay, but none have been as bold as the English in offering players lucrative full time contracts.
The justification for the pay gap between men’s teams and women’s teams comes down to media coverage. Most men’s games are broadcast on national television and aired at prime time. This draws sponsors to the teams that are playing in these games. In order to get more funding into the women’s game, more sponsorship is needed. The problem is that sponsors rely on media coverage. This is why sports such as tennis and athletics have equal pay for men and women, because both both genders have the same media coverage. Therefore, in order to get more money into women’s rugby there needs to be an increase in the media coverage. Inevitably, if there is no increase in the media coverage of women’s rugby then the cycle of unequal and low pay will continue.
Can broadcasters take a chance on women?
People are definitely taking more interest in the women’s game and this is most notably seen in England and France where more investment is coming into the game. The women’s Six Nations competition is currently being broadcast on television, which will help in attracting new sponsors to those teams. Fans are also getting behind their teams and coming out in numbers to watch games. In March of 2018 an attendance of 17440 was reached at Stade des Alpes for the Six Nations game where England faced off against France. That same weekend saw the Principality Stadium fulled with 11062 fans who came out to watch Wales take on Italy. These numbers bode well for future investment in women’s rugby.
Women are needed
In order for rugby to grow and expand the mindset that rugby is a men’s sport needs to change. Women needed to be considered equal to men in the sport and investment needs to grow. Rugby can help break down the boundaries that separate men and women in our society today. The game still has a long way to go, but progress is already being made and hopefully soon both genders will be on the same playing field, which will be exciting to see.
Japan Is full of amazing things to see that will most certainly blow your mind. The Land of The Rising son has given birth to Honda, Nintendo and Sushi. Japan has brought the world many weird and wonderful things over the years. Travelling to Japan must be a thrilling unforgettable experience. In this post I highlight three restaurants that guests a unique dining experience. I know that there are definitely more than three, but unfortunately I cannot include them all. I hope that this list helps enhance your experience whilst travelling Japan.
1. Robot Restaurant, Tokyo Red Light District
With great reviews and amazing reactions, what is not to like about Robot Restaurant? The restaurant hosts a 90 minute show that takes the viewer to another universe. A blend of Japanese culture, robots, dinosaurs, cabaret and lasers. Get prepared to have your mind blown away. Tickets can be bought online. You not only get to see what this amazing show has to offer but you get dinner as well. The restaurant is located in the Shinjuku’s Kabukicho District of Tokyo (otherwise known as the red light district), however do not let that idea scare you away as it is female friendly and one of the most vibrant areas of Tokyo.
2. Izakaya Toyo, Osaka
Izakaya Toyo is located in Osaka, a city known as the Kitchen of Japan. This famous street food restaurant was started by the legendary street food chef Toyo who moved to Osaka when he was 15 to better his life. He started off as a dishwasher at his aunts bar and after two years began cooking and learning his craft. He then started saving to start up his own Izakaya (informal Japanese pub) and what started out running off the back of his truck is now a world famous establishment that has been running for 26 years. Izakaya Toyo did so well that it got a full Episode on the Netflix series Street Food. Toyo has become famous for cooking tuna cheek with a blow torch and his bare hands. He also has a killer sense of humor and is loved by the locals. If you are looking for a proper authentic fun Japanese experience, which can be compared to going to an Irish pub then look no further than Izakaya Toyo. Be warned you may have to wait a while because of popularity, but it is definitely worth it and the tripadviser reviews don’t lie.
3. Ninja Akasaka, Tokyo
Ninja Akasaka has used a Japanese icon and used it to conceive a dining experience like no other. The restaurant is hidden away in the high-class Akasaka region of Tokyo. Ninja is more than just a meal. This is a thrilling journey through ancient Japan. At the front door ninjas guide guests through a series of secret passage ways on an adventure to their table. Diners are able to dine in a private room, which resembles the traditional Japanese dining culture. The experience is authentic up to the level that patrons have to sit on the floor. All staff are dressed traditionally as Ninjas and the menu is presented on a scroll taking patrons back in time. At first this sounds very odd, but according to the reviews it is one of the most mind blowing dinning experiences in the world. The ninja restaurant aims to transport guests to another dimension. If you really want to get the full experience it is recommended that you go for the set menu. Some of the dishes are also filled with theater, using fire to entertain guests. This is definitely more fine dining, but it seems as though it is worth every penny.
These three restaurants are each unique and all offer something completely different. If you are planning on heading to Japan for the Rugby World Cup you should definitely make an effort to try and experience one of these unique restaurants. If you are looking for futuristic entertainment, then I would highly recommend heading to the mind blowing Robot Restaurant. Trying to get a taste for Japanese culture and walk the streets then Izakaya Toyo is probably the place for you. If you are looking for a traditional Japanese dining experience, then Ninja Akaksaka has it all. I have tried to tailor this post to have a choice for everyone. However, if you feel that somewhere else should have been included please leave it in the comments and let me know. I hope that this post helps add another dimension to your trip to Japan.
The rugby world knows little about Japanese rugby and how popular the sport is in the land of the rising sun. When you think about rugby, Japan doesn’t necessarily come to mind. However, contrary to this bias, the host nation of this year’s 2019 Rugby World Cup (RWC) has a rich rugby history. This years RWC is being played in Asia for the first time, which is very exciting for world rugby. In this post I explore the origins of rugby in Japan as well as the rugby structures present in the country.
New Zealand & Australia
Figure 1: showing host nations and years of rugby world cups.
Created by Joshua Parsons.
The history of rugby in Japan
Rugby was first played in Japan in 1866, when the first Rugby Club in Japan was founded called the Yokohama Foot Ball Club. Rugby was played in Japan before big rugby playing nations such as France, New Zealand and South Africa. The only other places with a longer history are Australia and The British Isles. The Yokohama Foot Ball Club was the first ever Asian rugby club. The establishment of Yokohama Foot Ball Club came about due to over a thousand British troops who were stationed in the area. Many had played Rugby at school in England. The large number of troops made it easy to play as back in those days 40 players were needed to play a game. This was the foundation of rugby in Japan and is also the untold history of how the game started in the land of the rising son.
The father of Japanese rugby
The Japanese began playing rugby at Keio University in 1899. Ginnosuke Tanaka and Edward Bramwell Clarke introduced the great game to the men of classes they taught at the University. The University played their first official game in 1901 against expatriates of the Yokohama County Athletics team. The team established fixtures against other clubs and soon the sport grew in Universities. This lead to the first inter-university game being played between Doshisha and Waseda Universities in 1923. The early 1920’s saw rugby grow rapidly in Japan, having over 60 000 players and 1 500 clubs. Tanaka is now remembered as ‘the father of Japanese rugby’. The birth of rugby in the land of the rising son led to the first ever Japanese tour in 1930. The national team traveled to Canada and had great success winning 6 games and losing 1. The ‘Brave Blossoms’ have participated in every RWC since its inception in 1987.
How popular is rugby in Japan today?
Japan is the fourth biggest rugby playing nation in the world with a population of 122 872 rugby players as well as having 3 631 official clubs. The national side nicknamed The Cherry Blossoms or The Brave Blossoms are ranked 11th in world rugby. Although rugby is only the 5th most popular sport in Japan they have a competitive domestic league called Top League.Top League draws players from many strong rugby nations. There are well known players such as Daniel Carter and Matt Giteau who have had stints playing in Japan.
University rugby in Japan
Rugby is popular at Universities around Japan, which participate in The All-Japan University Rugby Football Championship. The championship kicked off in 1964 and currently there are currently 16 universities competing. The most successful University in the competition is Waseda University who have won 15 Championships. The final is usually well attended having close 40 000 spectators as of 2005. The University rugby culture in Japan is very competitive. University teams often play against professional teams, however there is a gulf in class between the two levels.
Why will the RWC be special?
Japan is an exciting new frontier for world rugby fans as all the world cups to date have been hosted by top tier nations of rugby. This new frontier could open a new dimension and will help grow the game in Asia. The expansion of rugby into this new realm, which most orthodox rugby supporters know very little about is one of general excitement. A ticket to Japan will be a prized possession come 20 September 2019.
I have been to many rugby games and I have learnt the hard way about things to do and things not to do on game day. I am writing this post to help you have the most enjoyable day possible at the game. Big events like world cups are usually very efficient and well organised, but it is still good to be prepared for any eventuality that may occur. Watching test match and professional rugby is something special and something that I hold very dear to my heart. So the first rule must definitely be fun. Here are the 6 tips I have for a good day at the game.
1. Get there early
Most big games draw crowds that are upwards of 60 000 people, which can mean large queues. If you want to stand in a queue for 30 minutes and rush to get to your seat without any food or beverages be my guest. For me however that is not enjoyable. When you get to the stadium early you get to meet your fellow supporters, and take in the atmosphere that attending a professional or international test match brings. There are often match build ups that begin ad least an hour in advance that get you in the mood for the game. This will also give you time to locate the nearest bar and toilet.
2. Get the best tickets possible
Your enjoyment can also come down to where you are sitting in the stadium, although you can enjoy the game from anywhere in the stadium there are certain seats that are better for viewing the game than others. My perfect seat would be midway up and as close to the halfway line as possible. This seat will give you the best view of the action as possible. If the game is going on during the day you may also want to figure out where the shade will be and try and get a seat in the shade. Sitting in the sun can really drain your energy.
3. Organize transport for before and after
Going to rugby games sometimes involve drinking beer and having a good time with your friends and fellow fans. Having to worry about driving yourself to and from the stadium can limit your enjoyment of the game. This is why if you are able to afford it you may want to Uber or take a taxi to and from the stadium. Depending on where the game is you may be able to get public transport. Another more affordable option is to get a large group of people together and split a bus or mini bus. They don’t have to be people you know and you can easily find people with today’s social media. Having a large group is probably the most affordable option. Create a check point and a time that you want to meat before and after. Using this method will mean you don’t have to worry about drinking and driving and you don’t have to worry about finding parking.
4. Dress appropriately
I know this is probably an obvious one, but you need to wear the right clothes for the conditions. Check the weather for the time of the game and see if it is going to change and get colder or warmer. If it is going to get colder during the day you should definitely bring something warm. Make sure that it is easy to carry and maybe put it in a back pack as carrying a large jacket or jumper around could quite possibly limit you and ruin your day. Jeans are always a good option especially if you are going to be wearing a supporters jersey. The bottom line is if you are too hot or too cold, your experience of the day will be ruined as you won’t be able to enjoy yourself.
5. Go with a friend
Going to a big game alone can be intimidating, having a mate with you will most definitely enhance your experience. Shared experiences help you grow closer to people so maybe this is your chance to take your boyfriend or girlfriend as a nice gift. Maybe you want want to reconnect with a relative or friend. A ticket or day at the game can be the perfect birthday gift and a memory that someone will cherish for the rest of their life. However on the off chance that you aren’t able to go with a friend, be sure to make friends with the people sitting around you. A good way to ensure that you always have someone to watch the game with is by joining the supporters club of the team you support. I went to the RWC 2015 semi-final on my own and made friends with the guy sitting next to me and we ended up having a jolly old time. Make the best of your situation.
6. Don’t take your eyes off the game
In rugby the game can move so quickly and if you blink you may miss some amazing skill or a great line break or try. In order to not be left in the dark make sure that you don’t take your eyes off the game. A good tool to have whilst at a game is a pair of binoculars. This means that you can follow the game more closely especially if you are up on the top row of the stadium. A good tip to not take your eyes off the game is to get there early and make sure you use the toilet well in advance. If you want to drink and eat during the game then also make sure that you maybe buy two beers per half so that if one finishes ad least you don’t have to miss any of the action by getting up to get more beer. This will mean you don’t get left out and you can enjoy every moment of the amazing game we call rugby.
Have fun and enjoy
Follow these simple steps and plan out your day the day before in order to maximize your enjoyment. Once you have an easy to follow plan and follow this simple formula your enjoyment will sky rocket. The key to the success of a day is planning exactly what you want to do. One last tip is to go to a game with no expectations and no preconceived idea of what the day is going to be like. Usually your expectations are let down, so rather go there with an open mind and take in each moment. This will most definitely see you have a greater level of enjoyment. I hope you enjoyed reading this post as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Rugby World Cup 2019 (RWC 2019) kicks off on Friday 20 September in Tokyo. This is a tournament that only comes around every 4 years and never disappoints. The pool stages have a few treats lined up for the fans with some epic encounters that will be sure to have you on the edge of your seat. If you are travelling to Japan, and wondering what games you need to go and watch, don’t worry as I’ve got you covered. This post looks at the Rugby World Cup games that cannot be missed.
France vs Argentina, 21 September
This game sees 8th ranked France take on 10th ranked side Argentina on 21 September. This is a must win game in pool C “the pool of death”. With England expected to take the top position in the pool, it looks like these two sides are fighting it out for second spot in the pool. This makes for an exciting must win game for both sides. The two sides have previously met 51 times with France winning 36 and Argentina wining 14, with just one draw. Their most recent encounter in November 2018 saw Les Bleus taking the spoils on the day 28-13. This is not a match you want to miss. These two sides need the maximum points to kick start their tournament in the first game.
The Pool of Death Explained
The pool of death is a pool that contains 3 or more top tier nations, which means that these teams can contend for the top position in the pool. At every rugby world cup there has to be one of these pools due to the number of top quality teams in the rugby world cup. This year pool C can be labelled the pool of death due to the fact that England, France and Argentina are all in this pool. The pool also contains two wild card teams being the USA and Tonga who both have the ability to cause an upset against the three bigger rugby nations. This makes this Pool and extremely difficult one to call and this will also mean that one big rugby nation will miss out on a rugby world cup quarter final. This will definitely be a big talking point. For us fans though this is going to give us a great deal of entertainment.
This clash looks like it could decide who tops pool A. Ireland who are ranked 3rd in the world will be favorites going into the clash. However Scotland have shown some great fighting spirit leading up to the world cup and won’t let their 7th place world ranking mean anything. There is a lot of history between these arch rivals having played each other 135 times. Ireland having won 63 and Scotland having won 67 of these games. Looking at the recent form of these two teams this looks to be a game you don’t want to miss.
Argentina vs England, 5 October
This pool C clash in the pool of death looks to be one for the record books and is a must win game for both sides if they are to progress to the next stage of the tournament. England who are real contenders to take the world cup will take on an Argentinian side that always seems to peak during a RWC year. History indicates that England should have the upper hand winning 18 of the 23 games played between the two sides. Either way this game should be full of physicality and running rugby, looking at the way both sides have looked to play in recent years.
England vs France, 12 October
This pool of death encounter may decide who tops pool C. there will be no love lost when these two power houses of world rugby clash horns on Saturday 12 October. Looking at recent form England look favorites to take this one, however one should never write off France especially in a world cup year. In the 105 games these two teams have played against each other England have taken 58 and France have taken 40, with 7 games ending in a stale mate. The last time these two sides played England walked away 44-8 victors. This game is a must win game for both sides if either one of them want to go to the play offs.