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Rugby World Cup 2011: Looking at the Group Stages

 

With the 2011 Rugby Union World Cup fast approaching, Impact’s Will Cook takes a closer look at what each of the twenty teams will face in the Group stages.  A full fixture list for the group stages is included at the end of the article. 

Pool A
New Zealand, France, Tonga, Canada, Japan.

This pool is all about the hosts and favourites, New Zealand and their perennial saboteurs, France. The All Blacks are clear favourites for the title, despite their latter displays in the Tri Nations. The question still remains though as to whether New Zealand can perform well when in a tight game, something they have failed to do so on previous occasions, most notably against France in Cardiff four years ago. A problem exacerbated in front of an expectant home crowd. France meanwhile, must overcome their chronic inconsistency- on their day they are world beaters, but lose to New Zealand in the pool stage and they are likely to face England in the Quarter-finals. France will feel that despite poor form in this year’s Six Nations, that they can beat New Zealand on their own patch after victory there last summer. Among the lesser sides, look out for Tonga and Northampton’s Soane Tonga’uiha, the colossal, bulldozing unit of a prop who is the star of a very psychical Tongan side.

Favourites New Zealand.

Look for an upset from Tonga.

Pool B
England, Argentina, Scotland, Romania, Georgia.

This is a group that England should win at a canter, though matches against Scotland and the Pumas could develop into banana skins. The interest within this group is in the match between the Scots and Argentina. Scotland will fancy their chances having beaten the Pumas twice last summer in South America and with the mercurial Juan Martin Hernandez out injured, Scotland will be slight favourites despite an abysmal Six Nations. For England, winning the competition is perhaps a little out of reach given their lack of both experience and leadership, which was apparent in the crushing defeat to Ireland in March when aiming for the Grand Slam. Martin Johnson is likely to view this year’s tournament as a taste of big match experience for a major challenge in 2015 on home turf when the likes of Toby Flood and Ben Youngs are hardened by greater experience. Having said all that, the semi-finals are a distinct possibility.

Favourites England.

Look for an upset from Scotland.

Pool C
Australia, Ireland, Italy, United States, Russia.

One would expect Australia to top Pool C although do not be too surprised if Declan Kidney’s Ireland upset the odds. Australia’s inability to win an abundance of ball in the forwards will be a greater problem against the northern hemisphere sides, who unlike their southern counterparts, will pile bodies into the ruck to slow any ball the Wallabies can muster. Behind the scrum however, the Aussies are arguably the best in the world, a case strengthened by their success in this year’s Tri Nations. They have the creative genius of Will Genia and Quade Cooper and extreme pace out wide with the likes of James O’Connor and Kurtley Beale. Ireland also boast a strong backline featuring the likes of Tommy Bowe and Rob Kearney, but it is an aging side, that at times are overly reliant on Brian O’ Driscoll for guidance, coupled with their continued search for a trusty fly-half, they are unlikely to challenge for a place in the final. As ever, watch out for Italy’s Olympian God, Sergio Parisse, easily the best number eight in world rugby.

Favourites Australia.

Look for an upset from Ireland or Italy.

Pool D
South Africa, Wales, Samoa, Fiji, Namibia.

If one can attribute the ‘group of death’ tag to one of this year’s pools, then it can be assigned to Pool D. Any one of Wales, Samoa or Fiji could realistically join South Africa in the quarter-finals. Wales and Fiji played out an enthralling 16-16 draw in November, from which Wales recovered to give an impressive Six Nations showing. One must not forget of course Fiji’s defeat of Wales in France four years ago that knocked Wales out embarrassingly in the pool phase. Samoa too have shown that they are serious contenders for a quarter-final berth after a shock 32-23 win over Australia in a world cup warm up game. South Africa’s sights however are set firmly on the title. Despite the mounting pressure on head coach Pieter de Villiers after a dissapointing showing in this year’s Tri Nations; the power of the Springbok pack will see them successfully naviagate their way out of this group.

Favourites South Africa.

Look for an upset from Samoa or Fiji.

Will Cook

Group Stage Fixtures (all times GMT 24h)

Friday, September 9th
09.30 New Zealand – Tonga

Saturday, September 10th
02.00 Scotland – Romania
04.30 Fiji – Namibia
07.00 France – Japan
09.30 Argentina – England

Sunday, September 11th
04.30 Australia – Italy
07.00 Ireland – USA
09.30 South Africa – Wales

Wednesday, September 14th
03.30 Samoa – Namibia
06.00 Tonga – Canada
08.30 Scotland – Georgia

Thursday, September 15th
08.30 Russia – USA

Friday, September 16th
09.00 New Zealand – Japan

Saturday, September 17th
04.30 Argentina – Romania
07.00 South Africa – Fiji
09.30 Australia – Ireland

Sunday, September 18th
04.30 Wales – Samoa
07.00 England – Georgia
09.30 France – Canada

Tuesday, September 20th
08.30 Italy – Russia

Wednesday, September 21st
08.30 Tonga – Japan

Thursday, September 22nd
09.00 South Africa – Namibia

Friday, September 23rd
09.30 Australia – USA

Saturday, September 24th
07.00 England – Romania
09.30 New Zealand – France

Sunday, September 25th
04.30 Fiji – Samoa
07.00 Ireland – Russia
09.30 Argentina – Scotland

Monday, September 26th
08.30 Wales – Namibia

Tuesday, September 27th
06.00 Canada – Japan
08.30 Italy – USA

Wednesday, September 28th
08.30 Georgia – Romania

Friday, September 30th
09.30 South Africa – Samoa

Saturday, October 1st
04.30 Australia – Russia
07.00 France – Tonga
09.30 England – Scotland

Sunday, October 2nd
02.00 Argentina – Georgia
04.30 New Zealand – Canada
07.00 Wales – Fiji
09.30 Ireland – Italy

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  • Rugby World Cup 2011 | Ones to Watch
    9 September 2011 at 01:46
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