We are now through the pool phase of the tournament. South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and Argentina all came out on top. The second place teams were England, Fiji, Scotland and France.
The competition for first and second place in Pool D was tight. France, Argentina and Ireland all had a shot at first and second place. Ultimately, France beat Georgia, securing second place. It came down to the match between Argentina and Ireland. I was torn. Who do I cheer for? My family background is very strongly Scotch-Irish, so there’s a certain amount of loyalty I feel for both Scotland and Ireland. But I have an affinity for South America, specifically Argentina, after years of study and living in Buenos Aires for a bit. Ultimately I cheered for Argentina. The desire to see an underdog team do well beat out the family heritage loyalty. They’ve never made it this far in a Rugby World Cup, and it’s very very exciting.
The Quarter-final matches are this weekend. This is a knock-out round. If you lose, that’s it, your quest for the Cup is over. The slate for the weekend is as follows:
Australia v. England
New Zealand v. France
South Africa v. Fiji
Argentina v. Scotland
Well, I feel fairly safe predicting that the Tri-Nations teams (Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa) will win and be moving on to the Semis. And my predictions are based on history. Of the last 5 cups, one of those three teams has won four of them. And unfortunately I don’t think Fiji has a chance against South Africa. But France and England should give their opponents a run for their money which will make for some exciting rugby. The Australia-England game could be described as a grudge match. England beat Australia to win the cup in 2003. So Australia is out for blood (well, at least to redeem themselves).
And once again, my family heritage loyalty is being pitted against the underdog. Crap. But again, I think my desire to see the underdog do well is going to beat out that loyalty again. Regardless, the game will probably be close. Argentina has won all their matches, but the point spreads have not been large, creating some serious nail-biting moments.
So you all know what I will be doing this weekend. I’ll be watching rugby, and probably doing my fair share of yelling at my TV. And hockey started up again this week (go Detroit Red Wings!) so I have a fantasy team to manage. In between matches, I’ll be working on refining my roster. I already have one player out on injured reserve…not a good sign. I need to fix that this weekend.