Formed 2004 ... Herts 7s U14 Runners-up 2005 ... North Herts U14 team, Herts Youth Games 2005 runners-up (coached by Letchworth)... Herts Superteams U14 Runners-up 2005 ... Herts SuperTeams "Fairplay" winners 2006 ... Rochford 10s U17 Champions 2006 ... East Midlands 10s U17 Runners-up 2007 ... East Midlands 10s U17 "Fairplay" winners 2007 ... National 10s U17 5th place and "Fairplay" winners 2007 ... Herts 7s U17 Plate runners-up 2007 ... National 7s U17 Plate winners 2007 ... RFU "President's XV" Award winners 2007 ... Herts Superteams winners 2007 ... Midlands 10s U18 Runners-up 2008 ... National 10s U18 4th place 2008 ... North Herts U11 team, Herts Youth Games 2008 runners-up (coached by Letchworth girls) ... London and SE 7s U18 Plate runners-up 2008 ... Herts 7s U18s runners-up 2008 ... National 7s U18s quarter-finalists 2008 ... Gloucester City 10s U18 Bowl runner-up (6th) 2009 ... Worthing 10s U18 Plate runner-up 2009 ... National 7s U18 Plate winners 2009... Worthing 10s U15 Plate winners 2010... Worthing 10s U18 Shield winners 2010... Herts 7s U15 and U18 Bowl runners-up 2010... National 7s U18 Plate runners-up 2010...

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

World Cup: Formalities over... now for the main event!

The Women's Rugby World Cup is only two days away! The launch took place yesterday evening at City Hall in London (see ScrumQueens for report) and the first round of games is on Friday.

Though the likely finalists will be England and New Zealand (though by no means a foregone conclusion as it is quite possible that they might meet in a semi final, if France or Canada's results go well - see below), the rest of the tournament is remarkably open, though we may get a clearer picture of how things will go after the first round of games.

The tournament opens with Canada v Scotland in Pool C (12.00). Not only is this whole pool interesting as it contains neither of the favourites, and so the outcome is not as obvious, but Canada and France (who will finish in the top two places) should also be attempting to score as many tries as they can on the way. This is not only in order to ensure that the runner-up has a good chance of winning the fourth semi-final place, but also because the group winner will be aiming to avoid England and New Zealand - which they could well do.

The semi-final draw will be decided based on performances in the pools - the group winner with the most points and tries will get the top seeding, and will play the best runner-up. What this means is that if Canada and France can really rack up the points in their opening games then a place in the final is a real possibility.

And they have a real chance of doing that. Canada open against Scotland, who they have not lost to since 1994 (ancient history in women's rugby). Since then every game has been won by Canada by a larger and larger margin, the last result being a 45-3 drubbing in Glasgow. As a result Canada will be aiming for a bonus-point win as a minimum, and will probably be hoping for perhaps five or six tries.

There is every chance that they could succeed with both aims. Apart from their win over France at the start of the year, Scotland have been poor for several years. It is unlikely that they will have achieved the rapid turn-round needed over the summer.

Game two - Australia v Wales (Poo1 1) (Live on Sky Sports 2- kicks off at 2.00. After the predictable opening game, this should be a real humdinger of a game. So unpredictable that it is not only the game on the day, it is arguably the most exciting game of the pool stages. Unfortunately neither side stands much chance of progressing from this "Group of Death" - and the loser may well finish bottom - but that is all in the future. All that can be said is that, if you can watch only one game on Friday, make it this one.

Pool 2 opens at 2.15 with USA v Kazakhstan. In the past this might have been a close game, but the Kazakh's isolation since being moved by the IRB from Europe to Asia has resulted in the game stagnating. Comfortably the most powerful side in their new region, but also lacking the money to tour outside it, Kazakhstan have not really developed at all for the past 10 years or more, and even the squad is aging. The USA - on the other hand - have spent the last four years rebuilding a young, exciting squad and will face few problems in this game. Another bonus point win here.

4.15 sees the first appearance of big guns. But New Zealand v South Africa (Pool 1) (Live on Sky Sports 2) will not be the cake-walk that it first appeared when the draw was announced. South Africa are the sensation of world rugby. Comfortable wins over Scotland and Kazakhstan, a draw with France, and only narrow defeats to England, USA and Canada - all on the road - have shown that they have the potential to be a real surprise package. Their only real problem is being drawn in this particular pool. However, they must fancy the runner-up position and if they can get through this game with as little damage as possible they could well achieve it. New Zealand will win - clearly - but it is quite possible that they may miss the bonus point.

France v Sweden completes Pool 3's opening games at 4.30, and France will be going all-out for the big win (for the reasons discussed above). Much as we may all have a soft spot for the plucky Swedes, the French should succeed against the competition's real outsiders (and shock qualifiers), whose main aim will not realistically go beyond avoiding 12th place in the tournament. A big bonus win for France, then.

Finally at 6.30 its England v Ireland (Pool 2) (Live on Sky Sports 2). The Irish really believe they could pull off a shock, and - of all teams in this pool - they might have done. However, the effect of a last minute change of coach cannot be underestimated. They needed a perfect build-up and this was not it. Changing a coach is a massive disadvantage to a team that often takes a year or more to work through - as both Canada and Wales have shown in recent years - not a few weeks. As a result England should win, but not by much. Ireland are a proud and hugely talented side and could well sneak a losing bonus point in a game that will not be high scoring. Expect the boot to be a major factor in this match.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Total Pageviews (since June 2009)

Sport Blogs - Blog Catalog Blog Directory