Sunday, 30 September 2007
So the pool stages are finished and the the two stand out quarter finals are England v Australia and New Zealand v France. Fiji have done well but the loss of their fly half will hamper there ability to beat South Africa and Italy v Argentina will be a big forward battle but may lack the subtley of the other games. I would like to play tribute to the minnows of the tournament who have played their part in making this a great tournament (USA, Samoa, Tonga, Romania, Italy, Portugal, Japan, Canada, Georgia, Namibia and of course Wales and Ireland). There is talk of reducing the number of teams to 16 but I think this is a mistake as the only way to improve the level of play is to play against the best teams and to spark interest in the home country (Georgia has gone rugby crazy apparently). Some of the larger beatings occurred when asking the smaller teams to play two matches in four or five days and they don't have the squad depth. It would be fairer to ask the bigger teams to have more games more often but then they would not be playing on the weekends when the larger crowds and tele audiences can watch and satisfy the audience. An example of this is Japan who had to play the 8th, 16th, 20th and 25th (4 games in 17 days) whereas France played on the 7th, 16th, 21st and 30th (4 games in 23 days).