World Rugby have struck gold by staging the 2019 RWC in the world’s most populated region, where rugby is growing rapidly. We’re only two weeks in and already it’s a world-class event.
The beautiful stadiums and outstanding Japanese buy-in have contributed to the success – and now their National side has beaten the No.2 ranked side, Ireland. Japan now look like favourites to win their pool.
Jamie Joseph and Tony Brown are astute. Their team played to win in attack and defence. They attacked the line-outs and won possession, matched the Irish at scrum and defended with passion and commitment. They clearly had a plan of how to use the ball – instead of adopting the one-off runner concept which seems to please the unimaginative, they used a second line of attack aiming for the wider channels. By doing so they sped up the game and thoroughly deserved this victory.
Japan has done something none of the other emerging rugby countries have managed. They have a world class club competition and a national structure powerful enough to draw some of the biggest names in the game.
Uruguay are well coached – an example of a good team beating a team of good players. They compete by focusing on defence, shutting down some of the best rugby athletes in the world.
Every 4 years the Rugby World Cup gives us a snapshot of the depth of the game in the competing countries. England dominated the US Eagles in all areas of the game and Italy hammered Canada. It is clear that despite the talk, North America has been found wanting. They have launched Major League Rugby in the US – a semi-pro competition – and this could be the light at the end of the tunnel. Only time will tell. Russia and Namibia are simply off the pace.
Failing the unexpected, and something will emerge, I’m picking the All Blacks will play Ireland in the quarter finals, England in the semi finals and South Africa in the final.