rugby world cup 2023 – round two
by allyn freeman
“With Round 2 drawn to a close, we get a moment to reminisce on the ups and downs that rugby and sport in general provides,” comments Free Jacks Manager, Tom Kindley, in reviewing round 2 of the Rugby World Cup.
“Our star Namibian mid-fielder Le Roux Malan suffered a significant lower limb injury during their round 2 clash against the All Blacks. A massive thank you to our terrific Free Jacks family for your messages of support. We were glad to hear his surgery went well and he is in good spirits.”
“Fiji had a huge win in Pool C, upsetting a youthful Australian team. This means Pool C is likely to become a nail biter, with Australia, Wales and Fiji all vying for the 2 quarterfinal berths. South Africa continued to show they mean business, dispatching Romania with ease, as did Ireland, pulling away to a 59-16 victory over Tonga. Congratulations to our own Semisi Paea who made his RWC debut! Smaller unions like Chile, Portugal and Uruguay had good showings keeping the scoreline tighter than than some pundits would have expected, a good look for Tier 2 rugby.”
Read more about round 2 in the summary below!
World Rugby generates some 90% of its annual operating budget from revenues acquired from the previous Rugby World. Cup, especially, world-wide television fees. In the past decade, a prime target has been improving the play of second-tier nations in hopes of narrowing the gap between these countries and the historical top ten (i.e.; England, France, Scotland, Ireland, South Africa, Wales, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, and Argentina.)
The international rugby media consensus before the start of the on-going RWC in France was that the 2023 tournament could witness significant second-tier results. To date, this conjecture has not proved true with the top ranked teams defeating their lower placed opponents. It’s a reminder of the continued historical dominance of the leading nations and their many
decades of superior performance.
The Australian Decline
Rugby union in Australis has been in downward spiral for many years, with fewer people manifesting interest in the sport. Traditionally, an urban east coast favorite among the more educated populace, it attracts fewer fans annually. A national poll some years ago saw rugby tied with “Ballroom dancing” in the 25th spot of “interest.” Rugby trails Australian Football (“Footy”), Cricket, and Soccer football in attendance.
Additionally, its rivalry with New Zealand has proved a national embarrassment,
The fifteens have played 177 times, with the All Blacks ahead in the series 124 to 45 with 8 draws. Most seasons, the Kiwis win the annual Southern Championship’s two contests. The All Blacks also dominate the Bledsoe Cup played since 1931, having achieved a 51 to 12 record, and a current skein of21 consecutive victories.
- Four for a win. Two for a draw.
- Bonus: One for losing by less than seven points. One for scoring four or more tries,
RWC Round Two Recap
Fiji 22 – Australia 15 – The Match of Round Two. At St. Etienne, Fiji defeated Australia for the first time in 69-years. Not since 1954, had an Islander side beaten the Wallabies. The Aussie Fifteen is its youngest RWC squad in twenty-years. This was a must win for Fiji if it hoped to make the RWC quarter finals, which it had not accomplished in 16-years. The Islanders eschewed their historic flashy offense for concentration on possession and ball control. Fii put up a brick wall of defense. One converted try and five penalties spelled the difference. (In some polls, Fiji ranked ahead of Australia.)
South Africa 76 – Romania 0 – The highest winning margin in RWC history. The fastest bonus points awarded in RWC history. A double hat trick of tries from Mapimi and Cobus.
Samoa 43 – Chile 10 – At the Stade de Bordeaux. Samoa (ranked 11th) proved efficient defeating 22nd placed Chile. At one point, Samoa lead 12-10, but then the floodgates opened and the Islanders forged six tries.
England 34 – Japan 12 – This is the weakest of the four Pools, a boon for England, which has an easy path into the quarterfinals. The Red Roses led 13 to 9 at the half. In the second period, England tallied three tries without ceding a point to the Brave Blossoms, who are not the caliber of team that upset South Africa two RWCs ago. George Ford did not attempt a drop goal as England was able to exploit gaps in Japan’s defense for tries.
France 27 – Uruguay 12 – Oddsmakers offered 200 to 1 for a Uruguay win, giving slight chance to the 17th ranked side defeating the third ranked fifteen. But two events occurred, Uruguay played superbly, trailing 13-12 after 53-minutes. France was flat, competing below its high reputation. Uruguay lost three of eight scrums, a factor in its loss. The partisan French crowd applauded the plucky South American underdogs at the final whistle. No Bonus Points this match for Les Bleus.
Wales 28 – Portugal 8 – The shock on viewing the opening kickoff was seeing Wales not in its traditional red jersey but instead, dressed in black with dayglo yellow striping. The eighth ranked fifteen played well enough to defeat the 16th placed side, nicknamed the Wolves (“Os Lobos”). Wales tallied four converted tries, securing a Bonus Point. Portugal attempted the only drop goal of Round Two, which sailed wide of the posts.
Ireland 59 – Tonga 16 – A matchup between the top-rated side and number 15. A try scoring carnival for the Irish who scored seven tries (all converted) in routing the overmatched Islanders. This Irish fifteen displayed no weakness in attack or defense. World Class player, Johnny Sexton, has proved an excellent kicker.
New Zealand 71 – Namibia 3 – No contest. A Bonus Point for the All Blacks.
Round Three Schedule
Wednesday, September 20 – Italy vs. Uruguay
Thursday, September 21 – France vs. Namibia
Friday, September 22 – Argentina vs. Samoa
Saturday, September 23 – Georgia vs. Portugal, England vs. Chile, South Africa vs. Ireland
Sunday, September 24 – Scotland vs. Tonga, Australia vs. Wales
The high summer heat created significant thirst in Round One’s match between Scotland and South Africa, The crowd consumed 90,000 beers, breaking the French rugby record of 50,000. Also a record, 15.4 million French people watched the France/New Zealand match, or one if every five people in the country.