Welcome to the second line of updates from the Rugby World Cup 2015 in England, which is drawing towards the end of the pool stage. Here are a few of the things we’ve taken away since last time – plus you’ll once again find our handy checklist of great places to watch all the ongoing action in Singapore.
BLOODIED WATERS IN THE POOL OF DEATH
There was plenty of talk around the time of EX’s first RWC update about bonus points potentially making all the difference in Pool A, the “Pool of Death”. In the end, though, they didn’t matter one iota. England’s double-disaster – a loss to Wales (which could have been a draw if not for a rush of blood with just minutes remaining) and then a crushing defeat at the hands of a resurgent Wallabies meant that, for the first time ever, a RWC host would be bowing out of the competition before the quarter-final stage.
As exciting as all of that may have been, we do have to question the logic of having three teams in the world’s best six playing off against each other in a single pool – not to mention a fairly formidable “minnow” in Fiji. How did it happen? Well, the draw for the Cup was carried out all the way back in 2012, when the Welsh team couldn’t win a game and were subsequently ranked outside the top 10. Things have changed substantially since then. Note to World Rugby head honchos: it might be an idea to hold the draw a little closer to the tournament next time…
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
This has to go to referee Nigel Owens who gave Scottish fullback Stuart Hogg a dressing-down after the latter had indulged in a “dive” worthy of a different code of football. Said the Welsh ref to Hogg: “There was nothing wrong with [the tackle]. If you want to dive like that again, you can come back here in two weeks and play, not today.”
MINNOWS ON THE RISE
EX has dug up an interesting stat. In the last Rugby World Cup in 2011 in New Zealand, the pool stage witnessed a total of eight games in which the winning side scored more than 60 points. So far in this RWC, as we approach the end of the same stage, we’ve had only one similar margin of victory: Australia’s 65-3 shellacking of Uruguay. Clearly the “Tier Two” sides of world rugby are getting stronger. It’s good to see. (Singapore, for the record, is currently classed as a “Tier Three, Development Two” side.)
CAN OZ GO ALL THE WAY?
A Wallabies fan is penning this update and to avoid being blamed for putting the kiss of death on his team, he’s assuring us that there is no chance whatsoever that they can win the World Cup.
On the other hand, anyone who witnessed Bernard Foley’s sublime performance (Quade who?) and the dominance of Pocock and Hooper at the breakdown against the Poms could be excused for thinking that the Wallabies look capable of figuring in the final showdown for the silverwear at Twickenham on Halloween.
STATS SO FAR
Attendance: Almost 1.4 million
Points scored: 1,404
Drop goals: 3
Red cards: 0
Yellow cards: 24
WHAT’S HAPPENING IN THE CUP TODAY?
While Tuesday’s fixtures aren’t exactly blockbusters, it’ll be nice to see either Romania or Canada get a win from their encounter; for Romania, victory would keep alive their hope of automatic qualification for the 2019 Cup (they would also need to beat Italy on the weekend), while a Canadian triumph would mean they’ve earned at least a draw in every World Cup they’ve played in. The other game today (Wednesday morning Singapore time) is Fiji vs Uruguay; EX reckons it would be fitting for the gallant Fijians to chalk up four points before flying home.
Okay, okay, we’ll admit we got this one fairly wrong in our last update. We thought Sam Burgess was a chance of having a telling impact for England in the games against Wales and the Wallabies. Frankly, though, he looked a little out of his depth.
So who are we turning our attention to instead? Well, at the sake of favouring former rugby league stars, we reckon Sonny Bill Williams is getting into a fairly ominous groove for the All Blacks.
Speaking of individual players, we’re not sure who decided that Wasps lock Joe Launchbury – as impressive as he was on a losing side – outplayed the 28-point-scoring Foley, or Pocock, or even one of the Aussie props for that matter, in the England vs Wallabies game, but this decision, frankly, was a nonsense.
TWO WEEKS IS A LONG TIME
There’s already been plenty of water under the bridge since Japan shocked the sporting world by beating South Africa on the opening weekend of the Cup. And it’s no huge surprise that a champion side like the Springboks has so quickly and quietly bounced back from adversity. (The “quietly” bit might have to do with the fact that the Boks are yet to play a game at a dedicated rugby field.) They are now on top of their pool, and starting to function like the well-oiled machine of old. We reckon they’ll be heading deep into the tournament, something that few might have predicted after their opening fixture.
MEME OF THE MOMENT
There were plenty of memes doing the rounds in the wake of the big Australia vs England clash, most of them to do with broken chariots. This was our pick:
WHERE TO WATCH THE GAMES IN SINGAPORE
Boomarang Bistro & Bar
60 Robertson Quay, #01-15 The Quayside | 6738 1077
For a weekly update of all the RWC action and other sports coverage at this ever-popular Aussie-flavoured bar and resto right on the river at Robbo Quay, sign up for regular email updates of the Boomarang Sports Bible.
Fern & Kiwi
3C River Valley Road, #01-02/03 The Cannery Clarke Quay | 6336 2271
If all the sporting action on the screens of this All Black-barracking bar is giving you a hunger, you’ll be happy to know that rugby even figures in the food choices here, with the bar’s renowned Haka Burger proclaimed as “the biggest, baddest burger in town”.
3E River Valley Road, #01-07 Clarke Quay | 6339 5707
If the Romania vs Canada game isn’t proving as exciting as you thought it was going to be, you can always have a crack at the G-MAX Reverse Bungy, just a stone’s throw away from the booze-fuelled Bungy Bar at Clarke Quay.
28 Boat Quay and other outlets | 6538 3029
Sport figures heavily at every Harry’s Bar across the island, and the Rugby World Cup is no exception. Be sure to check the website to see which of the outlets are showing particular games – it varies from venue to venue.
111 Somerset Road, #01-02 TripleOne Somerset, Singapore, 238164 | 6735 0400
There are screens galore at Muddy Murphy’s, so you can “multi-task” with your sport watching. Don’t miss the RWC lucky draw, with official World Cup rugby balls and other prizes to be won, just by spending $50 at the pub. See their Facebook page for details.