Monday 2 November 2015

#RWC2015 The best Rugby World Cup ever

What a great final to end a brilliant Rugby World Cup. This has easily been the best tournament we've seen since the World Cup was first held in 1987.

The games have been played in packed stadiums and if the decision to play matches away from rugby's provincial heartlands was doubted the record number of people who attended games vindicated that decision.

Yes England going out in the pool stages was disappointing but in the end I don't think it diminished the tournament as we had so many memorable games and performances to remember.

It was also a great final with Australia and New Zealand being the two best teams in the tournament. New Zealand have now made history by being the first team to win back-to-back World Cups and win the title for a third time. All the years of heartache between 1987 and 2011 when they couldn't win a World title seem like a long time ago.

The pursuit of excellence

The All Blacks really are something special. If I was a New Zealander I'd be so proud of the team and what they represent for the nation. In my lifetime The All Blacks have always been the team to beat but it's their relentless consistency and drive to always be the best that I find so inspiring.

Many are saying this is the greatest rugby team ever. I couldn't really answer that. My knowledge and history of the game isn't strong enough to make that claim but what I've noticed from everything that I've read and heard is that the All Blacks are simply better at the basics and fundamentals of the game.

Game of the tournament

Like most people I'd have to say that Japan beating South Africa was the best game of the tournament purely for sporting drama. Not only was it the biggest shock in the history of test rugby it has to be one of the great sporting upsets ever!

I was jumping up and down when Japan ran in their winning try. It's moments like that, that make you realise why you love sport so much.

Closely following behind that game was Argentina's quarter final victory over Ireland. Argentina have been my favourite team to watch in this World Cup. Their performance in the first 20 minutes against the Irish was blistering.

The way Argentina's game has evolved just shows you how much they've benefited from playing in the Rugby Championship against Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. They now seem a few steps ahead of the Northern Hemisphere teams.

Biggest disappointment

Has to be England's performance. When you think about the amount of money that the RFU has and the amount of registered players playing in England a place in the semis would have been a minimum requirement. The England team really did underachieve and going out so early really was a wasted opportunity.

It makes you think that the last 4 years has been a waste of time. Compared to other countries it still doesn't feel that there is a core group of England international players who you know and have that collective international experience that's needed at this level of competition.

You can argue that England were drawn in a tough pool but even if they had got out of the group, could you see this England team getting passed the Quarter Finals? When you look at the four Southern Hemisphere teams that made it to the semis there's no way that England could have competed.

Listening to many of the pundits, they spoke a lot about the lack of leaders in the England team and the inability to manage games (I'm thinking against Wales). These comments reminded me of the things we hear about England's football team.

It got me thinking that perhaps our rugby team is suffering from some of the same problems as our footballers. Despite all the money that England has in its professional rugby and football teams and the superior resources we have compared to other nations we still don't appear to be developing the right type of players for elite international competition.

A lot to learn for the Northern Hemisphere teams

Not a single team from the Northern Hemisphere made it to the semi finals. Wales could perhaps count themselves a little unlucky with the number of injuries they had but for everyone else the tournament was a disappointment.

Ireland again underachieved and I really don't know where French rugby is going at the moment. What was clear in this World Cup is that the skill levels found in the Southern Hemisphere teams are just superior to anything in the North. Northern Hemisphere teams have the power particularly in the contact but don't have the subtleties to go with it.

The best attributes of all the four Southern Hemisphere teams all seemed to be on a higher level to anything found from the 6 Nations teams.

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