Rugby world cup
By the time you read this, the 20 teams in New Zealand will have been reduced to eight, and the contest gets serious. It has been a great spectacle, and testimony to rugby’s growing global appeal. Japan, Georgia, Namibia and the United States have all excelled. Canada beat Tonga, normally a class above them. Russia enjoyed a first set of finals and, with little chance of making the ¼ finals, played for pride and for the future. The Bears’ real cup final was their first match, against a strong USA side. They were close, but lacked the precision to contain the Americans, who themselves offered too many chances. Russia did score first and last. Good effort.
At the risk of sounding “hemispherist”, it is a brave man who bets on a European side to topple the Tri-Nations favourites. Stay tuned for the quarter finals on 8-9 October, the semis on 15-16, and the final on Sunday 23 October. Expect a lot of black shirts in the pubs.