One word to sum up the weekend: heartbreaking
I do admit to shouting at the TV more than a couple times and being a couch critic but I really wanted Ireland to win, not just because it was Jonny Sexton’s and Keith Earl’s last world cup, but because I genuinely thought they would go all the way and bring home the Webb Ellis Cup. I, also, thought France would have made it to the finals as they had the home crowd supporting them, absolutely gutted for Antoine Dupont as he had only played 3 matches. Seeing all the Irish and French rugby players broke me as you could see how much it meant for them to try and get to the semis, after two very close matches. I honestly thought that the Irish would score a try after a record 37 phases until All Blacks’ lock Sam Whitelock won the penalty or that Les Bleus would advance into the semis after their excellent display of pace, physicality and skill. I can’t imagine what it feels like to be James Lowe and Bundee Aki, having to lose to your home nation. Let’s hope these two teams bounce back for the 11th RWC of 2027, hosted by Australia.
Looking forward to the semis this weekend, I think that the two obvious teams reaching the finals are New Zealand and South Africa, unless Argentina and England pull an uno reverse card…
England vs South Africa (20th October, 21:00 – Stade de France):
Thank the Lord that Freddie Steward as been named in the English teamsheet, I really did not like Marcus Smith playing as full-back. His style of play, his ego, his hair and goatee, his everything just angers me. The Red Roses are looking pretty solid as you have Elliot Daly and Jonny May on the wing, and Joe Marler and Dan Cole as the loose/tight-head prop duo. However, the Boks have put out a cracking teamsheet with Cheslin Kolbe as left winger and Eben Etzebeth as second row with Faf de Klerk starting off and then joining in later on with the bomb squad. It’s basically a repeat of the 2019 finals but will it end in the same way? I think we all know that England will get elimanted but we also know that they will put their heart and soul into this match. My prediction is that South Africa will win 34-15 but will definately be given a few cards along the way if they play like last week. It’s going to be brutal and a bloodbath but the level of pace and skill will be out of the roof.
Argentina vs New Zealand (21st October, 21:00 – Stade de France):
Again, I think we know who’s going to win this match: New Zealand. Argentina have played well the entire tournament and it will be sad to see them go but it is what it is. The All Blacks are going to dominate the match and will proceed to the finals without a doubt. The Kiwi’s teamsheet is looking good with all three Barrett brothers starting. Howevever, I would have put Damian McKenzie starting but hopefully he will make an appearance later on in the match (nobody cannot dislike his smile before he kicks for conversion). Los Pumas are looking pretty strong,too, but they cannot match the power of New Zealand so they are going to struggle with this one. Argentina will be a tough opponent but I think that the All Blacks will win 37-21 after a long match of physicality.
Hopefully, I can watch these matches on the Hockey Tour but if not, I will definitely catchup when I get home. These matches are less exciting than the quarters as we can predict who’s getting sent home but still worthwile watching to see who will get to the finals.