If a heavy defeat at Twickenham last week had totally derailed Ireland’s Rugby World Cup bid, according to some people, what does victory in Cardiff mean?
Frankly I think it means that these World Cup games are relatively meaningless in terms of predicting what will happen in the tournament. Take England for instance – meek and mild in defeat to Wales one week, big, mean, powerful and title favourites against Ireland the next. It’s not quite that simple.
That said, Ireland’s win will likely restore the confidence that might have been lost in London, and their campaign will still probably hinge on a quarter-final meeting with South Africa.
Wales’ squad was confirmed yesterday, with Rob Evans, Samson Lee and Scott Williams surprise omissions, whilst fly-half Jarrod Evans clearly didn’t do enough against Ireland to usurp Rhys Patchell in the pecking order.
Looking at the 31, the starting lineup picks itself and will be a match for most sides, but they don’t have the same sort of depth as other squads and any injury could be costly.
France thrash Italy in another World Cup warning
England’s World Cup group rivals thrashed Italy 47-19, in another sign that they might be getting their act together ahead of the World Cup. Mathieu Bastereaud’s exclusion signalled a shift away from the powerful, direct gameplan, and whilst they still have a huge pack, the backline is full of skilled ball-players that will do some damage.
France will be dangerous in England’s final group game on the 12th October.
Scotland win first Tier 1 match in Georgia
The Scots’ confidence will be rising a little having beaten France and now having won comfortably in Tbilisi this weekend. The core of the team features some high-quality players such as Hamish Watson, Finn Russell and Stuart Hogg, and I think their World Cup could depend on the outcome of the New Zealand v South Africa match on the opening win.
The Springboks will fancy their chances against the All Blacks and would rather play Scotland than Ireland in the quarters, but Gregor Townsend’s men would much rather face South Africa with the belief that they might cause an upset. Against the All Blacks they wouldn’t have that belief, and hope will only get them so far.
How do you think each side is shaping up now that we’re into September? The Rugby World Cup starts this month!