After years of planning and 4 years of waiting since the last final, the Rugby World Cup is almost upon us. Twenty teams will battle it out to lift the Webb Ellis Trophy at Twickenham on the 31st October. With realistically 7 in with a chance of winning. (New Zealand, England, Australia, Ireland, Wales, France & South Africa)
Due to the vagaries of the rankings system and the fact that the groups were drawn 2+ years ago England, Wales & Australia have been drawn together (along with Fiji who are also ranked in the top 10 in the world- with only Uruguay deemed to be an easier match) in Pool A – only 2 will go though to the quarter finals so one of my “7” will not get out of the group.
I will of course be fully behind Ireland’s bid to actually perform in a World Cup – they have never made it past the quarter finals. A relatively easy start against Canada then Romania & Italy will hopefully leave the final game against France to decide the group winners. Winning this group should mean avoiding New Zealand until the Final.
Ireland have never beaten New Zealand so the final would be the time to do it.
Of course that means getting past France – who are not in great form have had lots of disruption in the build up to the tournament – and played poorly in the last couple of seasons – so probably will perform magnificently and make it all the way to the final.
I have been fortunate enough to get some match tickets via my rugby club (Chipstead RFC) and will be going along to Ireland V Romania, Ireland V Italy and New Zealand V Namibia. As ever I fully expect the British public to embrace these major sporting events as they have in the past (Olympics Tour de France etc etc)
With my rugby coaches hat on I also fully expect that there will be an increase in the numbers of kids who want to take up rugby – especially if England do well. Rugby clubs across the country have been gearing themselves up to meet the increased demands that are expected. More Coaches More pitch space and most importantly more of those lovely volunteers who make the Teas Coffees and Bacon rolls.
So I will be very happy for England to Win their group Win the Quarter final and then go out to a wonderful Irish display in the semi final who go on to finally beat New Zealand in the final – ( at which point I will probably wake up and realise that I have been dreaming again)
Its 6 Nations time again – in my opinion the best annual Rugby tournament in the world.
England Ireland Scotland Wales France & Italy battling it our to be crowned Northern Hemisphere champions – desperate to avoid the Wooden Spoon and in this years tournament especially setting down a marker prior to the Autumn World Cup.
The 6 Nations (or 5 Nations or even 4 nations) started in 1883 with Ireland England Scotland & Wales (England won the first tournament) France joined up officially in 1910 with Italy the 6th part of the jigsaw joining in 2000.
Sell out crowds – great anthems – never being sure just who will win – makes this one of the best sporting spectacles of the year. (Especially when the boys in green win)
This years feast of Rugby started last Friday night in Cardiff – Wales V England the Millennium Stadium full to capacity – Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau belted out by 70000 Welsh Choristers
Great start by Wales – great fightback by England to take the victory – although the main talking point after the game was not so much the Rugby but rather what happened to Wales winger George North
George took a heavy hit to the head twice in the game – appeared to be knocked out but still carried on and played the entire game – He had a concussion assessment after the first knock but the Wales coaches and medical staff didn’t appear to see the second incident despite it being very obvious to all watching at home.
Concussion is very much the buzzword in contact sport at the minute and management protocols have been implemented in these sports.
The protocols do not seem to have been followed on Friday night – George North should not have been allowed to play on – luckily he does not appear to have suffered any further damage – but it can take several weeks for the symptoms of concussion to manifest.
As someone who coaches junior rugby (14 year olds at the minute) If any of my boys get a knock on the head they immediately get taken off the pitch and I will not let them play again that day – and if there are any signs of concussion then its a minimum of 23 days before they can return to play. Did the fact that George North is one of the best wingers in the world influence matters – or was it just missed on the night.
(Photo By Jacqui Lott)
I have had several kids over the last few months present during an eye examination with focusing issues double vision and headaches and often it can be traced back to a knock to the head during a game of rugby.
What anyone involved in any contact sport must remember is that the most important thing is the safety of the players – that has to take priority no matter what effect it may have on the result of the game.
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