RUGBY WORLD CUP REFLECTIONS
Much of the sheen was rubbed off The Show this past weekend when Scotland was denied a heroic victory of epic proportions over the Wallabies. The issue of officiating, once again reared its ugly head but more of that later.
Japan was the real highlight reel for me, in all three of their wins, most memorable being the Springbok upset – one for the ages and the Scotland /Samoa game was as good as there was in terms of “pure rugby”. Having said this, there were many games and moments that had sheer magic attached – this heroic Scottish effort against the Wallabies, the Australian defensive stand against the Welsh, Wales’ win over England and on and on. The absolute quality of the All Black team cannot be refuted and the enjoyment they provide for the spectator is a credit to them.
Canada and U.S. performances were disappointing. These countries still lack big time experience and suffer major depth issues. U.S. may be able to overcome as like Japan, they are getting an infrastructure on the go. Canada has had this for some time but it has not really born fruit as the lack of competition opportunities are sadly missing, not to mention the size of our country and different playing seasons….IRB really only giving lip service to the Americas as yet, compared to Japan (not to mention their “professional league” sponsorship from Corporate bodies and good salaries). Canada has maybe 6-8 at the outside, players who could be considered legit at this level. I still wonder after all of the massive amounts of dough that is made, if it is not just part of the sideshow to have the Minnows involved – it is all rather ‘cute’ that The Americas, Namibia (Georgia did give it a good go and there were isolated moments from all Minnows) etc., it is great to have a milieu of people in attendance from all around the world BUT…. and it would be almost unfair to deny players their moment in the sun at The Show after rightfully earning their way via elimination. At the end of the day, given eight RWC’s, there have only been four different countries win and it will not change significantly. Have The Minnows improved? Well, despite much credit by many to this effect and there were no 100 point blowouts but a 42.5 average differential over 16 matches is not exactly a spectacle.
Then there was the issue of officiating the transgressions, be it via referee, AR, TMO or Citing Commissioner, neither of the latter two making the sport look too creditable in the eyes of a partisan or neophyte. It all culminated with a travesty for the Scots, ending their campaign against Australia with a referee’s error. The point of law that the player was offside was without question however an Australian knock-on was clearly missed with no objective TMO review, an issue that will be debated for the next four years at least! The process needs to be gutted, omitted altogether or reviewed thoroughly and a new process developed which includes both the perception and reality of consistency. The arguments will be long and loud and interesting. For me overall, the refereeing in pool play was technically correct and consistent to the nth degree, perhaps a couple of advantages called early (but I still maintain that on 50/50 calls if there is any such thing for the M-i-M, the rub will always go to the higher seeded team!) So, for the William Webb Ellis RWC to continue to thrive much needs to be done about the officiating and furtherance of the efforts towards player safety.
To finish this diatribe for the day…how about a Tier II RWC with promotion/relegation for top two teams? Double the money, double the fun or better yet, a competition similar to the three tier level of the RWC Sevens Tournaments? Long live rugby!
Remember, today is the day we have the right to express our freedom, a right granted to us by the many lives that were lost in wars, honour their sacrifice by getting out to vote!