By Lucky Maree
Rugby World Cup matches completed this weekend have produced some interesting results but unfortunately, some matches highlight a serious problem that international rugby can’t ignore forever.
It was heartbreaking to see Namibia crumble to defeat against Uruguay! Knowing that they had no chance of getting into the quarter finals, they planned their World Cup strategy on winning just this one match. It was not to be. Uruguay, to be honest, deserved to win.
Japan beat Samoa in a nail-biter as both teams scored two tries but Japan’s Rikiya Matsuda gave them a six point advantage as the Brave Blossoms resisted a late Samoan charge.
As expected, the match between Fiji and Georgia was a brutal affair, with Fiji scoring a close, (probably lucky) win.
The other three matches produced results that bordered on farce.
New Zealand were breathtakingly effective in scoring 14 tries against Italy. Nobody gave Italy any chance of a win, but the All Blacks looked to have fully recovered their best form.
Italy competes reasonably effectively in the Six Nations tournament and can’t be seen as a second-tier team, but they were certainly made to look severely average when New Zealand scored a try every six minutes.
Interestingly, New Zealand, in spite of the dreadful mismatch, still conceded two tries. They can’t be happy about that. What they will be happy about is Richie Mo’unga’s kicking. He converted nine of the ten tries, many of them from tough positions.
Scotland racked up 12 converted tries against Romania, three of them in the last ten minutes when the brave Romanians were out on their feet. Does this mean Scotland can beat Ireland in their all-important match next weekend? Probably not, but they have certainly kept their chances alive.
This weekend’s matches so far have highlighted a core problem.
Everybody knows that, while there are 20 teams in the World Cup, only South Africa, New Zealand, Ireland and France can realistically expect to win. What is more, the gap is getting bigger, not smaller. This can’t be good for the sport.
With rugby treading water in most places around the world, World Rugby will have to address this situation. However, having proved they can’t solve simple problems, it is unlikely that they will be able to do something about this massive problem.
What the answer is, nobody knows, but it is not a problem that can be ignored forever. It’s not going to go away by itself.
Uruguay (5 tries) 36-26 (2 tries) Namibia
Japan (3 tries) 28-22 (3 tries) Samoa
New Zealand (14 tries) 96-17 (2 tries) Italy
Argentina (8 tries) 59-5 (1 try) Chile
Fiji (2 tries) 17-12 (2 tries) Georgia
Scotland (12 tries) 84-0 (0 tries) Romania
Pictured above: Desperate Romanian hands reach out to prevent yet another Scotland try
Image source: Twitter