Saturday, September 08, 2007

Who'll win the Cup?

Iain Dale won't be watching the Rugby World Cup - his light-hearted explanation of why brightened up my Saturday morning and is well worth a read - but as a huge fan of the oval ball game I certainly will be tuning in and even writing the occasional blog post on the tournament as it unfolds over the next few weeks.

So what of England's chances? Well, to my mind we've wasted the last four years since winning the 2003 tournament and frankly don't deserve to retain the Webb Ellis trophy. Talented young players capable of making things happen on a rugby field like Ollie Smith, Shane Geraghty and Tom Palmer have ended up on the international scrapheap while limited players like Jamie Noon and Joe Worsley prosper. It's back to pragmatic old England, 1991-style, and not even the introduction of an old rugby romantic like Brian Ashton as coach has changed that.

Of the other home nations, Ireland have gone off the boil of late but with Brian O'Driscoll in the side are capable of anything on their day, the Welsh backs look great on paper but their forwards simply don't cut the mustard, while Scotland are said to be in great physical shape - which they will need to be if they are to get out of a tough qualifying pool which also includes New Zealand.

If they play to their ability, New Zealand ought to win this World Cup comfortably. Against the British and Irish Lions two years ago they were awesome, although it has to be said that Clive Woodward's Lions were very poor. As a huge admirer of New Zealand rugby, and of the Land of the Long White Cloud itself, I wouldn't be displeased with such an outcome.

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Anonymous said...

New Zealand are head and shoulders above everyone else in the world, although South Africa did beat them recently. I think a New Zealand-South Africa final would give everyone a good spectacle.

James Higham said...

Well done, Paul. This goes straight in the focus. Please keep posting on it. As for England - well yes but then again they do have the ability to turn it round in the critical rounds. Or did have.

MorrisOx said...

Gone a bit quiet round here, Paul - is this an enforced absence?

Anonymous said...

Just place a "lay" for £20, against New Zealand on betfair, well they were offering a 'free' £20 bet if I placed a bet in the next 48 hours.

Just have a feeling New Zealand will 'bottle it' again. I expected the French to be the main threat: but they are in trouble after the match against the argies, which they deserved to lose.

I bet against the Brazilians in the last footie world cup, but lost my winning betting on 'Le Bleu' in the final: got my stake back, though

Anonymous said...

Dear Paul

Does anyone remember who won the England Cricket series against Australia

Does anyone still living care

Anonymous said...

see your old mate from the lobby Brendan Carlin is off to join Shifty Walters at the Mail on Sunday!

Paul Linford said...

Didn't think Brendan would fancy the prospect of working for Andy Porter, somehow.