It is seven weeks since I wrote about the Rugby World Cup 2015 that was then about to start, and now it is all over, and justice has been done. Today, the two best sides (Australia and New Zealand) contested an entertaining final, with New Zealand deservedly winning and retaining the trophy they won four years ago. As for the tournament itself, the general consensus (and I agree) is that it has been a resounding success (from match attendances, television audiences and revenue received alone) as well as the high standard of rugby played, even by the lesser teams. While there remains a gap still between the top ranked and lower tier nations, even the supposedly weaker sides played some very good and entertaining rugby, justifying their inclusion in the competition. The tournament was a good advert for the game of rugby. The game of the tournament saw Japan, pulling off an unlikely superb win against South Africa, and this bodes well for the future. I look forward to the next tournament to be contested in four years time, in Japan.
I have posted three times on the tournament (here, here and here) and this is my final post. The last post was just after the quarter finals. Again the four most worthy sides made it though to the semi finals: South Africa who was to play New Zealand; Australia who was to play Argentina. While Argentina is not seen as a fancied side, they played some good rugby, making many fans by their direct and entertaining brand of rugby, and while Australia were fancied, they were a little lucky to make it to the semis, having almost been beaten by unfancied Scotland. All of the semi finalists were Southern Hemisphere sides, suggesting there is a gap in standards between the two hemispheres. France and England had surprisingly under performed, suggesting despite having talented players and a well developed rugby infra-structure, the important chemistry that great sides possess was not there and anecdotal evidence suggested in both cases there was trouble in their camps. Some things their Southern Hemisphere counterparts had e.g. putting country before club and togetherness was missing, and so they floundered.
Regarding the semi finals: Australia was convincing winners against Argentina, who ran out of steam against a very good Australian side. Regarding the South Africa and New Zealand game, it looked at one time that South Africa would edge it, but New Zealand did what most great sides do and that was to step up a gear and finally prevail, although the rugby played was not pretty. The third and fourth place play-off saw South Africa overcoming Argentina, in the end by a comfortable margin. This brings us to today’s final. It was an entertaining game and a number of tries were scored. While Australia continued to impress by their resolution and skill, this was more than matched by that of New Zealand. When at one time the Australians narrowed the gap, by scoring two quick tries after a New Zealand player had been sin binned, New Zealand were unphased and soon restored superiority, and turned out to be comfortable winners. The game was a fitting end to a great tournament.
As a rugby fan keen to see the best teams coming together, playing their best rugby (even though sadly teams like my own (England) under performed), with some good refereeing, under conducive conditions, and with very best coming out on top, the tournament we have just witnessed has not disappointed. My rugby playing days are long over, but I appreciate having witnessed this agreeable spectacle over these past few weeks, even though only being able to take in snippets. I look forward to seeing the game continuing to develop in the rugby world, especially in the lesser nations.