Rugby World Cup 1st weekend
While I, like most Americans, am excited about the NFL season (especially with the hometown Houston Texans looking like a team to cheer for for a change!), I am more enthralled with watching the 3rd most watched event in the world (after the Olympics and the Soccer World Cup) – the 2007 Rugby World Cup. I played Rugby for the Woodland RFC for several years (yes, back when I was young) and have occasionally played for the Texas XXX’s vintage rugby team. Rugby and basketball are by far the most enjoyable sports I have ever played.
Like the Soccer World Cup, the Rugby World Cup takes place every four years, and there are qualifying tournaments in the time in between.
Several things to watch for:
- Can any team derail the New Zealand All-Blacks?
- Will Jonny Wilkinson set the RWC all-time points record this year?
- Will the United States Eagles win a match?
- Will any dark horse emerge, or will the game continue to be dominated by the teams from New Zealand, Australia, England, South Africa and too some extent France?
With some odds makers, New Zealand has been installed as an overwhelming favorite. They backed up those predictions in their opening match this weekend, a brutal 76-14 shellacking of Italy, who was thought to be bringing a strong side this year. Trying to keep pace, Australia, second with most prognosticators bombed Japan 91-3, the sixth highest point total scored.
England flyhalf Jonny Wilkinson comes into this RWC ranked third in RWC history scoring, 45 points behind Gavin Hastings of Scotland. Wilkinson led England to the championship four years ago, ut he missed the first match against the USA Eagles with an ankle tendon injury. According to Wilkinson’s blog site, he is aiming to play in the next match against South Africa September 14.
The USA Eagles, led by Mike Hercus, are in one of the toughest pools for the tourney, with England, South Africa, Tonga and Samoa. In spite of losing their warm up match to Munster, the Eagles made a good showing against the Wilkinson-less England club, losing 28-10. Hercus and the massive Matekitonga Moeakiola scored five points, Moeakiola on a try carrying three Brits with him! The Eagles, ranked 15 in the IRB standings, next play Tonga (ranked 14th) on the 12th of September.
The Rugby World Cup can be seen on Setanta Sports and Versus.