Best of RWC - Episode 14
2011 – Upsets
Episode 14, back to where it all began.
Was this the best ever version of RWC? Call me biased but NZ’s hosting of the behemoth that this tournament had become was top notch. The country embraced it and the rugby world embraced New Zealand, as the host country spent six weeks wondering, hoping, praying … week by week … game by game … that we wouldn’t end up on this goddamned list again.
But before we can confirm or deny there was some pretty good footy. Let’s look at that shall we?
The tournament got off with a bang, more on that next time around, but we had to wait until a couple of the heavyweights met before we got an upset result which rather turned the tournament upside down (ish).
Ireland 15 v Australia 6 – Pool C
Auckland became Dublin for the night.
A match that was celebrated and appreciated pretty much everywhere but Australia.
The green army on the field was roared on by the green hoards in the stand as the Irish found a way to counter the feared Australian attack.
Defending like demons the Paddies gave nothing to the Aussies. Piling into tackles they adopted a technique of holding the opposition up and driving them backwards, forming mauls and winning turnovers.
Having watched and “experienced” the game in Australia the tryless game was treated disdainfully by the Australian sporting media (many don’t really “get” rugby on the left side of the ditch) and the result was a blow for the Australian sporting public. And probably hasn’t helped Australian Rugby’s push for more share of the sporting public’s interest.
A spectacle of running rugby it was not. But a spectacle of passion and commitment and just sheer bloodymindedness it was.
The biggest upset result of RWC VII threw the knock out draw into a spin, pitting the southern heavyweights Australia and South Africa against each other at the quarterfinal stage, and opening up the other side of the draw to the northern hemisphere.
Tonga 19 v France 14 – Pool A
The abiding image of this game, and one of the abiding images of this tournament, was the Tongan front row, most particularly Aleki Lutui and Sona Taumalo, laughing, whooping and taunting their French counterparts as the clock wound down, daring them to take another scrum.
The French had to score twice as Tonga had battled to a 19 - 9 lead. France however sensed an advantage at scrum time and turned down the penalties in front of the posts to have a crack at what was an inferior pack.
The Tongans were having none of it and like good fatties everywhere wanted to scrum. And use up time.
The Froggies fell into the machismo trap and wasted too much time releasing their backs who did manufacture an after the hooter consolation 5 pointer but it was too little, too late. They had run the clock down giving Tonga one of their greatest ever victories.
France had already qualified for post pool play which may have contributed to the result - strange mob those Frogs - but Tonga needed the win to push past Canada to the automatic qualifying spot for RWC 2015.
Argentina 13 v Scotland 12 – Pool B
Lucas González Amorosino.
It’s worth it just for his name.
His try to win it was pretty good too.
You could ask if Argentina beating Scotland that much of an upset?
Yeah … nah … maybe.
(last 15mins of the match)
Scotland has been a full member of the IRB (now World Rugby) since, well since there was an IRB. They’re expected to beat the newbies … and relatively speaking Argentina are newbies … and were expected to advance to the quarter finals again, having never not reached the final eight.
This was this year’s “Pool of Death” (dum-dum-dum DUM). England, Argentina and Scotland battling it out in Pool B.
England played enough rugby whilst on their dwarf throwing tour of the South Island to squeeze themselves through to the knockouts – leaving the Argies and Jocks to scrap for the second qualifying spot from the pool.
Anyway the Jocks may have thought that Dan Parks’ 72nd minute drop goal would have got them home, but a flash of brilliance by the Argentine backs found replacement fullback Lucas González Amorosino who danced inside his markers to dot for five immediately afterwards.
Skipper and veteran Felipe Contepomi held his nerve to kick the extra two and grab the lead which set off scenes of South American delight under the Caketin stands, and advanced his team to a last eight match up with favourites and hosts New Zealand.
Scotland still had a chance with their match against the Poms and pushed them to the 78th minute when a Chris Ashton try broke their hearts.
Canada 25 v Tonga 20 – Pool A
One other result you could argue may have been unexpected on rankings alone – Tonga were 12th, Canada 14th. I still rated Canada though.
Next up – some real Classics.