Who will win the Rugby World Cup?

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Who will win the Rugby World Cup?

A personal overview of who will the Rugby World Cup (RWC 2015) from Ex Munster and Ireland International David Corkery.

Rugby World Cup Vivomed

“With the biggest sporting event of the year drawing ever closer my brother and I recently had a late night debate as to who might take ownership of the Webb Ellis Cup for the next four years.

It was a conversation that didn’t really get heated but for me it did transgress into the realms of irrational thinking on my brothers behalf.

Setting to one side the usual Southern Hemisphere suspects of the All Blacks, South Africa and Australia in that order, we looked at who else is in with a realistic chance of making use of an open top bus.

The irrepressible French were first in line for scrutiny however; it was agreed that their ability to cultivate and sometimes celebrate inconsistency will more than likely be the sword they once again fall on.

Having played against them on four occasions including the quarter final of the 1995 Rugby World Cup in South Africa you just never knew which French side were going to turn up.

Firing on all cylinders “Les Bleus” have the ability to rip you to shreds albeit the physical advantage they once enjoyed in years gone by has diminished with the onset of professionalism. What has always set the French rugby apart is their “lais-sez faire” style of play. Never afraid to step outside the box of conformity they have the willingness and want to play an open brand of rugby that is regrettably getting swallowed up because of the must win pressures that coincide with the professional game.

Could they win it? Yes. Will they win it? Highly unlikely.

Rugby-World-Cup-2015-Pool-Tables

This may sound nonsensical but I think they would rather be remembered as a team of “should haves”. It would give them another opportunity to open another bottle of Burgundy and complain as only the French can do and I don’t mean that in a bad way.

So after we extinguished all hope for the frogs we swiftly moved across the channel to England, the hosting nation and to date the only northern hemisphere team who has won this tournament.

 

 

England Rugby the team everyone loves to hate! Whether it is for historical reasons or otherwise is a personal matter however, as a rugby nation you have to admire them.

Their organisational (the RFU) structures are sound and despite having a few rogue players who every now and then bring the game into distribute, they are a squad with serious potential.

England’s headmaster Stuart Lancaster, seems to have injected a serious dose of correction into his players and his zero tolerance approach to discipline is having a big effect on how the team functions.

Up front they have a pack of forwards that can stand toe to toe with the biggest and boldest the world has to offer and out wide they now have pace and evasion. Not since the retirement of Jason Robinson has England had a winger who can literally side step in mid-air however, in the twenty one year old Bath winger Anthony Watson, they have unearthed a player who is very much the real deal. Give this guy the space to show his magical foot work and he will leave you looking like a kid who just had his chocolate bar stolen.

The exclusion of Danny Cipriani from Lancaster’s final squad was a bit of a surprise because he is a player who has the capacity to play almost anywhere in the back line.

The Sale Sharks playEngland Rugby Logo Vivomeder has had his issues with some off field incidents and my belief is that the English coaching ticket are simply not prepared to take any risks with someone who has a public profile that is relentlessly under the spotlight of the media. His playboy persona might just have scuppered his opportunity to play in a World Cup which is a shame because he is an incredible talent.

 

If England get momentum and don’t grab headlines for all the wrong reasons, I firmly believe they will be serious contenders.

I won’t bore you about the prospects of the All Blacks because every dog on the road knows what they can bring to the party. Their strength in depth is, was and always will be their trump card and they could easily field three or four teams that could compete in this tournament. The favorite’s tag that dangles from their door every single time they play is something that is fully warranted and didn’t just manifest overnight, it was earned the hard way with blood and sweat.

New Zealand’s neighbors Australia on the other hand are perhaps a bit of an unknown quantity.

Rugby in Australia has suffered over the last ten years or so and is now only starting to find its feet again. Like in Ireland they have other sports that drain their talent pool and with rugby league, Australian rules football and cricket all taking precedence, the game has suffered with a lack of participation at underage level.

On a good day they can compete with the best however, they have very little consistency and like England they have had their off field discipline issues which blights their identity with the general public.

They are in a pool of death (Pool A) with Wales, Fiji, England and Uruguay and with only two to progress, most of the games in this pool will be fascinating encounters.

Twice winners of the competition South Africa will also be raising their heads above the parapet for honors and will look to their schoolyard bully boy tactics to see them through.

The Springboks were rocked in recent weeks as a bid by an obscure political party to have the team banned from competing in the World Cup was lodged.

The issue arose when the ANA (Agency for a New Agenda) tried to play the racial card when stating there were not enough black players in the squad.

Thankfully common sense prevailed and the case ended up in the bin where it belongs.

Unlike Australia’s pool, the Boks have a relatively easy passage through to the knock out stages. In their way stand the U.S.A, Scotland, Samoa and Japan. None of these teams should cause them any real concerns.

This brings me now to talk about Ireland.

Vivomed IRFU Medical Suppliers

Never before have Ireland progressed beyond the quarter finals of any World Cup. They came closest in 1990 when Australia scored in the final play of the game to deny them of a famous victory.

Rugby has changed a hell of a lot since then and with the onset of professionalism the IRFU have moved swiftly with the times to ensure the players of today are afforded every opportunity to compete at the highest level.

Long gone are the days of players worrying about getting time off to play for their country as was the case in 1995 when I was lucky enough to be part of that squad. After beating Wales in the final pool game it meant that our stay was prolonged by another ten days as we had to play in the quarter finals against France. Some of the players in the squad came under immense pressure to head back because of work commitments.  This was not exactly the best environment to compete in the ¼ finals of a World Cup.

Anyhow this has all changed and the expectations around this current squad are extremely high, in my opinion, too high.

For me whilst all the peripheral things that go into running a successful team are now in place, I just don’t think the depth of the squad is strong enough which has always been an issue for Irish rugby.

Should anything happen to the likes of Johnny Sexton, Conor Murray, Paul O’Connell or Mike Ross, I just don’t think the next in line are at the same level. Hopefully nothing will happen and the systems that Joe Schmidt has implemented will be allowed develop and mature as he has planned.

Joe Schmidt who has a very soft and kind demeanor is probably one of the hardest task master Irish rugby has ever had in situ. Underneath that inviting and friendly facade lies a man that is hell bent on reaching the pinnacle in the sport.

The New Zealander’s attention to detail is obsessive and the knowledge he possesses about the game has brought his players to push themselves to places they never thought possible before.

If he has a fault and this is yet to be established, it is that he might be too structured in how he directs the players to play.

There seems to be very little opportunities for the players to play heads up rugby and for me in a game where so many things can go wrong, key play makers must be afforded the freedom to express their natural ability to attack when opportunities seem plausible and scramble in defense when everything else has failed.

Structure is great when there is little or no pressure but playing in a World Cup puts players on a stage where the burden of expectancy will undoubtedly cause them to crack and do things that they might normally never have thought of doing.

Ireland’s pool is by far the easiest they have ever been drawn in and it would be unthinkable to even imagine them not progressing to the knockout stages. The big question is whether they will finish first or second. Finishing first would mean they will more than likely end up playing Argentina in the quarters, come second and they will be rewarded with the task of facing off against the mighty Blacks.

Webb Ellis Cup
Webb Ellis Cup

I don’t think it would be wise of me to predict a winner right now however, for this campaign to be viewed as a success the minimum that is expected from Ireland is a semi-final show down.

The crunch game for Ireland should be the game against France on the 11th of October albeit; the Italians could also cause us some problems a week earlier. I’m not even going to mention Romania because if we were to worry about them, there would be little point in turning up in the first place.

Sport has many uncertainties which makes it such a magical obsession. It can captivate nations, bring entire countries together and in the same breath rip them apart. For many people it can take over their lives and for others they simply despise the very thought of it.

This may come across as a bit strange but I don’t really care who wins this World Cup. I am just looking forward to watching as many games as I possibly can and look forward to the unpredictability of the oval ball.

It is going to be fascinating viewing and to have played in two World Cups I consider myself to have been blessed.

No money could buy the sensation that the players are going to feel and what’s more important is that no one can ever take it away from them.”

David Corkery

Vivomed Sales Manager – Ireland

www.Vivomed.com

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