There hasn’t been much talk of the RWC11 draw. Probably because we are all in spasms of frustration over the performance of the Aussie Super14 teams. But here it is in all its quadrennial magnificence.
Americas 1 (USA?)
Asia 1 (Japan)
Maybe France can knock the Kiwis out of their own World Cup in the pool stages. But I reckon the Frogs will sit back and smoke their Gitanes for this one. And I can’t see Japan developing much from this pool except severe bruising.
Europe 1 (Georgia?)
Play-off winner (Uruguay?)
England, as always, are the second-ranked team in their pool. Scotland must fancy their chances of an upset somewhere here. Quite an interesting pool which will give these teams a tough ride to the quarters. Which is exactly what you want, according to the latest thinking on the matter.
Europe 2 (Romania? Spain?)
Americas 2 (Canada?)
This becomes a little more interesting now that the Irish are 6 Nations champs. But if history is any guide, the Wallabies will look awful against Ireland (but beat them by 1) and absolutely shocking against Italy (but beat them by 8). The end of the pool stages would be a good time to plant some dollars on the Wallabies because they should be written off by then if all goes to plan. They might even lose a game, which would really sweeten the odds.
Oceania 1 (Manu Samoa)
Africa 1 (Namibia?)
Wales, the poor bastards, have to play South Africa, Fiji and Samoa in their pool. Expect them to lie down against the Saffers and scrape home against the Islanders, who get penalised out of the game. The Taffs will take a few studmarks through with them to the quarters.
Wallaby Pool Schedule
Sun Sept 11 Australia v Italy Christchurch
Sat Sept 17 Australia v Ireland Auckland
Fri Sept 23 Australia v Americas 2 Wellington
Sat Oct 1 Australia v Europe 2 Christchurch
Not a bad schedule: the A-team grinds it out twice in 7 days, then probably takes a week off, then comes back to punish Europe 2 with some sweet combinations. More importantly, if we can organise a G&GR tour, we get a nice bus ride around the country, but no Roto-bloody-rua or freezin’ Dunedin.
Sat Oct 8 QF1: W Pool C v RU Pool D Wellington
Sat Oct 8 QF2: W Pool B v RU Pool A Christchurch
Sun Oct 9 QF3: W Pool D v RU Pool C Wellington
Sun Oct 9 QF4: W Pool A v RU Pool B Christchurch
This is where we get the abacus and slide-rule out to figure out the permutations. But let’s say we win the pool, then we’ll meet probably an injury-depleted Wales. Another hopeless unwashed team that we’ll try our best to lose to.
Sat Oct 15 SF1: W QF1 v W QF2 Auckland
Sun Oct 16 SF2: W QF3 v W QF4 Auckland
Total guesswork at this point. Consult the Oracle. But if you held a gun to my head, I’d say that we’re looking at a battle-hardened Argentina for our first proper hitout. The lack of international competition for the Argies should save us here. Nice work SANZAR!
Fri Oct 21 Bronze Final Auckland
Sun Oct 23 Final Auckland
If we rule out the Kiwis, who must have either lost to the French or to someone else along the way, then I’d say South Africa will be our playthings in the final.
So – who knows how to drive a bus?