“To what?” most Americans ask. Ahhhhh. The Rugby World Cup mate!
So imagine my surprise when no less than three locals asked me today who I thought would win. I don’t think they quite expected the answer to take soooooo long.
Here’s how I see it.
- The All Blacks: The favorites and #1 team in the Universe. Some say they are chokers at this tournament. Reality is, the format of this tournament favors the best team on the day and they have made it to the semis and finals multiple times only to be beaten by a better team on the day. This time round they are incredibly well prepared and born of new professional era that should favor them. And I’ll be in the stands cheering – so that will help.
- Sth Africa (the Springboks): In incredible form this year and capable of stunning any big team. In my books they are equal to the All Blacks who have definitely been off form to date this year. I’m betting on an All Black vs. Sth Africa final. I hope they don’t meet before the final.
- Australia (the Wallabies): Sorry, the Qantas Wallabies. Actually, just like the Qantas plane fleet, great but aging. Some real stars in Larkham, Mortlock and Greegan. They could beat NZ or Sth Africa on the day. I just don’t see it happening in this tournament though. But hey, they are the great upsetters of Kiwi aspirations.
- France: Coached by “The Mouth” Laporte, the French have home field advantage but I just haven’t seen them rise to the level of the Sthrn Hemisphere teams. Don’t write them off. Laporte seems determined to piss everyone in NZ off and stir the pot.
- England: Pathetic. Washed up. Only slightly less annoying than English commentators are the coaches who now seem interested in attacking other sides integrity rather than focusing on their woeful preparation and strategy. It’s sad – they won last time round after Australia upset NZ to make it to the final.
- Ireland: Could surprise but aren’t looking like doing so.
- Wales & Scotland: Will be entertaining to watch them duke it out with the big guys and fight minnows – like the USA and Fiji.
As a spectator and rugby fanatic you couldn’t ask for a better scenario. Three wickedly talented sides fighting for a slot in the final and the dark horse France looking to raise their game at home. Will be a great tournament. If you want to watch in the US try Setanta sports.