Born and bred in Wellington, New Zealand, Dusty was the twelfth columnist to join Pen & Paper Sports and is our resident Rugby expert. In addition to this, Dusty will cover all things New Zealand sport, from the Black Caps (Cricket) to the Tall Blacks (Basketball), right through to the Silverferns (Netball).
Dusty’s sporting interest extends from the couch, having played Rugby whilst growing up in Wellington, as well as being a very accomplished cricketer.
The pool stages have ended in this years Rugby World Cup and only 8 teams are left to compete for the William Webb Ellis Cup. New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, France, England, Argentina, Ireland and Wales have all made it through but it wasn’t without some hiccups.
A few upsets have caused a nervous few weeks for the likes of Australia, England, France and South Africa with the latter’s close encounter with Wales which they managed to scrape over the line by 1 point, 17-16. Argentina arguably should have beaten England in their first match of the tournament and will now have to come up against the AB’s in the quarter final who are on a roll. France were beaten in the weekend in a massive upset by Tonga 19-14, but still manage to make it through to the quarters, and of course Ireland upset Australia to really make things hard for the Wallabies to get through to the final of this years cup. This upset has really turned the draw on its head as we now see the northern hemisphere sides on one side of the draw and the powerful southern hemisphere teams on the other.
South Africa and Australia meet in one of this weekends QF matches which will see one of the heavyweights in world rugby knocked out before the semi finals. And the winner of this will go on to play most likely the All Blacks in what will be a massive task for the hosts but an important one if they want to go the whole way and bring the Webb Ellis Cup to New Zealand for the first time since ‘87. The Wallabies who have been fairly inconsistent throughout the pool stages will have to be playing their best rugby to beat the improving Springboks team, who we might forget as being the holders of the Rugby World Cup. They have started off slowly this World Cup and still haven’t hit their straps with another hard fought win over Samoa over the weekend. A big match coming up and for an All Black supporter, will be watched on intensely.
The All Blacks, even without the injured Dan Carter for the rest of the tournament are still favourites to win this world cup in their home country. They have breezed through the pool stages like usual but now will come up against some stiff competition to make it through to what would be their 3rd world cup final. Argentina who they will be playing in their quarter final, have shown once again that they are a formidable opponent and are now up there in terms of the big name rugby teams in the world. They have been building solidly through this world cup and will give New Zealand a good match, but won’t beat the All Blacks with their one dimensional play. The AB’s are just too experienced and have too many tricks up their sleeves, therefore should account for the Pumas who have done themselves proud again.
England play France in another of the quarter finals this weekend and both have underperformed tremendously so far in this world cup. It doesn’t seem that either of them could go on to beat the AB’s, SA or the Wallabies. This is a hard game to predict with England getting out of jail against the Scots in the weekend, and France coming off their loss to Tonga. I am predicting France as they have a more exciting streak about them, and a kicker in Morgan Parra who can rival Johnny Wilkonson who has been uncharacteristically off with his kicking at goal this tournament.
The last QF to be played will be hotly contested by Ireland and Wales. A much anticipated match up with both teams having played some outstanding rugby in the pool groups and this game should be a cracker. Ireland look to be favourites after their emphatic victory over the Wallabies and if they play that same structured rugby, could find themselves pushing towards the Rugby World Cup Final. They have never been past the quarter finals in a world cup before so will be determined to beat a driven Wales team who will be coming off a 66 nil win over Fiji in their last pool match. Both teams deserve this opportunity and will give it their all in this do or die match.
All in all, this weekend of rugby looks to be an exciting one as it is finals time, and anything can happen in these knockout games. We know one of South Africa or Australia is not going to win the world cup this year, and we also know that both Ireland and Wales have made their stamp on things this tournament, and can produce winning rugby against the top nations. The All Blacks are without their premium playmaker, so will have to step up another notch if they want to go the distance, and I say, bring it on!!!