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Old 09-13-2019, 08:56 PM
mhendo is offline
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The 2019 Rugby World Cup (RWC) thread (spoilers almost guaranteed during and after games)


Are you ready for rugby?

It's just under a week until the 2019 Rugby World Cup gets under way in Japan, and I'm as excited as all get-out, even though I'm not especially confident about my team's chances in the tournament. I thought it was time to start a thread. I don't figure there'll be enough interest on the SDMB to sustain a separate thread for each game, so I figured I'd start this one, and we can use it to make our predictions and also to talk about the games as they happen.

If you're on the east coast of the United States like me, the vast majority of games will be starting in the middle of the night. I'm planning to watch most games on delay, and will just have to stay out of the thread until I've done so. For folks in Europe and Africa, games will begin early in the morning through to early in the afternoon, depending on where you are. And if you're in Australia and New Zealand, you're as near as dammit to Japan's time zone, so watching live should be pretty easy.

When we're discussing the games, I think we have to accept that anyone who's not watching live will need to be careful of spoilers. If the game's in progress, or finished, and you haven't watched it yet, stay out of the thread if you don't want to know the score.

Here are the pools, with current world rankings in brackets.

Pool A

Ireland (1)
Scotland (7)
Japan (10)
Samoa (16)
Russia (20)


Pool B

New Zealand (2)
South Africa (4)
Italy (14)
Canada (22)
Namibia (23)


Pool C

England (3)
France (8)
Argentina (11)
USA (13)
Tonga (15)


Pool D

Wales (5)
Australia (6)
Fiji (9)
Georgia (12)
Uruguay (19)


Match Schedule
The pools were set a couple of years ago, based on May 2017 world rankings, and there has been quite a lot of movement since then, especially up at the top of the order. I'm not sure that these rankings systems are particularly accurate, except as a general indicator. They're especially unreliable for single games between relatively closely-ranked teams. There are just too many factors that can contribute to a good or bad performance on any given day.

I'll be cheering for Australia, as usual, although I don't go into the competition with a lot of confidence. This Wallaby team is notoriously inconsistent, and they enter this world cup at their lowest ranking for any world cup this century, at #6.

They raised my hopes a couple of months back with a strong victory over the All Blacks in Perth. The Kiwis spent basically the whole second half with 14 men after a red card, but I thought that the Wallabies had also matched them well in the first half, when both sides were at full strength. I had visions of the Bledisloe Cup making a journey across the Tasman for the first time in more than 15 years. All of those hopes came crashing down a week later, however, when the All Blacks handed the Wallabies a 36-0 hiding at Eden Park. Australia were never even in the game, and were comprehensively whacked in basically every department. About the only bright spot was Will Genia, who played like a champ when he came on as a replacement in the second half.

I think the Australians should make it out of their group, although it's certainly not guaranteed. They're facing the current Six Nations champs, Wales, as well as a Fiji side that is only three places behind the Wallabies in world rankings.

I'm really interested to see this year's tournament, especially since the northern hemisphere has some real contenders, with Ireland currently ranked #1, England at 3, Wales at 5, Scotland at 7 and France at 8. If the Aussies can't pull out a miracle and win it all, I'd really like to see the Webb Ellis trophy go to a team that's never won it before. I'd be very happy with an Ireland win.

We don't get too much rugby in the US, at least not on regular TV, and I didn't see the Six Nations, so I'm not really up on the relative strengths of those teams, apart from their rankings, Despite winning the tournament undefeated just six months ago, Wales are currently ranked behind both Ireland and England. I'll leave it to more regular watchers of European rugby to weigh in on what they think about their teams' chances. Similarly, I haven't seen the South Africans or any of the Pacific Island teams play for a few years.

----

Related rant:

A hearty FUCK YOU to NBC Sports Gold, which is charging 200 fucking dollars for their Rugby World Cup Pass. That's fucking highway robbery for a six-week tournament consisting of 48 games. If you only want one or two games, you can get them on an individual basis for the bargain price of $30 each!!!!

Just over half the games (26 of 48) will be broadcast on regular cable channel NBC-SN (which I have), and some will also be replayed on NBC, but if you want all the games live and on-demand, you have to fork over 200 bucks. And some of the biggest pool games, between the biggest teams, are only on the Gold service. For example, Australia v. Wales; New Zealand v. South Africa; England v. France; Ireland v. Scotland.

I guess they do this because they have little or no incentive to charge less. They probably realize that most Americans probably aren't that interested in the RWC anyway, and wouldn't pay for the package even if it were, say, $70. And they are also betting that the relatively small number of hardcore rugby fans in the States will suck it up and pay the extortionate cost.

I haven't pirated content in years. Since media companies of all sorts (Netflix; Amazon; HBO; MLB; etc.) started to make it easy, and reasonably priced, to pay for content, I've been happy to part with my money. But I'm seriously considering getting a VPN and streaming the game through a foreign TV network, like ITV in the UK, or Channel 10 in Australia. Actually, breaking through geo-blocking using a VPN isn't technically piracy. But I'm also willing to download a game if I can't get it any other way.

Last edited by mhendo; 09-13-2019 at 09:00 PM.
  #2  
Old 09-14-2019, 03:37 AM
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Back the Blacks to win the cup and the Frogs to play one knockout game of utter brilliance.

Wallabies through to quarters with the luck of being in the weakest pool, and proceed no further.
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Old 09-14-2019, 03:59 AM
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$200!!! Bloody hell. That's a price that demands piracy.

Major problem with the RWC is that the Tier 2 nations are so unloved, and the natural migration of people from places like the Pacific Islands to find opportunity means that there's a bunch of players who could qualify for the likes of Tonga playing for Tier 1 nations instead, that the pool stages are usually pretty predictable. Japan beating South Africa last time was so amazing precisely because it is such a rare event to see an upset. The consequence is that the pool stages can take on the air of a bit of a phony war. Ireland, Scotland, SA, NZ, Australia and Wales are all pretty much guaranteed to be in the QFs - only the England/Argentina/France group has much of an air of intrigue about it, since only 2 sides can qualify. The matches between the 6 other teams I mentioned will be interesting, in as much as they will sort out seeding from the pool and potentially the winners get an "easier" QF but, contra to what Mhendo is saying above, I think the World Rankings are pretty accurate at the moment - they keep changing every week at the moment, which is a reflection of the fact that the top 6 sides are all capable of beating at least 4 of the others. The tournament consequentially is probably the most open between the Tier 1 sides than it has been for years.

All this said, it's no fun if you don't make a cast iron prediction that everyone can point and laugh at later, so I reckon it's going to be SA-NZ in the final and NZ will win it again. Not really sticking my neck out too far there, I guess, but NZ have the experience of winning the last two cups and can draw on that. They also have a deep squad, which is important in a tournament that has so many high impact games in a short space of time that injuries are guaranteed. SA have looked good this year, through the Rugby Championship and the warm ups, drawing with NZ in NZ and will be there or thereabouts. It helps both sides to be drawn against each other in the pool - thereafter they can't meet again until the final.

Wales are the reigning 6N champions and have a very solid side - or did until the injury bug bit them and ruled out several of their key players, notably Anscombe at 10 and Faletau at 8. They're a small nation and can't afford many more injuries due to depth of squad - if Biggar gets injured at 10, they're screwed for instance - but they'll be hard to beat. I can't back them to win for the prior reason and the fact that they've not beaten NZ since 1953; until they are able to demonstrate that they can win against them, I will assume the All Blacks will beat them should they play each other.

Ireland have had a difficult year - it looks like they peaked between World Cups and they've come off the top of their form where a well drilled, but limited, gameplan saw them beat NZ a couple of times. They are also likely to be hard to beat - but their pool is drawn to face NZ or SA in the QFs. They'll likely get knocked out there, despite probably being good enough to make the semis had they been drawn against one of the other two pools. For this reason, Scotland are not contenders either - they've never beaten NZ, and have similar potential issues to Wales in that they are a small nation with a limited player pool; injuries could hurt them significantly.

The cliche is wondering which France will turn up - it's rubbish. We know which France will turn up, the same one as turns up all the time from the last 10 years or so, where they've done very little of consequence in the 6 Nations. They'll be boring, with none of the flair of yore, but, due to the way French rugby is set up, this is the one time in every 4 year cycle that the national coaches actually get significant time with their players, so they'll likely be much better than than they are in the annual tournament or their Autumn games. They have the potential to do pretty well and might make the semis.

England have had a good set of warm ups and the concern has to be that they have tapered incorrectly and peaked prior to the tournament. The starting 23 picks itself and they have depth at several key positions. They do have a tendency to blow games of significance though - dropping a potential title decider against a very good Welsh side in the 6N and then in the final game, getting a 30+ point lead at home to Scotland and then blowing it, needing a last minute try to draw the game. In theory they could cause significant problems and will be targeting a semi final place at minimum, but they seem too flaky to me to be a chance to win the tournament.

Last edited by Cumbrian; 09-14-2019 at 04:02 AM.
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Old 09-14-2019, 09:22 AM
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Major problem with the RWC is that the Tier 2 nations are so unloved, and the natural migration of people from places like the Pacific Islands to find opportunity means that there's a bunch of players who could qualify for the likes of Tonga playing for Tier 1 nations instead, that the pool stages are usually pretty predictable.
Completely agree with this. I always find it a little annoying when I see good players from the Pacific Islands playing for one of the big teams. Don't get me wrong; as an Aussie supporter I'm happy to have some of these guys in our team, but it does seem incredibly unfair on the smaller nations.

I will say, though, that quite a few of Australia's current islander contingent did migrate to Australia at a young age, or were born there. They didn't grow up abroad and then just come to Australia to play rugby as an adult. A couple of Australia's players were actually born in New Zealand; I guess they figured it would be easier to make the Wallabies than the All Blacks.

Samuela Kerevi moved from Fiji to Australia at age 4. That's the same age that I was when my family migrated from England to Australia, and if I had grown up to be a world-class rugby or cricket player, I definitely wouldn't have had any interest in representing England; it would have been green and gold all the way.

Still, as a general proposition, I think the World Cup would be more interesting if the Tier 2 nations were stronger. I don't have stats on hand to back me up, but the Football (Soccer) World Cup always seems to have far more chance of upsets than the RWC. Part of that is down to the nature of the game; the low scoring in soccer means that a bit of luck is more likely to turn a game than in rugby. But there are also just far more nations where soccer is a truly powerful sport.
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...contra to what Mhendo is saying above, I think the World Rankings are pretty accurate at the moment - they keep changing every week at the moment, which is a reflection of the fact that the top 6 sides are all capable of beating at least 4 of the others.
Sorry, I should have made myself clearer. It's not so much that I think they're inaccurate; it's more of what you are saying in the second half of this paragraph. The rankings might be accurate, but they're close enough that they don't matter too much when two closely-ranked teams meet on the field.

Last edited by mhendo; 09-14-2019 at 09:22 AM.
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Old 09-15-2019, 05:52 PM
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The rather snazzy RWC app tells me it's only 4 days, 12 hours and 55 minutes until the first match.

This is the most open world cup there's been for ages. I think it's going to be awesome. Great summaries above from mhendo and Cumbrian so I won't go into to details. But my cast-iron prediction is Tonga will beat France so Argentina go through second in Pool C.
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Old 09-16-2019, 05:23 PM
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Fifteen thousand locals turned up to watch Wales train. Wow.
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Old 09-17-2019, 05:26 AM
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It's not so much that I think they're inaccurate; it's more of what you are saying in the second half of this paragraph. The rankings might be accurate, but they're close enough that they don't matter too much when two closely-ranked teams meet on the field.
I agree with that as well.

I look at the top 6 and I struggle to come to a clear idea of how exactly any top 6 match-up will pan out. Sure it is an easy bet to go with NZ for any given win but the top 6 are all good enough and variable enough to make them closer to 50/50 propositions than it has been in the past. Last WC saw NZ as clear favourites, 2003 had England as clear favourites. I don't think we are in the same position this time.

Which is great isn't it? I really looking forward to it.
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Old 09-17-2019, 05:55 AM
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I will say, though, that quite a few of Australia's current islander contingent did migrate to Australia at a young age, or were born there. They didn't grow up abroad and then just come to Australia to play rugby as an adult. A couple of Australia's players were actually born in New Zealand; I guess they figured it would be easier to make the Wallabies than the All Blacks.
Yep, we're in agreement. Several of the England side are in the same boat - the Vunipola's came over here as children because their family was seeking economic opportunity, Tuilagi came over when he was 12 because his eldest brother was here playing rugby, Cokanasiga's dad was in the British Army - and it runs through the whole of the rugby playing world, I would imagine. I have a mate who is Samoan and teaches in Auckland; he put me onto some interesting articles about how NZ was built by Islander workforces, coming to NZ for higher wages, and I imagine Australia is somewhat similar.

There's been a lot of talk about poaching over the years and I just don't think it stands up. The world is easier to move around than it was 50 years ago and rugby will find it hard to address issues of international economics. I would like to see greater, probably one way, fluidity for dual qualified players. Guys who played 7s for a couple of tournaments on the circuit when they were 21 being tied that country and then being chucked on the scrap heap at 23, should be able to move countries (one way in that I don't want to see Tongan internationals using their side as a stepping stone into a Tier 1 country - but am more than happy to see players shift out of the big powers if they're no longer wanted at international level, so as we can strengthen those sides). It would benefit the game a lot I think, as would greater numbers of games between the Tier 2 and Tier 1 nations outside RWC tournaments and some sort of revenue sharing scheme to ensure that facilities and training in Tier 2 nations is up to snuff.

Re: the ranking - yes, understood. We're on the same page there too.

Last edited by Cumbrian; 09-17-2019 at 05:55 AM.
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Old 09-17-2019, 06:58 AM
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Fifteen thousand locals turned up to watch Wales train. Wow.
Heh, 75,000 turn up to hear them sing! 😊
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Old 09-17-2019, 08:58 AM
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Here in the UK we're fortunate that all the games are being shown by a major terrestrial TV channel - ITV.
(A few matches will be on a sister channel, ITV4, but that's still free to view.)

As an English supporter, I think our coach Eddie Jones has done a jolly good job over the last few years.
However he has made a couple of 'interesting' decisions:

- he's only taking two scum-halves and one (Willi Heinz) has just a couple of caps
- there are two other players with just 1 cap (before the warm-up matches)
- our most promising back-row in my opinion (such an important area for rucks), is Curry / Underhill / Vunipola. I don't think they've ever played together before the warm-up matches

I do hope the Tier 2 sides make a good showing. Rugby Union will be much stronger if it goes world-wide.
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Old 09-17-2019, 09:26 AM
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I do hope the Tier 2 sides make a good showing. Rugby Union will be much stronger if it goes world-wide.
I agree, but England might have most cause to regret that remark if they slip up against Tonga and/or the USA and thus fail to qualify. That's the most likely source of a really big upset in my view, though no doubt the third-ranked teams in each pool will all fancy their chances at qualifying. Of those I'd say Italy have the least hope, being a known quantity and their best players aging. Pool C looks the trickiest proposition for the top 2, to me.

My predictions are almost always miles off, so I'll go with Japan and Argentina being surprise quarter-finalists, alongside Ireland, NZ, SA, England, Wales, and Australia, with Wales ultimately lifting the trophy.

I agree with glee about Eddie Jones - I think this World Cup will be either complete vindication or complete disaster. Yes, I know that doesn't really tie in with what I just said. If you make two conflicting predictions, it's more likely one of them will be right .
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Old 09-17-2019, 09:34 AM
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I have a mate who is Samoan and teaches in Auckland; he put me onto some interesting articles about how NZ was built by Islander workforces, coming to NZ for higher wages, and I imagine Australia is somewhat similar.
Unfortunately, Australia's history of islander workers is rather more sordid than that. For a lot of them, it was incredibly unfair work contracts that they were deceived into signing by unscrupulous agents, and for some it was little more than slavery.
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It would benefit the game a lot I think, as would greater numbers of games between the Tier 2 and Tier 1 nations outside RWC tournaments and some sort of revenue sharing scheme to ensure that facilities and training in Tier 2 nations is up to snuff.
That would all help, but I'm not sure there's any way to get over the basic demographic hurdle.

South Africa has about 57 million people, England has 55 million, France has 67 million, Australia has 24 million, Scotland has 5 million.

By contrast, Fiji has under 1 million people, Samoa has just over 200,000, and Tonga has about 100,000. Can you imagine if England had to choose its national rugby team from the population of Carlisle? Because that's basically the number of people in Tonga. There's no amount of revenue sharing that's likely to fix that basic disadvantage.

New Zealand is sort of a special case. They only have about 4 million people, but the whole male sporting population is obsessed with playing rugby, to the exclusion of virtually all other sports.

Last edited by mhendo; 09-17-2019 at 09:35 AM.
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Old 09-17-2019, 10:46 AM
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My predictions are almost always miles off, so I'll go with Japan and Argentina being surprise quarter-finalists, alongside Ireland, NZ, SA, England, Wales, and Australia, with Wales ultimately lifting the trophy.
I think (and kind of hope) that Scotland get to the quarters but apart from that you won't be far wrong.

I don't get a very positive vibe about Wales though. In the recent internationals they've varied from "poor" to "fine" and that's about it. They've got the players to turn it on of course in an individual game but they aren't pulling up trees.
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Old 09-17-2019, 10:59 AM
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By contrast, Fiji has under 1 million people, Samoa has just over 200,000, and Tonga has about 100,000. Can you imagine if England had to choose its national rugby team from the population of Carlisle? Because that's basically the number of people in Tonga. There's no amount of revenue sharing that's likely to fix that basic disadvantage.
Well, yes, quite. That said, much like NZ, rugby is the only sport of significance in all these places and every single player of potential has the right physical attributes to play international rugby. I come from Carlisle - top work by you - and played for my county when I was a kid. Your average Tongan would kill me on the rugby field!

The demographic hurdle is, as you've rightly pointed out, difficult to surmount. It's definitely not helped by some of their diaspora not being available though - which I think is the area that we both agree on.

Re: Australia/Islander history. Hmmm - not good. We're hardly ones to be pointing fingers up here on the North Western European Archipelago though.

Last edited by Cumbrian; 09-17-2019 at 10:59 AM.
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Old 09-17-2019, 11:06 AM
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As an English supporter, I think our coach Eddie Jones has done a jolly good job over the last few years.
However he has made a couple of 'interesting' decisions:

- he's only taking two scum-halves and one (Willi Heinz) has just a couple of caps
- there are two other players with just 1 cap (before the warm-up matches)
- our most promising back-row in my opinion (such an important area for rucks), is Curry / Underhill / Vunipola. I don't think they've ever played together before the warm-up matches
The first and third of these - I would agree - are somewhat of a concern. I think the second may be a bit of good work by Jones though. It seems clear to me, as I remarked above, that the starting 23 basically picks itself. In this case, picking a bunch of guys who are likely to play parts against Tonga and the USA and otherwise hold tackle bags is fraught. Do you go with players who have experience and run the risk of them sowing dissension in the ranks by moaning about their not playing, or a bunch of young kids who are delighted to be at the RWC and will willingly hold those tackle bags in training for 5-7 weeks, but may come up short if you have a load of injuries? It's not clear to me that the latter isn't preferable, given that some of the fringe members of the initial squads (Brown, Teo, Cipriani, Haskell) have reputations for being difficult. Could come back to bite them though.

The scrum half selection is baffling. You don't go into a World Cup with only two scrum halves - it means both have to be in every match day squad and you're then a hostage to fortune with injuries. Remember when Bergamasco went to scrum half for Italy against England a few years back? It was a disaster, and a signal reminder that it's one of the few true specialist positions in rugby (prop and hooker being the others).
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Old 09-17-2019, 11:12 AM
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I don't get a very positive vibe about Wales though. In the recent internationals they've varied from "poor" to "fine" and that's about it. They've got the players to turn it on of course in an individual game but they aren't pulling up trees.
Bad set of warm ups for Wales but they reeled off 16(?) wins on the spin and won the Grand Slam in the 6N. They're fine. Like I said above, difficult to beat. Concerns are, again, as I said above, that they're in trouble due to injuries to key players and one or two more (Biggar or Jonathan Davies the 2nd going down, say) will probably more than they can bear.

Also story now doing the rounds that Howley - their attack coach - has been pulled off the coaching squad due to allegations of betting improprieties.

https://www.walesonline.co.uk/sport/...world-16933955

As he looks a bit like Stan Laurel, I would imagine Warren Gatland is exclaiming "another fine mess you've gotten us into".
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Old 09-17-2019, 11:37 AM
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Ha! With a bit of extra padding and the moustache, you could probably make up Gatland to pass for Oliver Hardy, too.
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Old 09-17-2019, 02:15 PM
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I guess they do this because they have little or no incentive to charge less. They probably realize that most Americans probably aren't that interested in the RWC anyway, and wouldn't pay for the package even if it were, say, $70. And they are also betting that the relatively small number of hardcore rugby fans in the States will suck it up and pay the extortionate cost.
I wouldn't be surprised if the price is targeted at bars/pubs, which is where I expect a lot of ex-pats would get together to watch their country's matches.
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Old 09-17-2019, 03:32 PM
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I wouldn't be surprised if the price is targeted at bars/pubs, which is where I expect a lot of ex-pats would get together to watch their country's matches.
Nope. There's actually a whole separate site for bar and pub subscriptions, and these types of commercial establishments are generally charged considerably more than private homes, and pay a fee based on their capacity. So, a sports bar that seats 250 people will pay a different rate than a small pub that seats 50.

If you try to telecast sports in a pub or bar using a regular residential TV subscription, you'll have the content providers knocking on your door and threatening you with a lawsuit in about ten miinutes. DirecTV's NFL Sunday Ticket costs an individual residence about three hundred dollars per year, but if you're a bar or hotel, the price starts at well over $1,000, and goes up into the tens of thousands. The Consumerist, back in 2015, had a chart showing the costs, and I'll bet they've gone up since then.
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Old 09-17-2019, 05:25 PM
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On the rankings point I saw a list of world cup upsets (where a lower ranked team beat a higher ranked one in a world cup match) since 2003 on reddit (which I can't find at the moment sorry). Of the 192 games in those four tournaments there were a grand total of 29 upsets. About 1 in 7 games roughly. So I think the rankings are a pretty solid indicator overall.

To win the world cup a team needs to beat three tier one nations in a row. Looking at the current chart I'd say everyone down to Australia could do it, with Scotland and France being maybes. So to my mind there are six legitimate contenders, up from the usual 3 or 4. It's going to be a great tournament!

2 days and 13 hours until Japan v Russia...
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Old 09-17-2019, 06:20 PM
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Looking at the current chart I'd say everyone down to Australia could do it, with Scotland and France being maybes.
As an Aussie, I hope you're right, but I'd have the Wallabies as "maybes" right now.

Interestingly, the points gap between Wales at 5 and Australia at 6 is larger than the points gap between the top five teams.

Last edited by mhendo; 09-17-2019 at 06:20 PM.
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Old 09-17-2019, 06:32 PM
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The scrum half selection is baffling. You don't go into a World Cup with only two scrum halves - it means both have to be in every match day squad and you're then a hostage to fortune with injuries. Remember when Bergamasco went to scrum half for Italy against England a few years back? It was a disaster, and a signal reminder that it's one of the few true specialist positions in rugby (prop and hooker being the others).
Thanks for your helpful comments.

I heard a rumour that Eddie Jones will use George Ford as an emergency scrum-half. Ford is a talented player, but has little experience of the specialist position.
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Old 09-18-2019, 03:19 AM
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To win the world cup a team needs to beat three tier one nations in a row.

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So to my mind there are six legitimate contenders, up from the usual 3 or 4.
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As an Aussie, I hope you're right, but I'd have the Wallabies as "maybes" right now.
Which makes you both incorrigible optimists.
The chance of Australia winning three tier ones games in the tournament is Buckley's.
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Old 09-18-2019, 05:50 PM
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A lifetime of supporting New Zealand teams in various sports has led me to never prematurely write off Australia in any international competition.
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Old 09-18-2019, 11:38 PM
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Conversely, this side of the ditch has a lifetime of watching the All Black ritually butcher any Wallaby team that runs out ... even when the team is packed with as many Pacific Islander born "Aussies" as Australian immigration will allow.

Surely a 89% winning record since the 2011 Rugby World Cup and 77% winning record for the past 120 years is some sort of salve to the pathological need to win at all costs? Was Richie McCaw ever seen onside during his career of 148 Tests?

Surely the rare prospect of dropping the occasional international every decade or so is a small price to pay for the incessant privilege of pinching everybody else's lunch money?

  #26  
Old 09-20-2019, 06:57 AM
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First try to Russia! Well that was unexpected.
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Old 09-20-2019, 07:15 AM
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Good entertainment so far, and a decent standard, though a few dropped catches and handling errors. I imagine the Russian kicker wouldn't have thanked his try scorer for not getting closer to the posts, but he nailed the kick perfectly anyway.
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Old 09-20-2019, 07:23 AM
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Russia doing much better under the high ball than Japan. Presumably they will tire more in the last quarter, but at the moment they look favourites to win this.

Q. What do you call a Welshman who makes the World Cup Final?

A. Nigel Owens.
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Old 09-20-2019, 07:34 AM
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That looked a try all day long but turned out to be a great saving tackle by the Russian winger. So they retain their slender lead. Although they just very nearly lost it to the most obvious charge down ever - the defender was practically on top of him when he attempted the kick! But it went to Russian hands and they get away with it.
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Old 09-20-2019, 07:47 AM
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Russia could have scored a couple more to be honest but the ball carriers didn't get the last pass away. Much closer game than I expected, but the Russians are starting to look tired.
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Old 09-20-2019, 08:32 AM
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Yeah, sooner than I expected. Japan running away with it now. I thought that was a poor kick over the top by Japan just now, but he got a helpful bounce, and then the Russian kick was truly terrible to basically give away that last try.

Good opener for the tournament.
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Old 09-20-2019, 08:43 AM
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Loving the gong sound effect (rather than the usual hooter) marking the end of the 80 minutes - a nice touch. Russia still doing their best to score in the last play of the game, but can't quite manage it.
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Old 09-20-2019, 08:52 AM
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Russia did well in defence but look pretty limited in attack. Far too many aimless kicks.

Japan need to start with their reserve first-five, the starting guy had a shocker.
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Old 09-20-2019, 10:33 AM
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Well, that was an entertaining way to open the tournament.

The Russians definitely suffered from a lack of conditioning. They were already looking tired in the last ten minutes of the first half. Some terrible kicking by both teams. Far too many off the side of the boot, or straight up in the air. I thought that the shorter kicks, just over the first line of defense, often looked like the best option, and I'm surprised that both teams didn't try it a little more often. Some good tackling by both teams, though.

The Wallabies face Fiji tonight, followed by France and Argentina, and then a huge matchup between the All Blacks and the Springboks.
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Old 09-20-2019, 09:16 PM
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As a person who has never watched Rugby before, if I wanted to try to follow the world cup is there some sort of cheat sheet that exists to help me understand what is happening?
  #36  
Old 09-20-2019, 09:28 PM
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As a person who has never watched Rugby before, if I wanted to try to follow the world cup is there some sort of cheat sheet that exists to help me understand what is happening?
Just ask questions in the thread - there's some right knowledgeable types who form a small but perfectly formed rugby community on here. Be aware of timezone differences though.

Edit: Also, have a look through previous rugby threads in this forum - there's usually been a fair bit of explanation going on

Last edited by Baron Greenback; 09-20-2019 at 09:30 PM.
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Old 09-20-2019, 09:33 PM
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A Beginners Guide to Rugby Union

If you're willing to do a bit of clicking and reading, that will certainly help.

Here's a shorter, more straightforward guide.

Here's another, although it's from 2000 and some of the finer points of the rules have changed since then.

But really, there's no better way to learn a game than to just watch. Often, watching and listening to the commentary will give you a pretty good idea of what's going on, and over time you'll get the hang of what the rules are, what the penalties are all about, and why they are doing what they're doing. And, as Baron Greenback says, feel free to ask questions here.

Last edited by mhendo; 09-20-2019 at 09:33 PM.
  #38  
Old 09-20-2019, 09:49 PM
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Here's another, although it's from 2000 and some of the finer points of the rules have changed since then.
I think it's worthwhile saying too: don't get too hung up on the minutiae of the rules, they can seem quite arcane in some situations. The referee is miked-up though, and the commentators are usually good at explaining what is going on.

Basically, just enjoy the ebb and flow, and stand enraptured by Scotland scoring the two most swashbuckling tries of the tournament but also completely failing to defend against any opponent who has more than one working leg
  #39  
Old 09-21-2019, 01:08 AM
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Australia - Fiji starting well. I think we're in for another exciting one.
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Old 09-21-2019, 02:38 AM
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A boil over looked quite a chance for a while but the yellow card gutshot their chances.
The Fijians wearing gold played pretty well.

You gotta love a game where the final gong sounds and four minutes later they are still playing.
  #41  
Old 09-21-2019, 11:18 AM
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A boil over looked quite a chance for a while but the yellow card gutshot their chances.
Right, although the yellow card itself was a product of the fact that the Wallabies started playing much better, keeping it simple and not making unforced errors. Once Australia got within a point of Fiji, I was reasonably confident of the outcome.

Still, the Aussies were terrible in the first half, making some basic errors and some really bad decisions, like the quick lineout throw right on their own try line. And the Fijians were inventive in attack, running hard, and tackling like absolute monsters. There were some real crunching hits out there. In the end, Australia's organization and depth made a difference. And, like in Auckland, I thought that the Wallabies improved considerably with Will Genoa at scrum half.

If Australia play like their first half performance against Wales or any other top tier side, they'll get thrashed. And even their second half performance might not be good enough against a side with more depth and quality.
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Old 09-21-2019, 12:07 PM
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...Will Genoa...
Genia.

Stupid autocorrect.
  #43  
Old 09-21-2019, 03:50 PM
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Three good games. I think Australia did well to come back against Fiji and hold them scoreless for the last quarter. Argentina must be furious about how their game ended. NZ v South Africa was a hell of an arm wrestle.

Ireland v Scotland will be the pick of the games today. Ireland should win comfortably on form but I hope Scotland come through and make a good game of it. Italy v Namibia is a bit skippable though.
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Old 09-21-2019, 04:48 PM
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Yeah, three very entertaining games, with some excellent rugby.

I was cheering for the Pumas against France, and I really thought they were going to do it with their excellent second-half performance. A real shame that long-range penalty kick didn't go through, and I also thought the ref, who had a pretty good game, missed a French forward pass that allowed France to get deep into Argentina's territory late in the game.

Wasn't really sure who to cheer for in the last game, but it was great to watch. South Africa had the best of the first twenty minutes, but couldn't make it count on the scoreboard, and the Kiwis were all over them in the in the 15 or 20 minutes before half time. Wasn't a good game to watch for a Australian supporter. While the Wallabies did well to come back against Fiji, I think they would have been crushed by either New Zealand or South Africa today.
  #45  
Old 09-21-2019, 04:56 PM
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Ireland v Scotland will be the pick of the games today. Ireland should win comfortably on form but I hope Scotland come through and make a good game of it. Italy v Namibia is a bit skippable though.
After tonight's Ireland/Scotland game, barring some unbelievable upset, there's not really another game with interesting quarter-final implications until Wales and Australia meet next Sunday. Basically every other game for the next week is either an entirely predictable win for a top-tier side (Wales v. Georgia; England v. USA; South Africa v. Namibia), or a (possibly interesting and fun) contest between a pair of second-tier sides.
  #46  
Old 09-22-2019, 08:35 AM
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That's the trouble with World Cups - the gap between the Tier I sides and the rest is so big that half the games are effectively training sessions. Commentator during England-Tonga today "I think Steve Borthwick [England defence coach] will be happy that England gave away that scrum penalty - gives them a chance to practice their line-out defence".

Ireland looked good today putting Scotland away. England didn't - they spent the first half giving away penalties at the breakdown and the second half dropping the ball (also Ellis Genge is a walking scrum penalty).

Reece Hodge has been cited for a tackle he got away with on the pitch. Australia were too good for Fiji but took way too long to get started. Argentina will be kicking themselves - France gave them enough chances but while they had plenty of honest grunt they didn't have much of a cutting edge.
  #47  
Old 09-22-2019, 09:34 AM
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As a person who has never watched Rugby before, if I wanted to try to follow the world cup is there some sort of cheat sheet that exists to help me understand what is happening?
Mhendo's links look good.

If you want a brief (+ simplistic!) summary:

- it's similar to American Football, but you can only pass sideways or backwards
- it's good to be further up the pitch (and to have the ball)
- play is continuous until the ball goes out of play or a player commits an offence
- scoring is 5 points for touching down over the opponent's back line (plus a chance for a 2 point bonus kick); or 3 points for kicking the ball between the posts
- there are specialist positions with names (e.g. the 'fly-half' or 'standoff' is like the quarterback)
  #48  
Old 09-22-2019, 05:16 PM
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As a person who has never watched Rugby before, if I wanted to try to follow the world cup is there some sort of cheat sheet that exists to help me understand what is happening?
Another resource are analysis videos from various people. Here's Squidge Rugby's take on Japan v Russia for example. In between all the awful puns and dad jokes there's some pretty astute observations going on.
  #49  
Old 09-23-2019, 09:52 AM
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Ireland looked good today putting Scotland away. England didn't - they spent the first half giving away penalties at the breakdown and the second half dropping the ball (also Ellis Genge is a walking scrum penalty).
Ireland did it pretty easy. I was disappointed in Scotland; apart from some early pressure, they were never really in it.

I thought it was a bit hard to draw too many conclusions from the England game. I agree with what you say about them, but they were never really troubled in the game, and sometimes teams make more unforced errors when they're not under too much pressure.
  #50  
Old 09-23-2019, 10:10 AM
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Scotland were awful, living up to the second part of Baron Greenback's prediction above without getting anywhere close to the first part. The only saving grace is that our most obvious route to qualifying didn't rely on beating Ireland so this should be a manageable loss. However, I can't imagine Japan or Samoa watching our performance with anything other than rising optimism.
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