By Josh Burton
What is the rugby world cup?
The Rugby World Cup; the biggest international stage for rugby is well underway in Japan. So far, there has been all the drama, emotion and upset found in a soap opera.
This year’s competition is the most open and unpredictable in recent years. There are several high-ranking teams who could be in a position to be crowned winners, whereas in recent competitions it has been somewhat of a two-horse race.
How does it work?
But how does the Rugby World Cup work? The best 20 teams across the globe come together to compete for the coveted William Webb Ellis trophy. The competition structure is very similar to that of the football world cup, with both pool stages and knock out matches. The teams are fairly split into four pools of five teams, based on their world ranking at the time the draw is made. This means that smaller rugby nations such as Canada, who are the lowest ranked team in the world cup get the opportunity to play the best teams in the world such as New Zealand. The two best teams from each of the four pools go through to the quarter finals. Although this normally results in big wins for the larger rugby nations, it can also provide the perfect set up for an upset, and momentous wins for the underdogs.
We have seen a few of these underdogs go on to topple some of the bigger team this year in thrilling matches. The most notable of which is Japan, who statistically were the 3rd best team in their pool, who defeated the supposed best team, Ireland 19-12 on the 28th of September leaving them at the top of their pool. Although it can be said that the Irish did not play to their best standard, it must be noted that the Japanese fought with such spirit and brilliance. This win is made even more special when the last world cup is brought into consideration, as in 2015 Japan beat South Africa 34-32 in the last minute of the game in Brighton’s Amex Stadium. Japan have made a name for themselves beating two Rugby giants during world cup runs and have secured themselves a very strong position to advance out of the pool stages this year. 2019 could be the furthest the Japanese have achieved during the competition, and it would be made all the more special to do this at home.
Another shocking David beating Goliath match was between Uruguay and Fiji. In this match, Fiji who are a well-respected nation in the rugby world, were toppled by the South Americans 27-30 in a thrilling game to secure their first win in a Rugby World Cup in 16 years. The Uruguayan’s battered the early storm that the much larger Fijians put to them, however, using their skill and speed, Uruguay were able to sneak through and the around, eventually building up a lead. No one would have expected the results like this game or the Japanese v Ireland match, and it for this reason that the 2019 Rugby World Cup is shaping up to be the best one yet.
England’s story so far
England were drawn into Pool C with France, Argentina, Tonga and the USA. The ‘Red Roses’ won the first three games they have played, meaning they are three wins out of three games; all with bonus points. For England fans, their journey so far looks very promising, as there has been some outstanding performances, and they have already secured their place into the quarter finals.
England opened their competition against Tonga with a mediocre performance to secure a 35-3 win. It was not an easy game for the English; the Tongan’s had some much ball carriers and defensive hits however it was made even harder by England’s inaccuracy in attack and high penalty count. Despite this, England still pulled together and brought back a bonus point win, which gave them good momentum to start off the competition. Manu Tuilagi proved to be an unstoppable force as he run riot through the Tongan back line, smashing over for two first half tries.
The next team that England faced was the USA. England showed they have learnt from their mistakes in their previous match and were much more clinical during this game, with a drastically reduced penalty count and handling errors. England outperformed the American’s in almost every aspect of the game; they were simply no match for the ‘Red Roses’. The final score was 45-7.
England’s third match was their hardest of the tournament so far, as they took on Argentina. England played with much more focus and composure seen in their first two games and performed at a level the team and supporters alike are very happy to see them at. Although aided by an early red card against Argentina, the Red Roses managed the game well and gained their 3rd bonus point win in a row at 39-10.
England’s next game is their final of the Pool Stages against France. The winner of this game will become top of Pool C and give themselves a much more favourable position to enter the knock out stages.
The 2019 Rugby World Cup has delivered to fans some fantastic games and unforgettable moments, and the pool stages are not finished. This year’s tournament is poised to be its greatest show yet, as the competition is really heating up.
Who will be crowned the winner? The uncertainty of this answer has been gluing rugby fans to their screens for the last 2 weeks. We shall find out on the Nov 2nd.