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The “Old Firm” and a touch of Blarney?

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Original Content, RWC 2015, Springboks on 15 Oct 2015 at 11:08
Tagged with : , , ,

It’s been a rather interesting World Cup tournament so far, with a fair few games that haven’t gone completely to plan during the pool phases. South Africa’s shock loss to Japan, of course, has to count as the biggest upset in the history of the tournament (if not rugby itself) and it would be hard for anything to top that, but the so-called “minnow nations” have certainly played their part in an entertaining spectacle so far.

Despite a number of matches in which less-fancied teams have punched above their weight, there have been few genuine upsets and if we look at the quarter-final match ups, it’s hard to argue that the face of the global game has changed much at all in the four years since the last World Cup. Substitute England for Scotland and you’ll have exactly the same teams in the last eight this year as we had in 2011. Talking about England, well – theirs has been a rather sad capitulation this year, but in a pool as tough as theirs, there was always going to be a big name casualty. Looking at the bigger picture and the eight sides that did qualify, it’s hard to argue that the best teams aren’t in the mix.

So what should we expect from this weekend’s quarter-final encounters? Generally, we’d be wise not to stray too far from what the bookies think and Betway sees a clear winner in three of the match ups (with the fourth somewhat harder to call). We have a pretty strange quirk this year in that each of the four contests pits a southern Hemisphere team against a Northern one and three of those Southern sides, New Zealand, Australia and South Africa, are highly favoured to progress. The Tri-Nations “Old Firm” have won six of the seven World Cups to date and appear to be hitting form at the right time. According to the latest odds I’ve seen, Wales are the most likely source of an upset in that equation, but are given only a 1-to-3 chance of beating the Springboks. France (1-5) and Scotland (1-10) seemingly don’t stand a chance.

Rugby Championship new boys, Argentina, however, appear the most likely of the Southern Hemisphere teams to succumb to the northern challenge, rated just slight (15-8) favourites to beat Ireland, who have clearly been the best of the Six Nations teams in this competition. Call me sentimental (or maybe it’s my Irish blood) but I would absolutely love it if the men from the Emerald Isle could upset the applecart and prove that their is life indeed in the Northern Hemisphere game. What do you think? Will it be an all-Southern affair in the semi-finals, or will the Irish give us one last fairytale result?


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