Who says the Boks will play Australia in the Quarter Finals?

Written by leon. Posted in Rugby World Cup 2011

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Published on September 21, 2011 with No Comments

Since the Australian loss to Ireland over the weekend there has been a lot to say in the SA media about the fact that the Boks will now most probably have to play Australia in the quarter final of the Rugby World Cup. Then they’ll have to go on to win New Zealand and lastly some insignificant Northern Hemisphere team like France or England. (Please let England not get to the final again.) Honestly this is the most likely outcome but remember this is a World Cup and unexpected things happen. Heck, Australia lost to Ireland?

Well lets have a look at Pool C where all the action has now started. Lets ignore Russia and the USA, its safe to say they’ll be bonus point givers to the three top teams in the pool. (I hope…) So that leaves Ireland, Australia and Italy. Currently Australia has played both Italy and Ireland and are sitting in second place on 5 points after losing to Ireland (with a bonus point) and beating Italy (without a bonus point). Assuming they run the USA and Russia rugged I’ll predict them ending up on 15 points at the end of the Pool stages.

Ireland are first on 8 points after two bonus pointless wins against Australia and the USA. Italy are on 5 points after a big win against Russia and the loss to Australia. Now assuming Italy beat the USA and Ireland finish off Russia we’ll have a situation where the last game of the Pool where Ireland and Italy play each other could get very interesting. Going into the game Ireland should be on 13 (8 + 5 from their Russia game) and Italy on 10 or 9 (5 + 5/4 from their USA game). If Italy beat Ireland we can end up in a situation where the final positions in the pool are determined on bonus points, with Australia on 15, Ireland on 14 and Italy on 14 or 13. If Italy manage to beat the Irish and they end up on the same total points, they will go through as the first tie-breaker is the team that won the pool match.

Whats the chance Italy will beat Ireland you might ask. After all, Ireland did beat Australia. Well, in the history of games between the sides Italy have won on 3 occasions. These are all relatively long ago but in their most recent match-up during this year’s Six Nations Championship Ireland won by a slight 13 – 11 only by virtue of a last minute drop goal. This, just after Italy missed a conversion that would have at least guaranteed a draw. Italy also kept the Aussies in check for 40 mins in their first pool game and were destructive against the Russians. Especially the forwards, suggesting the Irish pack might struggle to have the dominance they had over the Aussies.

It probably is wishful thinking but we might still see Australia topping Pool C, with Italy securing second spot with an elusive but not completely impossible win over Ireland. That’ll see the Boks have a quarter final against Italy and Wales having to deal with Australia. Of course all of this assuming the Boks beat Samoa and Wales don’t repeat their loss to Fiji from 4 years ago…

I love World Cups, everything seems so scripted, but it never goes to plan!

 

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