We’re all aware of the Irish team for next weekend by now, even if we are having a bit of difficulty getting our heads around Eddie’s motivations for his choices.
There was action in our group this evening, when Argentina took on our next opponents, Georgia. (RWC News.) It was beginning to look like the Georgians were going to do us a big favour by shutting the Argentineans out as they tried to get a fourth try, but score they did, right on the death to gain the bonus point. I think it’s a bit tough on the Georgians, who must now turn around and face another of the group’s big teams just four days after their last match.
There was lots of team news in preparation for the next round of matches between now and Sunday. The All Blacks have made 11 changes for their, ahem, crunch match against Portugal on Saturday. (TVNZ).
Brian Ashton announced his England team for their pool-top decider against South Africa next Friday night (RWC News). He’s been forced to make one changer to that so far, with captain Phil Vickery banned for two matches after a citing commission found him guilty of tripping USA Eagles centre Paul Emerick. (RTE). Emerick himself has been banned for five matches (Planet Rugby) after being found guilty of a dangerous tackle on out-half Olly Barkley, who in turn is a doubt to start against the Boks after injuring himself in training. (RWC News) Matt Stevens will take Vickery’s place in the starting lineup, but Ashton hasn’t ruled out Barkley’s participation in the match yet.
South Africa aren’t without their woes either. Jake White announced the 22-man squad today (RWC News). and was forced to leave out centre Jean de Villiers, who tore his left bicep in the win over Samoa on Sunday. (Ouch!) (TVNZ). He has however included flanker Schalk Burger in the squad, even though Burger has been cited for a dangerous tackle on the Samoan scrum-half. (RWC News).
Pierre Berbizier has made six changes to the team that was comprehensively defeated by New Zealand on Saturday. (RWC News).