Posted by: Gerry | October 1, 2007

Who To Support Now?

Now that Ireland are out, I have a surplus of support to offer. Granted it won’t be as passionate as it would be if Ireland were still in the reckoning, but it’s support nonetheless and it has to go somewhere.

Who should be the beneficiary of this support? Eight teams remain in the competition – South Africa, England, Australia, Fiji, New Zealand, Scotland, Argentina and France. From a neighbourly perspective, perhaps I should offer it to England or Scotland, but seeing as both of them are going to be on their way home after next weekend, it’s probably not worth my while. Similarly Fiji, as the plucky underdogs, but again they have no hope of getting past South Africa.

Maybe I should support France. I used to live there after all, and have a great fondness for several things about that great country. However, their rugby is not one of those things, and the perennial hiding we get from them doesn’t endear me to Les Bleus. Anyway, the All Blacks are going to kick their arses in Cardiff next weekend, and it couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of blokes.

So that leaves the Tri-Nations and Argentina. I can’t support the South African team. I just don’t like them. Sorry. I wouldn’t like to see Australia win the tournament either, as that would be their third World Cup win, and as a rugby nation, they’re not that good.

Argentina look odds-on to get to the semis, where they would come up against South Africa. Taking a romantic view of the game, for Argentina to win that one would be fantastic, as they haven’t been given a fair crack of the whip by the rest of the rugby world. If they got to the final, it would be a irresistible wake-up call to the IRB, Tri-Nations and Six Nations to invite Argentina to join an annual international tournament.

So, the last name in the pot belongs to the pre-tournament favourites – New Zealand. I like New Zealand a lot as a country, and have many good friends from there. A single World Cup title, won in the inaugural tournament, on home soil twenty years ago does not reflect with any accuracy New Zealand’s rightful place in world rugby’s pecking order. They deserve to win and I hope they do.

So, dear readers, where will your support find a home for the rest of the tournament?

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Responses

  1. simple – argentina … quality side whose tails are up

  2. It has to be Fiji – Total underdogs of course, but that’s the romantic in me. Alas, they are almost certainly going out against the Boks.

    After that, I would have to agree with Rambling Man. Argentina deserve a crack at the title, so to speak, and an excellent run by them would be the best for rugby in general.

  3. I would go for Argentina, they wiped Ireland, may at least win. What do you think its Argentina´s strenght? kinda like the way they play…

  4. My support wont go anywhere, it sticks with Argentina.
    Gazadcoombs, Pumas strength comes from the amateur spirit that still lives in the hearts of these players.
    According to recent events this may sound obvious, but professionalism impacts poorly without heart.

  5. In the quarters I’m cheering on Argentina, England, Fiji and France. But for the title it has to be Argentina.

    Although I think that NZ will probably win.

  6. Hello friends from Ireland, Im from Argentina and ex rugby player, sorry for my poor english. You are a great nation, don´t forget your roots, you have a “natural spirit” for this game and will change this present. Thanks for supporting Argentina in the next steps of WRC. Everybody in Argentina knew that Pumas had a great respect for Ireland and anyone could win. We are very happy of our team but I don´t think we have to join the Six Nations, we need more structure and maintain this performance through time.
    The finals words of our anthem says: …” or we all swear with glory to die!!…” and thats the way they get into the game. I send to you the best wishes.

  7. There are quite a few teams I’d like to see to do well now for all sorts of reasons

    Fiji – the underdogs’ underdogs

    England – would be a great story if they go from objects of utter derision to, say, semi-finalists, proving that nobody knows anything about nothing

    France – best chance of salvaging the reputation of the six nations

    Argentina – an intoxicating mix of conviction, brio and skill

    Scotland – because ‘Flower’ reminds me of Big Country

  8. definately argentina

  9. Came here & began reading the post intending to plead my cause as a Wallabies fan – but was saddened to see that it’s a lost cause already.

    I take a lil’ bit of umbrage to the statement re. Australia “…and as a rugby nation, they’re not that good.”
    Really? Do I detect more than a little bit of bitterness in that?
    You don’t want to see Australia win a third cup & as a nation they’re not that good… which is it?

    And a nation that time, and time again, is ready to play when it matters most. That despite massive upheaval 18 months ago, and despite having what is really a very small rugby-playing-population to draw on (Union has a pretty small following in Australia), they’re there – at the top levels – pretty much every world cup… you dislike them for that?

    However… the bit that made me laugh was when after all the waxing lyrical about underdogs et al, you indicated that you were leaning towards supporting the All Blacks… man… hop on that bandwagon.
    😛

  10. withmalice

    Maybe you misinterpreted what I wrote. Taking that little snippet you quote in isolation, and omitting the emphasis I deliberately put in, puts what I wrote completely out of context. The full quote (with extra emphasis added, for the purpose of clarity) was:

    I wouldn’t like to see Australia win the tournament either, as that would be their third World Cup win, and as a rugby nation, they’re not that good.

    What I meant was that in the overall scheme of things Australia would have to be recognised as the undisputed number one world power in rugby, by virtue of the fact that they would have bagged three of the six world cup titles on offer since the tournament began twenty years ago. In my opinion, doesn’t reflect their true standing but that’s not to say that they aren’t a great side. Of course they are.

    Why would I like to see New Zealand win? Because their haul of World Cup titles falls far short of what they should have won by now, given their stature on the world stage. I really shouldn’t support them for a number of reasons. In the 102 years since the first Test match between Ireland and New Zealand, we have managed to beat them precisely zero times. The only victory an Irish side ever put on the All Blacks was Munster in 1978. There was also the incident during the Lions Tour of 2005, when Tana Umaga and Kevan Mealamu almost paralysed Brian O’Driscoll. But that’s all in the past.

    If World Cups had been won according to relative consistency over the last twenty years, then New Zealand would probably have won two titles by now, with Australia, South Africa, England and France bagging one each.

  11. I think people should be supporting Scotland first – they are our closet neighbours with strong cultural ties. They’re progression is good for the Magners League and 6 Nations.

    France also are worthy of support. They have been good hosts and a win against NZ would lift the Northeern Hemisphere and the 6Nations hugely, They also supported us (albeit with a tad of self interest) against Argentina.

    Obviously everyone is saying Argentina and I think that the nation deserves support they are ignored by the big Unions and IRB – they’re progression is good for rugby. However, if they go on that means another 6Nations team goes home. Also I have lost some respect for their players particularly Contepomi after his studpid remarks before the match but particularly Pichot who was far from graceful by basically saying that Ireland (and Wales) are houses of cards and he didn’t respect them. Remember it was the Irish who introduced rugby to Argentina!

  12. Liamin,
    Contepomi and Pichot being somewhat disrespectful???
    You must have it wrong, PLEASE quote.

  13. Contepomi talking about his dislike for Leamy and ROG before the game – very unnecessary before a game. Pichot said after the Ireland match that “Wales and Ireland will have to do some soul searching now. I never really rated them anyway as they are more of marketing ploys”.

    For me it was sad as obv Contepomi plays his rugby in Ireland and I respected Pichot as one of the best scrum halves in the world. I also had much love for Argentina and their rugby and appreciation of the link between irish rugby and Argentinian rugby.

  14. There’s no love lost between O’Gara and Contepomi, and Munster-Leinster matches often turn out to be right old ding-dongs between the two of them.

    In the Heineken Cup semi-final between the sides in 2006, Leamy destroyed Contepomi. He couldn’t get his hands on the ball, without The Rock of Cashel bearing down on him. In nearly all the previews of that match, the pundits had Leinster to win and Contepomi to be the star of the show. Leamy just chewed him up and spat out the husk.

  15. France, because I am french, but Argentina and Fiji gave me shudders. I need vibrations.

  16. Felipe and Pichot never said that before de game, they talked after, and it´s not a secret they don´t like each other. Pichot talking about Wales and Ireland??? house of cards?? I´m watching every interview, notes or comment and never heard that.

  17. House of cards is me paraphrasing. I have seen the quotes of Pichot on the IRFU website and BBC.

  18. AGUSTIN PICHOT –

    “We knew that Ireland would give us a tough time physically. I thought we played really well, a totally all-round game. I think the Irish and the Welsh (who both failed to make the quarter-finals) have a lot of soul searching to do.

    “The economic ramifications for them will be enormous and they will have to do a lot of restructuring in the next four years.

    “I have never held them in high regard, as I always thought they were a marketing ploy. We will not underestimate Scotland, even if we start as favourites.

    “We would never allow ourselves to run onto the pitch believing we were superior to another team. It is always vital to believe that we have to give everything to beat a team like Scotland.

    “Playing for my team is an absolute pleasure, it’s really special. I don’t talk about statistics or how many times I’ve played as captain. It’s an absolute privilege for me and an unbelievable achievement to be part of something like this.”

  19. If these are taken out of context then fine – but seems a little bit ungracious to me.

  20. france – best national anthem left in the tournament. see blog for further thoughts on this critical subject
    fpb
    http://www.pastapaulie.wordpress.com

  21. Hi Liamin,

    Felipe hates ROG for his own reasons and viceversa, but he truly respects Ireland and his people as we all Argentines do, even when they call us Argies.
    About Pichot and the marketing ploy, you have it wrong for sure.
    Agustin was talking about the world rankings, nothing else.
    you can see it here:

    http://www.irishrugby.ie/8684_9186.php?PHPSESSID=c9b9d3d0cabe94fa904e8cce352cb156

    http://worldcup.planet-rugby.com/Story/0,21043,13117_2768084,00.html

    It´s all good baby!!!

  22. I’ve played rugby for Cardenal Newman’s lower divisions (9th to 3rd) some sixty years ago. The Irish brothers, particularly the late Br. Gallagher (then school’s sportsmaster), built an everlasting esprit de corps immune to the pass of time. I can still remember his powerful voice screaming “tackle him low, tackle him low”…

  23. On your response to me… I think you’re missing the entire beauty of the world cup with that mindset. It isn’t about ‘deserves’. And even if NZ doesn’t win it, I don’t think there’s any denying that they are – performance-wise – the #1 nation in the world in rugby….

    But fair’s fair… support who you want.
    Just don’t get romantic about the lesser-lights then tell me you’re going to go for the All Blacks! 😛

  24. withmalice

    Just don’t get romantic about the lesser-lights then tell me you’re going to go for the All Blacks!

    I’m not. I actually stopped short of endorsing Argentina to go all the way. I would like to see them do well, for the sake of the game of rugby in Argentina.

    The only team for which I expressed a wish to win the tournament is New Zealand.

    Read back over the post again, and you will see that I am being entirely consistent.

  25. Wasn’t my intent to get into a slinging match… 😉
    But it was this paragraph:

    “Eight teams remain in the competition – South Africa, England, Australia, Fiji, New Zealand, Scotland, Argentina and France. From a neighbourly perspective, perhaps I should offer it to England or Scotland, but seeing as both of them are going to be on their way home after next weekend, it’s probably not worth my while. Similarly Fiji, as the plucky underdogs, but again they have no hope of getting past South Africa.”

    Just expected a lil’ more post that than “I’m gonna back the overwhelming favourites!”…

    But they probably will win. Still – what would the point of the world cup be if there were never any upsets… which was my point on the beauty of these type of events. It’s not “Best-record-over-the-last-4-years”… it’s who’s best on the day. And I love it.

  26. Well, yes, that’s the whole point of the post, isn’t it? I looked at each team in turn, to see if there was any reason why I should support them. I could have chosen a team on the basis of them being fellow Europeans, or being underdogs, but in the end I didn’t.

    If I’d just written “Well, I’m gonna support the All-Blacks now that Ireland are gone, how’s about you?”, it wouldn’t have made for very interesting reading. 😉

    Back in ’03, I did something similar for the final. Deep down I didn’t want either Australia or England to win, but in the end I went for England, because (a) no Northern Hemishere team had won the World Cup heretofore, (b) I didn’t wasnt Australia to win for the reason I set out in the post above, and (c) an England win would mean that we would have a pop at the World Champions in a regular annual competition. And happily, we were the first to beat them at Twickenham, and never lost to them once during their reign. 🙂

  27. come on guys….british isles stick together (except england) so gota be scotland!!!


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