Imagine going into Paddy Power’s the day before the World Cup started, putting €100 on the counter and asking for an accumulator on the following series of events:
– France to lose their opening match to Argentina
– Ireland to fail to progress from Pool D
– The All Blacks to be beaten at the quarter final stage
– England to beat Australia in the quarter final
– France to be knocked out by England
– England to reach the final
Any one of the above on its own would have yielded a tidy profit for that €100 stake, but if you had all of them together, you could be contemplating early retirement this morning.
England’s renaissance continued last night, with another dogged performance that consigned France to the third place play-off. They now face either South Africa or Argentina for a shot at being the first team to successfully defend their world title. Now I would love to see Argentina come through their semi, as there is great rivalry between England and Argentina, although much of it is away from the rugby field. The football world cup of 1986, the Falklands/Las Malvinas, etc., etc. However, I think my head must overrule my heart on this one, as it looks like the South Africans will be too strong for an Argentine side that have performed way beyond all expectations so far.
If it does end up as a rematch of the Pool A decider, then Die Bokke will more than likely have their victory speeches in their back pockets running out onto the pitch next Sunday night. They humiliated England 36-0 on 14 September. But they would do well to remember that this England team were destroyed by France in two matches in the run up to the tournament. (From an irish point of view, it’s also essentially the same team that our lads beat out the gate at Croke Park last February.) An England-South Africa final would be a very different prospect to the pool match.