Rugby World Cup France 2007

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Saturday, September 08, 2007

Argentina defeated France in a surprising opening match

Argentina reached a glorious result in the most important Rugby Tournament. Not since the French humbled the All Blacks in a 1999 semi-final have the global titles seen a more unlikely result, and never has a boilover spread such widespread gloom through a nation staging the event.

Indeed, the shockwaves from the Pumas' 17-12 triumph in Paris reverberated well beyond the boundaries of their Pool D grouping, with a chance the best four sides in the world - New Zealand, Australia, France and South Africa - could be clumped in the same side of the draw from the quarter-final stages.

But Wallabies coach John Connolly viewed the horror scenario as a distinct possibility.

However, last night he quickly dismissed any suggestion the Australians might try to manufacture an easier path to the final by throwing their game against Wales at Millennium Stadium on Saturday night.

"We just wouldn't do it, no way at all," he admitted. "That's not the mentality of sport."

The Argentina got the victory, however, has rocked several heavyweight title contenders.

If the Pumas can repeat the effort and defeat Ireland on September 30 - after seeing off minnows Namibia and Georgia - they will claim the first place in their pool.

Unfortunately for France, that would leave them, if they also defeat the Irish, in second place and facing a certain quarter-final showdown with the All Blacks.

The Wallabies, if they top Pool B, will face either England or South Africa in the quarters and the All Blacks or their conquerors in a semi-final.

England, Wales, Scotland and Argentina would be most likely to come through the other half, with the Pumas the highest ranked of the quartet at No.6 on the International Rugby Board rankings.

Ireland, ranked fifth, loom as the wildcard, with its group results against France and Argentina to determine the final Pool D standings.

It's interesting to notice that Argentina stayed within its limits on opening night to topple a French side tipped pre-tournament to emerge as the major title threat to odds-on favourite New Zealand.

The Pumas, with a physical and hard-working pack, combined that muscle with a rush defence to knock the home side out of rhythm as 79,312 Stade de France faithful watched in ever deepening disappointment.

We can conclude that for a full-strength France, staring at an early exit if defeated by Ireland, the first-up failure was devastating.

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