Rugby World Cup France 2007

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Saturday, September 08, 2007

Latest Results of the Rugby World Cup

England's defence of the Rugby World Cup 2007 got off to a disappointing start today as they scraped past minnows USA 28-10 at the Stade Felix Bollaert, Lens.

Indeed, in a day when their rivals New Zealand eased past Italy 76-14 and Australia hammered Japan 91-3, England were expected to put a marker down for their chances of defending the Webb Ellis trophy.

However, in a lacklustre display, England only managed to score three tries against a USA team which had lost to a Munster second XV in a World Cup warm-up match.

The British team failed to create a great deal in the absence of Jonny Wilkinson, and it took them 35 minutes to score the first try as Jason Robinson latched on to a Mike Catt cross-field kick to go over.

Olly Barkley scored a second try five minutes later after a good break by wing Josh Lewsey to give a respectable half-time score of 21-3.

Things did not get much better for the world champions in the second half and all they managed to muster up was a try from Tom Rees. The Wasps man was one of the few England players to impress and he took a quick tap penalty to drive over the line for a deserved try.

Embarrassingly for England, USA managed to score a try late on as Tongan born forward Matekitonga Moeakiola brushed aside Barkley Lewis Moody to score a try and cap-off a spirited performance by his team.

With the massive clash against South Africa only five days away, England have a lot of work to do and will be praying that star player Wilkinson recovers from injury.

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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Brilliant Opening Ceremony for the most important Rugby Tournament

The Cup fever has begun, and Paris told the world last night that this World Cup will be the most exciting one. With a tremendous show of colour and movements, the Opening Ceremony was displayed before the opening match between the hosts France and Argentina.

Indeed, on a balmy early autumn evening in Paris, the Stade de France was filled with a capacity crowd to see a vividly colourful and frequently bizarre opening ceremony featuring percussionists, dancers, and huge mechanical devices on wheels.

Opening with a field full of drummers beating out powerful rhythms on bright red oil drums, the 80,000 crowd, as well as hundreds of millions watching on TV were treated to a fly past by military jets trailing tricolour smoke of red, white and blue in honor of the hosts.

And the percussionists were then joined on the playing surface by a troupe of dancers dressed in riotously colourful costumes designed to represent the players of the competing nations.

Then on to the field, came actual representatives of the countries involved in the Cup, with scrum-half legend and Western Mail columnist Gareth Edwards appearing on behalf of Wales, alongside dancers, dressed in green colour, marked by large crosses, and with bike helmets apparently perched atop their heads.

I'ts important to notice that with constant camera flashes creating a strobe effect around the stadium, the ceremony reached its climax as the dancers fanned out across the pitch, while among them rolled four huge wheeled machines.

And they gathered in the centre of the pitch, hoisting four dancers into the air to unveil a huge model of the Webb Ellis Cup.

But viewers in Wales were granted just a glimpse of the ceremony, with broadcasters preferring the customary interviews with ex-players and pundits. At less than half an hour in length, it was just a blink of an eye for those used to marathon Olympic curtain-raisers, and ended in plenty of time for what we have all been waiting for – six weeks of the best rugby.