Incredibly, we are already five days into RWC 2015 and what an explosive start it’s been!
England’s last-gasp bonus-point try against Fiji on Friday could prove to be vital, as Australia failed to win a bonus point against the same opposition earlier today. Wales of course have yet to play all three of those teams, our only outing so far being a rather laboured 54-9 victory over Uruguay. I made it into Cardiff to soak up the atmosphere, and also called around to see the giant rugby ball in the castle wall (above!)
I can’t help but feel Wales haven’t clicked yet. I felt the same during the warm-up games. It feels like the team are tired from what was a gruelling pre-season. Could this be partly to blame for the injury situation in the Wales camp? Cory Allen, man-of-the-match for Sunday’s game, is the latest casualty, limping off the field – and indeed out of the tournament – with a hamstring injury. It goes without saying, but Saturday’s game against England is absolutely huge. It’s time to raise our game, because I feel we haven’t got out of third gear.
England’s team sheet for the match against Wales makes for intriguing reading. Owen Farrell is a physical force, but there’s no doubting George Ford is the in-form fly-half in England at the moment. Sam Burgess will undoubtedly make his presence known, lining up against Jamie Roberts – expect a hugely physical battle in the midfield! I feel the combination of Roberts and Scott Williams in the centres could be crucial in this game. The battle of the back-row forwards should also be one of epic proportions! Personally, I’d love to see Warburton, Tipuric and Faletau start – this was such an effective combination against England in the 2013 Six Nations.
The opening weekend of fixtures were terrific, but special mention has to go to Japan for defeating South Africa for the first time in their history, and winning only their second World Cup match in the process. The tension of the last few minutes were almost unbearable, and Japan’s decision to play for a try – and a win – instead of kick a penalty for a draw, was sheer drama. Moments like this is why we love sport, and games like this one show rugby at its absolute best. The atmosphere looked amazing! I wish I was in Brighton for those celebrations! Seeing just how much this victory meant to the team and the fans was awesome. Japan certainly made a few headlines in causing the first major upset of the tournament. Hopefully we’ll see a few more games like this one in the coming weeks!