Rugby World Cup favourites
It's the big one, it's the event the whole world is being waiting for
the Rugby World Cup 2011 which kicks off on September 9. The big four in
this years edition are New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and England
and they would be certainly the teams to look out for.The team previews
are as follows.
All Blacks cup to lose
The pre tournament favourites and the most popular team,the All
blacks had some hiccups in the Tri Nations after a hammering by the
South Africans and a tense Final loss against Wallabies.The All Blacks
do have the home advantage here, but are known for being big tournament
chokers. How they haven't dominated the World Cup history books after
the 1987 World Cup is a mystery despite being the prefect team with
size,speed,skill and stamina. Their key players are Richie McCaw and Dan
Carter without any shadow of a doubt. They are still the team to beat,
and they will get confidence boosting wins under their belt in the pool
stage, making them a threat.
Englandís Simon Shaw plays with the ball during the Captainís
Run training session at Otago stadium in Dunedin, on September
9, 2011. AFP
Coach Graham Henry has picked a side with experience, but has left
out their speedy Winger Sitiveni Sivivatu, who is a prolific try scorer
That speaks volumes about the talent which is in their squad. Will we
see a big bounce back from New Zealand, or has their confidence been
hurt badly by the Tri Nations losses?
New Zealand are suddenly a team under more pressure than they were
ahead of the 2011 Rugby World Cup as host nation. Everyone expects the
All Blacks, who are still the best team in the world, to deliver win
after win after win. But they have picked up the label of chokers for a
reason, and it has been because they fear failure so much. It is more of
a mental thing than any question over their abilities.
The thing for New Zealand here, is using the pool matches in the
right way, taking them one match at a time for team building confidence
but their only real challenge will come from France in the group stages.
Still will be the team to beat.
Wallabies, the in form warriors
The Wallabies are certainly in superb form and would provide the All
Blacks with tough competition with their big match capabilities and
methodical way of play. They are the best outright value. Australia just
won the Tri Nations, beating rivals New Zealand in the deciding match, a
huge triumph for them. Australia simply pounded away until they got
their break through, played without too much caution and looked a very
However, just as important was the overlooked fact that they also
beat a full strength South Africa in Durban, something the All Blacks
couldn't do. Australia are not a complete side at the moment, they
really don't have a world class goal kicker, which may hurt them at some
point in the tournament. Still, they are definitely a side which is
starting to gel together the more games they get under their match, and
they seem pretty adaptable and versatile.When the Wallabies are in full
flow they are a real treat to the eyes and if they maintain the high
intensity and attack,they would be unstoppable.
Springboks, the defending champs
The Springboks pretty much sacrificed the Tri Nations for a shot at
the World Cup. The defending champions sent a weak squad to face New
Zealand and Australia away from home, but after suffering defeat with a
full strength side to the Aussie back on home turf, they put in a barn
storming performance to beat the All Blacks. This is an experienced
South Africa side and they will menace a lot of teams with their sheer
power and size with their huge pack.Their key players should be fresher
after skipping the Tri Nations.
They are a great tournament side, and know how to expertly lock the
ball in the forwards to stifle opponents out of the game. They are one
of the most powerful packs and they will punish a lot of teams from set
plays, especially line outs.The World number three side are known to
give their best in big matches and a solid performance by their backs
would be a great incentive for them.
England - the side to look out for
Martin Johnson's men have genuinely played their way into contention
for victory at the 2011 Rugby World Cup.They have a fully fit squad with
a great blend of youth and experience. They have received news that
captain Lewis Moody has recovered from his knee injury and will be ready
for England's opener against Argentina on September 10th.
The clinical finishing of England's backs is a bit of a question mark
for them, but Tuilagi really could be the big, not so secret weapon
which they can unleash. England have tried to adopt more of an open
style, more of a running game, because that is the direction to where
the Southern Hemisphere has taken the game. England have had to become
more mobile, and they are. Up front, England have a great versatility
about their forwards, and should be able to add that extra dimension.
How far England go, will completely depend on their creativity in the
backs, which does look a little limited. They have injections of pace
with Chris Ashton, Ben Foden and Tuilagi, but will the system allow them
to make those telling runs but do England have the killer punch is the