Category Archives: William Webb-Ellis Cup

England, Wales eye finals

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Braves Blossoms lost their steam in their quarterfinals against South Africa. Photo: NikkeiAsia

In spite of the last minute effort by the Welsh to comeback and snatch a win from France; the Red Dragons look the better contender to advance to the finals against England in a fortnight.

Watching the game on television last night, the French had done enough to win the match but didn’t have the killer punch to amass enough points to keep the margin clear from the grasp of the Six Nations champion, Wales.

But the unlucky red card on French lock Sebastien Vahaamahina for smashing his elbow into the face of flanker Aaron Wainwright in a needless moment of foul play weakened Les Bleus playing the last half-hour with 14 men.

The nine-point margin was chewed up by a penalty and a converted try which pushed Wales 20-19 to pip the French on full time.

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The unleashing of Bok’s halfback Faf de Clerk’s box kicks softened the attack from the Brave Blossoms. Photo: World Rugby

The last quarterfinal between unheralded hosts Japan and South Africa was a tussle of strength and strategy with the Springboks’ so simple and decisive.

Playing to their strength in the height with tons of high balls, the Boks cut off the successful ground assaults that the Japanese had utilised in their pool matches especially against Ireland and Scotland.

The tackling by the South Africans was increased and the effective ploy in the elimination of the speed and power in the two wideouts Kenki Fukuoka and Kotaro Matsushima, sometimes gang tackling by the heavier Boks’ defenders.

The intensive running game by the Brave Blossoms in their last match against the Scots had sapped the strength of the forwards, especially the loose forwards who had seemingly had endless supply of energy.

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Kiwis eying a three-peat. Photo: World Rugby

Pivot Yu Tamura who had amassed a total of 51 points; had an off day with his attacks and bag of options in pinpoint cross and grubber kicks which had softened the sharpness of attacks witnessed during the pool games.

The open show of emotions by the Japanese in weeping with the loss by both players and fans has characterised the 2019 Rugby World Cup as a tournament that gave freedom for expression for men to publicly weep.

Incidently, the weeping by the players and fans were not confined to the quarterfinal loss but were witnessed in the victories over tier one nations Ireland and Scotland in the pool matches.

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The Red Dragons score a try against Les Bleus. Photo: Independent

England are beginning to show glimpses of their armory with the dispatching of Australia 40-16 in the earlier quarterfinals on Saturday and the Kiwis dismissed Ireland with a 46-14 scoreline.

England is the only team that can match New Zealand with brute strength and swiftness of play so the winners of the first semi-final this Saturday may very well walk away with the spoils, the Webb-Ellis Cup.

Wales have the size and strength to match the Springboks in the second semi-final but both teams currently don’t have the firepower and defence to match the first semi-finalist opponents.

England looks like the form team to win a second title.

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England left wing Johny May scored the first try against the Wallabies. Photo: BBC

 

 

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Filed under 2019 Rugby World Cup, All Blacks, England, Focus on rwc, Rugby World Cup, South Africa, Springboks, Wales, William Webb-Ellis Cup

Cavubati, Nakarawa to play locks in RWC opener

The pairing of Tevita Cavubati and Leone Nakarawa as locks for the opener against Australia is a foregone conclusion after manning those berths towards the end part of the Pacific Nations Cup and Tonga in the Pasifika challenge in Auckland.

Flying Fijians lock Tevita Cavubati reacts after Fiji scored a try against Wales in the 2015 RWC. Photo: Stuff

Cavubati who was rested in the Maori series and the match against the Brave Blossoms at the Kamaishi Recovery Memorial Stadium came back strongly off the bench against Canada; then started with the number four jumper against Samoa in the last PNC match; and Tonga at Eden Park.

The Tubou native’s presence was immense against the Samoans holding his own with Nakarawa in the set pieces and displayed strong straight running with ball in hand. He played well against the Tongans with outstanding lineout abilities and mixing it with the hard-nosed Ikale Tahi Tongans in the hard and rough tumbles.

Nakarawa whose abilities in open field have won himself European and international club titles for several years in the forwards department and his offloads comes at all angles for supporting players to receive the ball at top speed. His outstanding contribution in the set pieces have set him apart where he will play a crucial role.

2015 Rugby World Cup starter 33-year-old Apisalome Ratuniyarawa has been sidelined for a few matches but can still play when needed off the bench.

New find lock forward Tevita Ratuva, 24, has fresh legs and the aerial skills at top speed which he showed coming off the bench in the PNC could be utilized in end of the play place kicks to the end zone.

Cavubati and Nakarawa who started and played well in the 21-14 defeat of France at Paris last November have a wealth of experience and will exude confidence which the team needs a lot of in the opening Rugby World Cup match.

Nakarawa has a wealth of experience.

The front row who will be named tomorrow; with a stipulation by World Rugby for team names to be announced at least 48 hours before kickoff; will see Manasa Saulo and Campese Ma’afu as props with Sam Matavesi as the hooker. 30-year-old Saulo has a wealth of experience as the lead commodity for the revival of the Fijian scrums but has aged considerably with the younger proponents Peni Ravai Kovekalou and Lee-roy Atalifo giving strong challenges to start.

Ma’afu, 34, brings a big grunt and competitive edge to the forwards but has been strongly competing for the number three jumper with hardworking 23-year-old Eroni Mawi. Mawi who has caught up with the game won two turnovers against France last November coming off the bench.

Matavesi has been a new revelation for the Flying Fijians bringing a strong work ethic and feistiness to the table and is willing to mix it with the bigger opposition when the chips are down. Mesu Dolokoto and Tuvere Vugakoto bring their own array of skills if called up to start or play off the bench.

The Pacific opponents Australia who have won two RWC titles in 1991 and 1999 have one of the best tight fives in the globe and will come into the game with confidence and expectation to roll Fiji over.

For Fiji to win and set the tone for a Japanese tournament success; the set pieces have to be spot on and if not emulate, improve on the 100 percent set piece ball retention in the 2015 version in the British Isles.

Compete for the ball during an Aussie breakdown and shut out the Australians by resourcing the Fijian ball carrier with plenty of support at the whiff of a breakdown.

Fiji knows what it takes to beat the Aussies and they have enough firepower to overcome them by at least 20 points.

Loose head prop Eroni Mawi won two turnovers against France last November coming off the bench. Photo: Fiji Rugby Union

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Filed under 2019 Rugby World Cup, Fiji, Flying Fijians, Focus on rwc, Japan, Opinion, Rugby World Cup, Wallabies, William Webb-Ellis Cup

Eden Park Dress Rehearsal

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Loose forward Semi Kunatani is gang tackled by Manu Samoa players in the final PNC match in Suva. Photo: Zoom Fiji

The dress rehearsal at Eden Park in Auckland on August 31 will be the final stretch for the Flying Fijians to test their set pieces in the match against a strong Ikale Tahi Tongan side.

The inconsistencies in the lineouts and the scrums throughout the past five matches; two Maori and three Pacific Nations Cup games, will finally provide an indication of how the team will fare in the Rugby World Cup.

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Filed under Fiji, Flying Fijians, Manu Samoa, Maori All Blacks, Pacific Nations Cup, Rugby World Cup, Samoa, Tonga, William Webb-Ellis Cup

Flying Fijians outclass Maori

The New Zealand Māori rugby team have lost for just the second time in the past 16 years, outclassed by Fiji in Suva on Saturday in the first match of their two-game series.

Inside centre Lepani Botia attacks against the Maori All Blacks. Photo: Fiji Sun

Billed as a chance for some of those overlooked for the All Blacks squad to prove something of a point, it instead turned into a fixture to forget for the visitors, as an energised and spirited home side put them away 27-10 at ANZ Stadium, for their first win over them in 62 years.

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Filed under Fiji, Flying Fijians, Maori All Blacks, New Zealand, Rugby World Cup, Super 15, William Webb-Ellis Cup

Botia, Nayacalevu pairing to succeed

The new pairing of a midfield combination of Lepani Botia and Waisea Nayacalevu for the Flying Fijians opening match against the New Zealand Maoris is bold.
Bold in the sense that French overcomers Jale Vatubua and Semi Radradra have been rested with media reports claiming injury.
It is a breath of fresh air and shows the depth of resources in the squad and the willingness of coach John McKee to test new combinations. Continue reading

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Filed under Fiji, Flying Fijians, Flying Fijians coach, Focus on rwc, French Club Rugby, Maori All Blacks, New Zealand, Pacific Nationas Cup, Rugby World Cup, Top 14, William Webb-Ellis Cup, World Rugby Pacific Nations Cup

Motivated to help 2019 edition

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The William Webb-Ellis Cup will be up for grabs at the Japanese showcase: Planet Rugby

The 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan is about two months away and Flying Fijians coach John McKee has a plateful deciding who will make the final squad to the Land of the Rising Sun plus the team to face the Maori All Blacks on Saturday in Suva. Continue reading

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Filed under Fiji, Fiji Rugby Union, Focus on rwc, International, Japan, John McKee, Maori All Blacks, New Zealand, Pacific Nations Cup, Rugby World Cup, RWC, Top 14, William Webb-Ellis Cup, World Rugby Pacific Nations Cup

Tameifuna changes his mind

 

Ben bides time to make up his mind to go black or red. Photo: Skysports

Ben bides time to make up his mind to go black or red. Photo: Skysports

Chiefs prop Ben Tameifuna has changed his mind about playing for Tonga and now hopes to play for New Zealand instead.

Tameifuna, who was in the All Blacks training squad in 2012, was originally selected for Tonga’s end of year tour which consists of away Tests against Georgia, the United States and Scotland.

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Filed under All Blacks, England 2015, Focus on rwc, Pacific Islanders, Super Rugby, Tonga, William Webb-Ellis Cup