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David does RWC – Days 1 + 2

The 2011 Rugby World Cup is under way in New Zealand, and we’ve sent our Chief Rugby Analyst David Shipton along to cover the entire tournament for us (well… not really. He lives there.)

Wow what a start to the Rugby World Cup. I can tell you that the whole of New Zealand (I know it’s not a lot really) are fully behind this tournament. The excitement levels have been hitting fever pitch, and expectations will be high for all the teams in the tournament. Let’s start right at the beginning.

 

 

Opening Ceremony

The build up for this really started at midday in Auckland with crowds building up from then to get a glimpse of the action. Around 200,000 people had lined the streets in the waterfront when things began to swing into action. A Waka (traditional Maori boat) set off to signal the opening journey of the World Cup.The atmosphere in the crowd was amazing as the procession hit land, with hakas going and bands playing.

Auckland was going off.

The opening ceremony began with a countdown in spectacular fashion with spectators using their cell phones to light up the stadium. This ceremony took us through the journey of New Zealand, with a heavy Maori influence. It moved into a game of rugby whereby a child dressed in red and black (Canterbury colours, as they don’t have any games due to the earthquakes). Jonah Lomu came out to rousing applause before NZ Prime Minister John Key spoke. Then the big moment came with IRB Chairmen Bernard Lapasse officially opening the Rugby World Cup for 2011. A massive fireworks display came (the biggest in NZ ever).

 

Games

The opening game between Tonga and New Zealand occurred straight after the opening ceremony, with an expectant crowd of 60,000 watching on. Tonga was well supported with Auckland being host to the greatest numbers of islanders. Israel Dagg had the honour of scoring the first try, whilst Dan Carter took the honour of scoring the first points. The All Blacks played well in the first spell, scoring some incredible tries whilst matching the Tongans physicality. They led 29 – 0 at the break, and this seemed to get to them in the second spell as they were not nearly as ruthless, missing several scoring opportunities. Tonga played well and managed to score a try, much to the crowds delight. Overall, NZ won easily by 41 – 10 but will not be pleased by the way the match went.

Romania almost caused a great upset when they took on Scotland, with the Oaks storming to a 24 – 21 point lead with 10 minutes remaining. They really had played out of their skins and based their game around a huge effort from their forward pack. Scotland eventually managed to score a couple of late tries to take the game 34 – 24, but the Romanians had the crowd on their sides.

Fiji came into their game against Namibia as favourites, but it was the Namibians as the underdogs who surprised. Although the eventual score was a bit of a blowout (49 – 25), the Fijians ran out of steam badly and let a determined Namibian outfit show that they can still be competitive. Great tries were scored by both teams, as both used the width of the field well in good conditions.

Japan came within a whisker of leading against France. After trailing 25 – 11 at the break, the Brave Blossoms withstood several raids at their line before reducing the gap to just 4 points with a shock try. It could have been more had they taken several of their opportunities they had presented to them. France though, to their credit, finished really well by solid defence and great counter attacking rugby. This will be remembered though, for the Japanese effort.

England managed to overcome a stubborn and dogged performance from Argentina to somehow get out of jail. The Pumas were mere minutes away from winning a tight game, but the English managed to score a late converted try and penalty to take the game 13 – 9. The Pumas played with passion and were fired up for the occasion, and forced the English into making mistakes that they are not used to. An intense game played in front of a capacity new stadium made for an awesome atmosphere.

That is it for day 1 and 2. We await more awesome games, and maybe an upset or two along the way!!

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  1. Craig
    September 12, 2011 at 11:23 am

    Very good David, keen to here what you say about “that penalty kick”

  2. September 13, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    Thanks Craig. Check out David does RWC – Day three. Its in there with a youtube video

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