Thursday, September 17, 2015

Pool D: Preview

The cliche surrounding the dual personality France is one of the truest in rugby. Capable of beating anyone on their day, they can also look incredibly incompetent at times. World Cup moments swing between fantastic wins against the All Blacks and a defeat against Tonga. However, they are perpetually contenders for the Webb Ellis Cup and only a fool would write them off this time.
 
Expect a straight shoot out between them and Ireland for the top spot with whoever finishes second likely to have to play New Zealand in the quarters. Ireland have won back to back Six Nations championships but lost their last two games to England and Wales.
 
Italy will believe they could have a say in this pool and if they play to the beat of their ability they may do. Canada and Romania are unlikely to have any such impact as Canada's struggling scrum and Romania's lack of quality will leave them battling it out for fourth place.
Ireland
Coach:                  Joe Schmidt
Captain:                Paul O’Connell
Most Valuable Player:  Ireland will pray they can keep Johnny Sexton fit if they are to compete as we know they can. Sexton control and understanding of the game is among the best in the world and he will be vital to the Irish cause.
Most Exciting: Irish winger Tommy Bowe as far from his usually faultless self against England. Expect this to drive him on during the tournament and tries to not be far behind.
 
France
Coach:                  Phillipe Saint-Andre
Captain:                Thierry Dusatoir
Most Valuable Player:   Captain Thierry Dusatoir is the kind of player coaches dream of. Equally as happy doing the donkey work as he is running with thoroughbreds. He set a world record in 2007 with the 38 tackles a made against the All Blacks; a game he also scored s try in. He was also man of the match in the final 4 years ago.
Most Exciting: Clermont centre Wesley Fofana has become a favourite for many rugby fans even if he is lacking a little a little form. If Fofana can find his touch again, he is able to produce the kind of magic that would impress Penn and Teller.
 
Italy
Coach:                  Jacques Brunel
Captain:                Sergio Parisse
Most Valuable Player: When Sergio Parisse plays for Italy, it is akin to Bugs Bunny playing baseball. Parisse covers every blade of grass and has more influence than anyone on the pitch. The Italians will be praying he is fit.
Most Exciting: If given ball in space, Michele Campagnaro has the ability to be devastating. He's also a solid defender which Italy may need.
 
Canada
Coach:                  Kieran Crowley
Captain:                Tyler Ardron
Most Valuable Player: If Jamie Cudmore is not the most valuable, then certainly the toughest. His tangle with Paul O'Connell is infamous.
Most Exciting: The pace of DTH van der Merwe could cause defences a few problems and he seems to have a knack of being on the right place and the right time.
 
Romania
Coach:                  Lynn Howells
Captain:                Mihai Macovei
Most Valuable Player: Big running backrow Ovidiu Tonita is at his fifth World Cup and will be expected to lead from the front for the Mighty Oaks.
Most Exciting: Still a teenager when he earned his first cap, Catalin Fercu was the nation's top try scorer by 26. Fercu would likely have been an household name were it not for his fear of flying. If Romania can get the ball to him, he can do damage.
 

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