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Our RWC expectations once again proved to be too high

(World Cup 2019 will be remembered for the performances of the hosts)

By Frank Quinn
WHAT is it that makes the RWC the preserve of the super rugby Southern Hemisphere (Southern Hemisphere 8: New Zealand 3, South Africa 3, Australia 2. Northern Hemisphere 1 – England ?
The North does not seem to be learning or catching up in spite of beating some of these countries in between the RWC cycle. Maybe there is not much concern in view of the Six Nations financial success in the Northern Hemisphere in addition to the European Cup.
The RWC every four years is of limited financial benefit to the participating countries because it eliminates the lucrative November touring fixtures. We have compensated in part for this by holding the friendly warm up internationals in advance of the RWC finals. The winning and performance bonuses for the RWC are, meagre in size as the profits from running the RWC, is the only income World Rugby has to promote it worldwide. Winning the RWC is for prestige.
Congratulations to South Africa Assistant Coach, Felix Jones – ex Munster, who has a RWC winners medal.
Double congratulations to Frans Steyn (South Africa) for his two gold medals, he started in the centre in 2007 and got one of his famous long range penalty kicks, and he came on as a replacement in the 2019 final, Both games were against England.
The Bronze medal went to New Zealand who beat Wales 40-17 and this completes the top four in the RWC 2109
Quarter finals: Ireland 14 – New Zealand 46, Japan 3 – South Africa 26, Wales 20 – France 19, England 40 – Australia 16
Semi Finals: England 19 New Zealand 7, Wales 16 South Africa 19
The next four countries, the beaten quarter finalists, ranked from 5-8 for 2023 seeding purposes were, In no particular order, Ireland, Japan, France and Australia
The rest of the teams (12) may need to get involved in play offs to qualify for the 2023 edition in France:
Again in no particular order for the record: Samoa, Scotland, Russia, Italy, Canada, Namibia, Argentina (who had a poor tournament having been in the semi finals for the previous two editions), Tonga, USA, Uruguay, Fiji, Georgia
The points scored by the bottom nine countries are revealing:
Italy 98, Tonga 67, Georgia 65, Uruguay 60, Samoa 58, USA 52, Namibia 34, Russia 19, Canada14. Total 415 in 36 games, (11 per game having played 4 games each). A disappointing result which kills off any thoughts of expanding the finals to 24 teams in the future.
In contrast the points for the top countries were:
South Africa 262, New Zealand 250, England 190, Wales 189, Australia 152, Ireland 135, Scotland 119, Japan 118.
The star X-factor turn at the RWC turned out to be the home side Japan. They lit up proceedings on the pitch and in the stands. they played with rare abandon, enthusiasm, real teamwork with a super motivating captain, speed and flair and rugby excellence. They went under to the champions South Africa 26-3 in the quarter finals after a wonderful struggle against a very physical Springboks. They went down fighting.
None of these statistics attempts to reflect on Ireland’s abysmal failure in the ninth edition of the RWC. From a huge build up and an inflated world ranking and expectation, we just did not rate as a team at the serious part of the competition.
The squad and entourage was back in Dublin when the semi finals were played.
Not one of our internationals was in the running for a place in the RWC super 15 selection for players of the tournament. I think our players need to examine their performances during the tournament in addition to the coaching staff.
Even though it is our ninth failure in succession at the RWC Finals, 1987-2019, we continue to live in hope.

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