Rugby World Cup

Burning questions about the Rugby World Cup

Steve Deane tells you all you really need to know about Rugby World Cup 2019 - as long as you don't really need to know too much.

Will the All Blacks win?

Yes.

Care to elaborate?

No.

Huh? Okay then. Will Sonny Bill Williams return home injured?

No.

Are you sure?

Not really.

But isn’t he injured?

Yes.

But…?

He’s a 34-year-old professional rugby player who started playing professional rugby league as a teenager. Of course he is injured. The question is: how badly is he injured? And is it manageable?

Perhaps you should ask the questions then?

I am. I’m asking them and answering them. That’s how this device works.

Well maybe you should ask some better questions then?

Okay – tell me about Namibia?

Good one. Namibia is the country Murray Deaker used to call Nambibia. It fought a war of independence against South Africa and got to go its own way in 1990. It features in a bunch of Wilbur Smith books, and has a rugby team that has been drawn alongside New Zealand, South Africa, Italy and Canada. I know what your next question will be, so I’ll answer it now: frankly they’ve got shit show.

A lot of ‘experts’ are picking South Africa to win it. Why are they doing that?

No idea. South Africa have been in a steady decline as a rugby nation for a couple of decades. Yes, they’ve shown some signs of life of late but, let’s face it, they couldn’t even win a war of independence against Nambibia, so they’re not really to be feared. A wild guess as to why some are picking them is that the All Blacks have been a bit frail of late – and it’s not like anyone in their right mind could actually tip Ireland, Wales, Australia or Argentina. That leaves England and France. You can’t trust the French, and an England triumph doesn’t bear thinking about, so South Africa becomes the ABTAB pick by default.

ABTAB?

Anyone But The All Blacks.

Why would people not want to tip us?

Because they hate us.

Why?

It’s either pure jealousy or a lingering resentment over the successful export of Russell Crowe to Australia.

Of course. Speaking of Australia, they pounded the All Blacks in Perth. Surely they’re a chance?

They are. Or rather they are a chance of causing an upset in the knockout rounds. It’s hard to see them being good enough to win three straight knockout games – which is what is required to lift the Cup.

What about Wales and Ireland – the teams that knocked the All Blacks off their world No. 1 ranking perch?

Ireland should top their piss-weak pool but then will face the All Blacks or Springboks in the quarterfinals. Good luck with that. Wales could top their pool if they beat Australia but could also miss out on the playoffs altogether if they lose to the Wallabies and Fiji. Unlikely – but will be hilarious if it happens. If it doesn’t, they’ll draw either England, France or Argentina in the quarterfinals.

All-up, it’s more likely that both Ireland and Wales depart before the semifinal stage than either one actually go on and win it.

Will there be any upsets?

Nah. Some Kiwis will be majorly upset if the All Blacks don’t win it, but they’ll move on with their lives pretty quickly.

But you’ve guaranteed an All Blacks win?

Yep.

How can you justify that prediction?

I don’t need to justify anything to you, mate.

What about the readers?

They’ll take my word for it.

How can you be so sure?

Because the All Blacks are the opposite of the Black Caps on the good fortune front. Nine times out of 10, if they find themselves in an unwinnable position, they’ll come back and win anyway. And if there is a countback on clean scrum feeds won, or marks taken inside the 22, to decide the winner, the arsy buggers will win that. That’s just how it is.

You’re still pissy about the Cricket World Cup final aren’t you?

Indeed.

Speaking of which, any chance teams will get poisoned in Japan ahead of a big match?

Highly unlikely. Although it might pay to avoid the kujira on match days.

Whale meat?

No thanks, I’ve already eaten.

Finally, what’s the one thing Kiwi rugby fans should keep in mind when following the World Cup?

It’s just a game, so don’t take it too seriously. And remember, as a mere fan, you know nothing. Leave the serious analysis to the experts.

Sure. Do you know any?

Piss off.

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