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The exciting autumn test tour ended, and now begins the speculation and the punditry of what the past tour represents for the upcoming Rugby World Cup that starts in September 2015. Rugby Today examines the recent results within the four Pools.
Pool A – England (2-2), Australia (1-3), Wales (2-2), Fiji (1-2) and Uruguay (0-0).
Remember, one of the first three XVs will not advance into the next round. And, the runner up will play South Africa in the quarter finals. England only lost by three-points to the All Blacks and also to the Springboks with a last game win over weary Australia. The Wallabies must regroup after dropping from third to fifth in world rankings. Wales gained confidence with a last match victory over South Africa at home in Cardiff.
Pool B – South Africa (2-2), Scotland (2-1), Samoa (1-2), Japan (1-2), and USA (1-3).
The weakest pool and a probable easy ride to the top for the Springboks. The team can rest key players in the less important RWC games. But losses, albeit, away, to Ireland and Wales are unexpected outcomes for this traditional powerhouse. Scotland showed fortitude in a low scoring loss to the All Blacks, and will be looking for the Pool B runner up spot. Japan beat Romania but lost to Georgia. The Brave Blossoms remain the USA’s main hope for a RWC win.
Pool C – New Zealand (4-0), Argentina (3-1), Tonga (2-1), Georgia (1-2), Namibia (0-3).
The All Blacks, again, per usual, played a notch above all competitors, achieving an undefeated tour with key wins over England, Wales and Scotland. Argentina scored a surprise win against France, and a loss to Scotland. How good are Los Pumas? The question is mute since they are in another easy draw, and should gain runner up position.
Pool D – France (2-1), Ireland (3-0), Italy (1-2), Canada (1-3) and Romania (1-2).
Ireland is the buzz of the world’s rugby media, scoring wins over South Africa and Australia at home in Dublin. The Irish also triumphed in last year’s Six Nations Cup. So, is this finally, after seven past RWCs, going to see the team's first quarter-final advance? France disappointed with a loss to Argentina but beat Australia by three points. The runner up in Pool D will play New Zealand. Canada had a poor tour with three losses. (NB. The Irish team represents both Ireland and Northern Ireland, the only sport where the island nation plays as one)
Ahead is the 2015 Six Nations Cup, and a shortened southern hemisphere Rugby Championship. By September of next year, this autumn tour will be long forgotten.