048. Matches 21 and 22

RWC2019 Match 21: Fiji 45 Georgia 10

Fiji ran away,with some gorgeous running and passing with ball in one hand, in the fourth quarter.  A bonus point meant they went (for a short-time) to second in their Pool.

They’re a mathematical chance of making the quarters (if they win with a bonus point against Wales, and Australia loses to Georgia without a bonus point), but in reality they’re playing for third place with its guaranteed entry to RWC2023.

The Georgians looked competitive for much of the first half, but ran out of puff in the second.

One of the big stories in the post-mortem of this tournament will the be the weather conditions.  Hot and humid is putting a huge stress on players, especially the tight forwards. That in turn is providing an opportunity to coaches who have prepared a high-speed, big-width aerobic strategy.

That would be Steve Hansen, and possibly Eddie Jones.


RWC2019 Match 22: Ireland 35 Russia 0

There were a lot of people wanting to get out of Kyushu towards the north today: something about some sports tournament maybe.  So this was one day’s travelling, heading for Kobe for this match, for which we had not been able to secure reserved seats.

Kokura was a scrum of gaijin with stupidly big bags trying to squeeze a seat on the fastest Shinkansen towards Kobe and Tokyo.

So LittleDavyOne and I took the slightly slower half-empty Shinkansen on the neighbouring platform, changing at Okayama to a Shinkansen that was crushed full, but we only had to stand for the 30 minutes to Kobe.

Play smart, people.

It was raining when we arrived, and I was not a hundred percent sure about which road to take to our hotel, so I popped into a police box to ask directions.  Not ony did they show me the way (100 metres up the street), but they also gave me an umbrella.

I haven’t quite worked out the umbrella ettiquette. Most hotels, shops and bars will have a container at the front-door where you put your wet umbrella.  When you step out, take an umbrella.  If you have an umbrella you want to keep, they have special plastic bags for you to wrap it in and carry with you inside, or there will be an umbrella stand with combination locks.

But the basic umbrella? Take one, use it, leave it somehere useful for the next person.

Which is maybe why the officer was a bit nonplussed when I returned the umbrella when we went out for the match later.

A good subway connection to the stadium, which included Ned entertaining a couple of Japanese toddlers with his funny faces routine. I could tell they thought me charming because they got more naughtily noisy as the trip went on.

Kobe is another soccer stadium, which felt quite compressed with the stands close in.  The advantage was the Irish singing felt wonderful.  A few Russian likely lads in attendance kept up a good steam of “Ross-i-ya” throughout, which was warmly welcomed by everyone.

And, despite the scoreline, the Russians were good.  They’ve clearly come on during the tournament, which is part of the point of the whole deal.

The Irish, on the other hand, went long periods looking adrift. Beyond getting a bonus point win it was not entirely clear what they were looking to get from the game. Maybe that’s enough in a Pool which has been turned topsy-turvy by Japan’s win over Ireland.

But it’s not going to be good enough when it comes to the quarter-finals.


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