What an incredible week in World Cup rugby. The competition really was set alight by shocking news and phenomenal games. The shocking news is that New Zealand's match winner Dan Carter will take no further part in the World Cup. This news has shocked the rugby world as it is a well-known fact that the Kiwis are not half as dangerous as they would be without him. It is incredible to think that a fanatical rugby nation like New Zealand can only have one world-class player in a key position like fly-half. They will now have to rely on Colin Slade to stand in for Carter - and he is not a very reliable kicker. It will force Graham Henry to pick Piri Weepu at nine, so that he at least has a reliable kicker. The All Blacks will now have to play out of their skins and make sure that they make up for Carter's absence by dominating in other areas of the game. One thing is for sure and that is that New Zealand's hopes of winning the World Cup for the first time since 1987 have taken a major blow.
Other shocking news is that Francois Steyn will be returning to South Africa after injuring his shoulder against the Samoans. I know that Peter de Villiers says that this is a bigger setback for the Boks than Carter is for the Kiwis, but I don't agree. We have a very accomplished replacement in Jean de Villiers and he will never let the Springboks down. Frans Steyn will, however, be sorely missed as his ability to slot long-range goals is a massive bonus to any team. In play-off games those penalties pile on pressure and make life very difficult for opposition teams. Rugby is a contact sport and injuries are part and parcel of the game. Most teams in the play-offs have got injuries and it will be no excuse if a team is knocked out.
France vs. Tonga
France comprehensively beaten
In the last round of pool games there were some incredible matches and one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history. France was comprehensively beaten by Tonga, which really has taken this World Cup by storm. Tonga has always had very big physical players, but has now added a new dimension to its game by playing to a controlled and well-organised game plan. The French are known for their ability either to arrive and play incredible rugby, or they just seem to put on their playing kit and run through the motions and hope it will be good enough. The performance against Tonga was the latter, and when they realised that they needed to pick up their game it was already too late. For a small country like Tonga to beat a mighty rugby-playing nation like France is an incredible achievement. Even though Tonga did not make the play-offs, its people can be really proud of the way they played. This is also true for Scotland and their supporters. They played two fantastic games against Argentina and England, and lost both in the dying minutes of the match. I really was gutted for them when they lost to England, as they really deserved to win the game. Sport can be very harsh and for the Scots it really was a harsh tournament.
Do or die
The pool games are something of the past and now it is do or die in every game. If you look at the eight teams involved in the quarter-finals, then South Africa must be looking like the favourites. They are clearly the most experienced and they also have the fewest injuries of the top teams. This World Cup is going to produce more surprises and I am hoping one of those will not include South Africa. The Boks will play a wounded bunch of Australians, but, even though we should win, the Australians can never be written off. They have a very dangerous attacking back line that can seemingly break defences at will. Our rush defence will have to be spot on, otherwise Quade Cooper and Will Genia will take us apart. New Zealand should get past Argentina and England should beat France. The big match of the weekend is between Wales and Ireland. I am convinced that it will go down to the wire and I am not sure who will win. I have a sneaky suspicion that Wales might pull it off, but I am definitely not prepared to put any money on it. Enjoy the games and lets hope the Boks manage to kick the Wallabies out of the competition.
Corné Krige; former captain of the Springboks has had a successful rugby career, playing 39 tests for South African in total of 18 of which were as Captain as well as leading the Springboks in the World Cup in 2003. Corné now lives in Melkbosstrand with his wife Justine and three children. He owns his own company, CK Outdoor which specializes in Outdoor Advertising and is sports contributor to Bizcommunity's BizLifestyle section.
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