Rugby News & Views From an American Perspective
by Ted Hardy,
I seem to remember feeling the same way when the drawing was held for the 2011 World Cup. Excitement? Fervor? Anticipation? Nope, nope, and nope. All I remember feeling was confused. Why have a drawing for a tournament that takes place in just under three years? It really doesn’t make any sense to me. It would be like drawing up the March Madness NCAA Bracket right now.
Anyways, it is what it is I guess. For the time being, I’m only concerned with two pools. Pool B and Pool D. I’ll start paying attention to the other two pools in about two and half years. Pool B and D are, of course, the two places where the USA will likely end up.
The Eagles will have their qualification for the 2015 Rugby World Cup this coming summer with a home and away series with Canada. While the Eagles have made strides, Canada has really began to open up a competitive gap between the two squads. Still, there is a reason that the games are played on the field, because you never know.
If the USA is able to topple Canada and claim the Americas 1 slot in the 2015 RWC, they will be in the same pool as France, Ireland, Italy, and Europe 2. Not too much different that this past World Cup where the Eagles faced Ireland, Italy, and Russia. Of the two options, this pool is the most likely to bear a victory for the team representing Americas 1.
Now, if the USA fall to Canada they will fall into a situation where they will have to play more qualifying matches to nab the Americas 2 place in the 2015 RWC. With Argentina automatically qualifying and despite the gap between Canada and the USA, the Eagles remain firmly as the third best team in the Americas. In the event the Eagles claim the Americas 2 bid, they will be pooled with South Africa, Samoa, Scotland, and Asia 1. The Asia 1 bid will likely go to Japan. The Eagles faced South Africa and Samoa in the 2007 RWC. The Eagles faced Japan and Scotland in the 2003 RWC.
While this pool present a much steeper challenge, I find it far more interesting. Japan will be the game that the Eagles target, but they may have just as much of a chance against Scotland, whom have fallen out of the Top 10 in the IRB rankings. Japan has reaped the benefits of their professional league and have easily handled the Eagles in recent matchups. Japan will pose a formidable threat to Scotland.
Regardless of how it all shakes out, the buildup to the 2015 Rugby World Cup has officially begun.
Best of luck to everyone… in 2015.
Pool A: Australia, England, Wales, Oceania 1, Playoff Winner
Pool B: South Africa, Samoa, Scotland, Asia 1, Americas 2
Pool C: New Zealand, Argentina, Tonga, Europe 1, Africa 1
Pool D: France, Ireland, Italy, Americas 1, Europe 2