Every­thing You Need to Know

NZ Rugby World Tournament Guide - - CON­TENTS -

The best two pages in the mag­a­zine – all the im­por­tant in­for­ma­tion you are go­ing to need for the next seven weeks.

A World Cup can be over­whem­ing for the home viewer. Never fear, these two pages will give you a great head start to­wards get­ting your head around the tour­na­ment and what it is all about.

WEATHER IN ENG­LAND

A bit risky pre­dict­ing the likely weather in the UK given the no­to­ri­ously fickle pat­terns that in­flict the is­land. But it is im­por­tant to un­der­stand that when the tour­na­ment kicks off in mid-Septem­ber, the UK could be bask­ing in late sum­mer sun­shine. It might ac­tu­ally be quite warm – maybe around 20 de­grees – and prob­a­bly quite dry, too. By the semi­fi­nal and fi­nal – played in mid-to-late Oc­to­ber – con­di­tions should have wors­ened. Night games are likely to be played in sin­gle fig­ure tem­per­a­tures and that time of year is prone to strong winds and squally show­ers.

KICK OFF TIMES

There is a full mix of kick­off times across the tour­na­ment and for the All Blacks – so you will have to pay at­ten­tion. The range of kick­off times in [UK time] is from 12 noon to 8pm. To the or­gan­is­ers credit they have heav­ily utilised the late af­ter­noon and man­aged to sched­ule two quar­ter­fi­nals, both semi­fi­nals and the fi­nal for 4pm.

TIME DIF­FER­ENCES

Se­ri­ously, pay at­ten­tion to this as it will be im­por­tant for set­ting alarms and record­ing de­vices. Time dif­fer­ences be­tween NZ and the UK are go­ing to change dur­ing the tour­na­ment. Between Septem­ber 18 and Septem­ber 27 the time dif­fer­ence be­tween NZ and the UK will be 11 hours. They will be on Bri­tish Sum­mer Time [no they are not be­ing ironic]. Between Septem­ber 27 and Oc­to­ber 25 the time dif­fer­ence will be 12 hours. NZ will in­sti­gate day­light sav­ings on Septem­ber 27.

After Oc­to­ber 25 the time dif­fer­ence will be 13 hours as the clocks in the UK will go back. This may be pre­sump­tu­ous – but the only game af­fected by this last change is the fi­nal...

GEN­UINE CON­TENDERS

Bit of a bum­mer that the All Blacks might have to play South Africa in the semi­fi­nal as the Boks are def­i­nitely the most se­ri­ous con­tender. They beat the All Blacks last year and are a team with tour­na­ment pedi­gree and all the right bells and whis­tles for high pres­sure rugby. Big and tough they might be wor­ry­ingly good.

Eng­land if they can han­dle the pres­sure of be­ing hosts and the ex­pec­ta­tion of a na­tion that is re­mark­ably good at los­ing all per­spec­tive, have a bit of an edge to them. There are plenty of bruis­ers in the pack and oc­ca­sion­ally, when they re­ally com­mit to a wider game­plan, they can do a bit of dam­age through the backs.

Ire­land are a con­tender more on the ba­sis they have a favourable draw. They are quite good. Well coached and or­gan­ised and they are hard to beat. But they don’t play quite enough rugby to be a threat on the same level as Eng­land and South Africa.

OVER RATED

The French. They are ac­tu­ally pretty or­di­nary and it is go­ing to get rather dull hear­ing all the usual cliches about their un­pre­dictabil­ity. Un­less they are un­pre­dictable and beat the All Blacks in the quar­ter­fi­nal. Again. Which they could...be­cause they are un­pre­dictable and its dan­ger­ous to write them off. Damn it. How did we end up here?

UN­DER RATED

The Wal­la­bies [right] aren’t quite the bas­ket case we all say they are. They have chronic prob­lems at scrum time – but they had those in 2003 and made the fi­nal. They know how to hide their weak­ness and they never lack for con­fi­dence. When have the Aussies ever thought they were beaten?

VENUES

Mostly iconic, big foot­ball sta­di­ums with a few rugby clas­sics thrown in. Twick­en­ham will be the cen­tre­piece in the knock­out rounds along with Mil­len­nium Sta­dium. The lat­ter is a mag­nif­i­cent venue but has a ter­ri­ble pitch and, given the num­ber of games go­ing to be played on it, could look like a pretty sad graz­ing pad­dock by the quar­ter­fi­nals.

Mil­len­nium might be the ex­cep­tion – the one stodgy sur­face that fits the stereo­type. Be­cause most of the other games are be­ing played at foot­ball grounds, they will be firm, hard packed and on short grass. Every­one might be sur­prised at how easy it will be to play at pace and gen­er­ate width.

RAIN CHECK: There will be a bit of crap weather in the knock­out rounds.

HARD EDGE: The Boks will be tough to beat.

RECORD CROWD: Wem­b­ley will have 90,000 peo­ple in it when the All Blacks play there.

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