The World Cup football tournament has been played since 1930, with a break forced by the second World War, but only eight countries have emerged winners at the 21 competitions.
The 22nd competition kicked off in the Persian Gulf state of Qatar on November 20. The competition is the biggest as far as TV viewership goes, outdoing even the Olympics. It is watched in more countries than the Games.
Brazil have won the trophy on five occasions, the most recent being in 2002, and finished runners-up twice. Germany is next, with four wins, three as West Germany, and one, in 2014, after unification. Continue reading “Will a ninth country join the list of World Cup winners?”
New Zealand’s victory in the women’s World Cup rugby union competition on Sunday — held in their own country — should be welcomed if only because it signals a triumph for the way the game should be played: fast, running rugby, which showcases the players’ skills and is attractive to watch.
The Black Ferns, as the team is known, were up against England, a team of huge players, whose main skill harks back to the 1960s: rolling mauls and a slow grinding down of their opponents. It is the worst way to try and win.
And it is the last style that will inspire anyone to watch the game. It is a defeatist attitude to a game that requires the skills of a soccer player and also those of a track athlete. It is a poor tribute to a game where communication between players, most of the time without a word spoken, is simply surprising. Continue reading “Black Ferns’ World Cup win is best outcome for women’s rugby”
Pakistan skipper Babar Azam blew it. Which captain in the universe would choose to give the last over in a T20 match to an inexperienced spinner rather than a fast bowler, when the side chasing a win is on the wrong side of the equation?
The match one refers to is the T20 clash between India and Pakistan at the MCG on Sunday [October 23].
[India needed 48 off the last three overs and then 16 off the last, after Pakistan made 159 in their 20 overs.] Continue reading “Pakistan captain must take the blame for losing to India”
When Australia loses a rugby match, it is generally put down to some external factor like refereeing. This is the response of both the so-called experts and the coach, Michael Cheika, whose middle name should be “whinging”.
Thus when Wales beat Australia in a pool game in the Rugby World Cup last week, a match that is very likely to decide the winner of that pool and condemn Australia to meet England in the quarter-finals, the reaction was no different.
Continue reading “High time for Michael Cheika to stop whinging about referees”
While many people have raised questions about the quality of refereeing at the ongoing Rugby World Cup, nobody, surprisingly has questioned the quality of commentary that is available. If one were to compare the two, the commentators would lose by a mile.
There is a strange kind of logic that has prevailed in management circles for quite a while now, namely that a person who is good in one sector of an industry would also be equally good in another. It is this kind of logic (?) that leads managers to appoint rank and file employees to positions of leadership. It flies in the face of logic to argue that someone who is good at following orders would be equally good as a leader, but that’s the conventional wisdom that has prevailed and will never go away.
Continue reading “RWC commentators need to be lined up and shot”
The authorities who select referees for matches at the Rugby World Cup do not seem to think very deeply about the choices they make. This is, perhaps, what resulted in the French referee Jerome Garces being put in charge of the game between New Zealand and South Africa on 21 September.
Some background is necessary to understand why Garces’ appointment was questionable. He had officiated in the game between Australia and New Zealand earlier this year and handed out a red card to Kiwi lock Scott Barrett for a charge on Australian skipper Michael Hooper. This was a decision that was questioned in many quarters; that Scott Barrett deserved a yellow card was not in question, but a red card was deemed to be a gross over-reaction.
Continue reading “Was Garces the right choice to officiate SA-NZ game?”
At times, even a polished outfit like the All Blacks can get it wrong. When the team was picked for the game against Argentina on Saturday, a number of second choice players were chosen, in order to get them match-ready and also to establish the depth that the team will need as it builds towards the next World Cup in Japan in 2019.
The major change was the presence of Richie Mo’unga as standoff, taking over from the man acknowledged as the best at that position, Beauden Barrett. Thus, there was tremendous pressure of Mo’unga, more so given that Barrett had put in an excellent performance in the previous outing, against Australia, dominating the game and scoring 30 of the team’s 40 points.
This was Mo’unga’s first start in a Test; he had only come on as a substitute in one earlier Test. That was the depth of his experience when he took the field.
Continue reading “No first-time starter needs this kind of pressure”
For the last 16 years, New Zealand has been winning the annual Bledisloe Cup rugby union competition against Australia, with 2002 being the last time they lost. It is a symbol of rugby supremacy, and for the two countries involved the next best after the World Cup itself.
Over the last few years, every time the games approach, the Australian media hype up the chances of their national team and for the uninitiated, it would appear to be some kind of equal contest. But in the end, New Zealand always runs away with the trophy, though some games can indeed be close.
Last year, for example, New Zealand came to Sydney for the first game as usual. By half-time, despite predictions of a close game being in the offing, New Zealand was ahead 40-6. The game ended in a 54-34 win to the All Blacks.
Continue reading “All Blacks win because they have developed a winning culture”
In the end, just the points that Dan Carter scored off his boot would have sufficed for New Zealand to beat Australia in the final of the Rugby World Cup. The final scoreline was 34-17 and Carter got 19 of those.
One of the truly great standoffs world rugby has seen, Carter only missed one kick on the night; he converted four penalties, kicked a drop-goal and converted two of the three tries that the All Blacks scored.
It was a truly mature performance, with the No 10 kicking astutely, defending with great courage and never panicking when it looked like Australia were getting close to levelling the scores. (He has played better games; for instance, in the second Test against the British and Irish Lions in 2005, he scored more than 30 points as New Zealand won 48-18.)
Continue reading “All Blacks keep their calm – and the World Cup”
It is doubtful whether many people expected Australia to lose to Argentina in the second semi-final of the Rugby World Cup. There was a period last year when this could have happened, a time when the Wallabies were being described as the Wobblies, but under the new coach, Michael Cheika, things seem to have changed.
But the scoreline — 29-15 — flattered Australia. The last try that blew out the score came off a forward pass from Drew Mitchell to Adam Ashley-Cooper, a pass that went unnoticed by referee Wayne Barnes. But that is not surprising because Barnes does not seem to know how to spot a forward pass. He has form in this regard.
Continue reading “Australia can surprise the Kiwis in the final”