The quarter finals of the 2023 Rugby World Cup

todayOctober 18, 2023 33

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Previously I, and let’s face it, most rugby pundits and fans, had called into question the wisdom of a Rugby World Cup format that pits the big guns against – and there is no disrespect intended – minnows. There simply is not enough strong rugby nations to guarantee a “strength versus strength” scenario…that’s why we saw the cricket scores that we did. And again, while it enlarged the tournament ergo the financial return for the IRB, it did no favours in terms of advertising the sport…in fact, it seemed to show potential new rugby fans that there is a chasm between the rugby “contenders” and the “also rans”…so has the situation changed now that we’ve reached the knock-outs? Yes and no. Yes – the quarter finals have proven that the chasm exists, and is probably wider than we realize. No, there is no place for a single huge tournament where the rugby Davids face the Goliaths – that will have to be made into two “strength vs strength” tournaments. But yes, it has suddenly become a real showcase for rugby at its finest. In stark contrast to the earlier mismatches, it is now generally agreed that the Springbok vs France and the Ireland vs All Blacks games conservatively rank among the top 10 matches of all time. And the rest, especially the England vs Fiji match, were spectacles too. This is what rugby at it finest can produce – edge-of-the-seat, epic matches that leaves fans hungry for more – and persons new to the sport wondering why they’ve never heard of this great sport. But unfortunately there is no place at that level for “minnows” and the sooner that is realized, the better for rugby. The great are getting better, the rest are lagging badly.


PARIS, FRANCE – OCTOBER 15: Eben Etzebeth of South Africa celebrates with RG Snyman and Faf de Klerk of South Africa after scoring his team’s fourth try during the Rugby World Cup France 2023 Quarter Final match between France and South Africa at Stade de France on October 15, 2023 in Paris, France. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Written by: Deon v Rensburg

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