1 – These Minnows Aren’t As Minnowy As Expected
This is not a complaint. With the exception of Canada (sorry my Canadian friends), all of the smaller teams turned up and made themselves known.
2 – World Rugby Might Be Useful For Something
I don’t like being nice about the IRB as was, but the improvement in the Tier 2 nations suggests that their plan to improve them might have been a good thing.
3 – I Don’t Think That South African Result Was A Fluke, In Either Direction
Japan have always been a good team, that have lost because of lack of size not lack of skill. Possibly the new scrum rules are enabling them to use that skill in a way they couldn’t before. If they can fully recover in time for the Scotland match, that could be interesting.
On the other side, I don’t think that was a South African side playing below their abilities. Especially when you consider the results in this year’s Four Nations (I am calling it The Rugby Championship over my cold dead body). Could it be that this South African team have just turned up too old to this World Cup?
4 – South Africa Were Not The Only “Big” Nation To Look A Little Creaky
Sure, they remembered they were the might All Blacks and went on to win, but New Zealand looked very rocky in patches against Argentina. South Africa had amassed 851 caps before the game, but this is dwarfed by the 1,013 caps the New Zealand starting XV had. In a sport as physically draining as rugby union, all those games are going to start to tell eventually, even if you’re as deeply professional as New Zealand are about pre- and post-match conditioning and recovery.