The Irish upset of the more fancied Wallabies has caused a significant change the shape of the knockout finals. On current form – it looks like the Southern Hemisphere teams are now all lining up on one (tougher) side of the knockout draw with the Northern Hemisphere sides lining up on the other.
As of today, it looks like we can expect the following results from the pool stages:
- Pool A: 1st New Zealand 2nd France
- Pool B: 1st England 2nd Argentina
- Pool C: 1st Ireland 2nd Australia
- Pool D: 1st South Africa 2nd Wales (though Fiji can still squeak in 2nd)
Which means that we can expect the following draw in the knockout stages
- New Zealand v Argentina
- South Africa v Australia
- England v France
- Ireland v Wales
The winner of SA vs Aus game will face the winner of NZ vs Arg (i.e. New Zealand). Hell… what a road to take for South Africa to get to the final.
Ireland and Wales on the other hand have secured themselves an all “6-Nations” route to the final. Right now, Wales’ one point loss to the Boks is looking like a stroke of genius if there ever was one. So should the Boks strategically lose the game against Namibia to secure the “easier route” to the Final?
I can see how this could be very easily done. Bakkies Botha can be given the goal kicking responsibilities, they can pick Ruan Pienaar and Adi Jacobs as props and give as much ball as possible to Bryan Habana (in space preferably).
There’s only one flaw with this system – that the World Cup always throws the proverbial “box of tarantulas” into the mix in the final round of pool matches. There’s no guarantee that results will go according to the form book. Just ask anyone who has left a World Cup match between France and New Zealand with the Kiwi’s up at half time.
If you ask me, the Boks are most likely better taking the advice of Tom Beringer in Major League:
So Bryan Habana – it looks like you’re going to have to stay “injured” after all.