Wednesday, July 17, 2019

2019 Rugby World Cup - Pool D: Fiji

2019 Rugby World Cup - Pool D: Australia, Fiji, Georgia, Uruguay, Wales
Both  Australia and Wales, currently numbers six and two on World Rugby’s somewhat mystifying assessment schedule, will do well to pay keen attention to the South Sea nation of Fiji for Fiji have begun a series of firsts that don’t look like to stop anytime soon: 2016 Olympic 7s gold, the first of its kind in any sport for the island nation, set the stage for a bang-up job of topping France last Autumn Test Series and coming near as damn-all v the Irish in Dublin in that match set - and that’s the Dublin-playing bunch that have beaten frontrunner, All Blacks, two-from-three in their last trio of Tests - and most recently, Fiji defeated the New Zealand Maori for the first time in better than three score years.
New Zealand Maori play elite level rugby, and if they were allowed national status, they’d be an easy top-ten, probably top-five on World Rugby’s rankings chart.
Called, “the French of the Southern Hemisphere,” Fiji features forwards who play with a flair formerly found only in the three-quartersline. The pack is sizable and swift with near uncanny offloading technique. 8man Villi Mata, Edinburgh backrow lock and a Ben Pinkelman-type force, is deft at shifting the pill and better at insinuating himself into space thereafter to accelerate fast and fluidly. Mata will be the conduit for halfbacks, Nikki Matawalu-Ben Volavola, and they in turn will set the stage for the force that is the midfield, who’ll loose the backthree backs for great heaps of ground.
Fiji beat Scotland two short summers ago, so they know how European battles can be won, and a win over Wales is not unprecedented as the Flying Fijians returned four minutes from time to ground the decider for an epic, 38-34, victory that meant the quarterfinals for Fiji though not for Wales at 2007 RWC.
So... Fiji, not a dark horse, really... but certainly a Pale One looking to arrange the demise of one or both: Aussie or Wales.
Pool Play - Group D - 2019 RWC

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