Ryan Jones

No more tips from me! (16)

Swansea - Sorry for the delay guys, it's taken me this long to recover from the weekend!

Moral of the week: don’t come to me for your betting tips! Two out of four isn’t bad but it isn’t exactly good either.

Humble pie time first to the legions of England fans who so promptly let me know that my tip, the Australians, were on their way home and their team that I had "written off’" were marching on through.

Fair play, England came away with one hell of a result in that game and their tactics were spot on.

Where I did get it completely wrong was in saying that I thought the Australian pack had improved sufficiently to compete for parity with the English… it quite evidently hadn’t. England’s forwards identified the weakness, got into their groove and just kept turning the screw.

They also managed to stop Australia playing so the ball they did get was somewhat laboured and that negated the talent they have behind.

It could have all been different had Stirling Mortlock held his nerve for that final kick, but he missed and England are in with a big shout at the tournament now.

They have the experience not to let anybody look ahead to the final, and they will have their sights set on France in the semi where it’s all about what happens on the day.

The biggest shock had to be in Cardiff, though, where the French showed just what this tournament is all about.


Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised at all that the All Blacks have left without the trophy as they have made a habit of coming in with the best team and then choking it.

But I honestly thought this group of players and management would be different. Not so.

The French were aided by New Zealand losing key players at key times, and when it came round to going out and getting that result in the final periods, it seemed that everyone was looking for someone else to do it in the absence of go-to man Dan Carter.

Take nothing away from France though, their defensive effort in that period was awesome - not so much for huge hits or multiple turn-overs but just for sheer patience and discipline. There was one stage where the All Blacks had had the ball inside the French half for over twenty phases but Les Blues did not give them an inch.

It’ll be interesting to see how, after a victory like that, the French team cope with the pressure of going back in front of their home crowd against England. They will have learned lessons about that kind of pressure form the Argentina game and that should stand them in good stead.

I felt very sorry for Fiji who were once again magnificent against South Africa and nearly pulled off the mother-of-all-shocks for the second game in succession.

Their showing against the Springboks certainly put Wales’ loss into perspective and showed that Fiji are a team to be reckoned with on the world stage now. It would be nice to see them getting the backing to develop the sport even further in their country.

South Africa had the juggernaut pack to call on though and were able to change the course of the game and squeeze out the win. It reminded me a little of England’s quarter-final against Wales in Brisbane in 2003 where, after having the kitchen sink thrown at them by Wales, England went back to a kicking game and the strength of their pack to close out the tie and walk off the field counting their blessings.

Should South Africa go on to win the trophy like England did then I think they’ll look back on their tie with Fiji as crucial as far as grinding out a victory in tough circumstances.

A huge pat on the back also goes to the Pumas who have qualified for their first World Cup semi-final and have every chance of going further.

Having come through to this stage with the draw that they had is a remarkable achievement, and they’ll have no thoughts about going home as a bridesmaid.

Scotland will be disappointed in their performance though having come up with too little too late.

The Argentines were not playing at the same level as they had done against Ireland and had they been attacked earlier could really have been given a run for their money.

Hindsight is a luxury though and as it was the Scots who chose to play tight until late on when they managed to cross for a try. I’m sure they will be viewing the match as a missed opportunity but looking forward to challenges ahead.

In conclusion, and regardless of my predictions or anything else, it was a marvellous weekend of World Cup rugby and showed the world what our game is all about - tough hard-fought games with the outcome always in doubt.

If the remaining three matches of the tournament can live up to the weekend just gone we’ll all be in for a real treat.

Ryan Jones plays number eight for Wales but misses the World Cup through injury.

Comments  Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 12:40 PM on 11 Oct 2007,
  • Jules wrote:

"The mother-of-all-shocks for the second game in succession"?

It wasn't such a shock when Fiji beat Wales was it? It was slightly against the odds, sure, but it wasn't a shock. Fiji have some amazing and dangerous runners and are extremely physical and lets face it: Wales are pretty average at the moment - their results this year are the worst for a long time.

  • 2.
  • At 12:53 PM on 11 Oct 2007,
  • Amie wrote:

Hi Ryan,

Just wanted to say that even though the World Cup hasn’t been the best from a Welsh perspective, your blogs have kept us entertained, certainly wont be taking any bets tips from you though !

Sorry to hear about the setback with your injury and hope to see you back out on the pitch soon, god knows Wales and Ospreys need you.

Here’s to the next World Cup – reckon you’ll be Wales Captain by then ?!

  • 3.
  • At 01:14 PM on 11 Oct 2007,
  • Ifan wrote:

Don't worry about your predictions last week Ryan, not many would have seen two "upsets" on the cards last saturday!I've been a big fan of your blog this world cup...keep it up!

I wouldn't like to put my money on any one team left because I think all 4 have a realistic chance of winning. Saturday's semi - France to beat England
Sunday - SA to beat Argentina (even though I would love to see a repeat of the opening match and see Argentina stuff a 3nation team on the way just to make their point that little bit clearer!!)
I see France winning in the final no matter who they play because of the home crowd(in the same way the football won in 98).
Will be supporting Argies though ...C'mon PUMAS!!

  • 4.
  • At 01:42 PM on 11 Oct 2007,
  • Guillaume wrote:

I'm a French supporter writing from Mauritius. First of all well done to both teams for getting there. Unexpected but never write off the two big Northern Hemisphere nations. Paris will be buzzing saturday night whoever wins, it's always fun to be around rugby supporters as there are no ill feelings whatsoever after the game. This is what make this game so fan friendly. Let the party begins and may the best team win. Slight advantage to France and all the best to you England supporters.
Cheers and good luck!!!!!

  • 5.
  • At 03:42 PM on 11 Oct 2007,
  • alec in France wrote:

That has got to be the most unconvincing humble pie eating I've ever witnessed. You had a nibble but you are still firmly in the "anyone but England" camp.

  • 6.
  • At 03:57 PM on 11 Oct 2007,
  • Sam M wrote:

Aren't there four games left to the world cup? Or have they gotten rid of the third place play-off for the losing semi-finalists? Suppose it'll be one less game for England's players to play if they have, in what's going to be a long season.

  • 7.
  • At 04:02 PM on 11 Oct 2007,
  • Graham Holliday wrote:

Cheers Guillaume lets hope for a game won on merit rather than lost through error or worse a referring controversy.
I think it will be extremely close and though les Bleus must start favourites I think a "smart" England - with Mike Catt to the fore - will win. For you Elissalde is the key as he takes so much pressure off his fly-half IF mad man Lewis can get to him then les rosbifs will be singing through the night!

  • 8.
  • At 05:43 PM on 11 Oct 2007,
  • harley wrote:

I was looking forward to a Fiji v Pumas Final---what a tonic for the minnows!
It does seem strange that the best two teams in the World--NZ 1st and 2nds--have failed again. Is it arrogance/hubris, or what? If the game were re-played I believe NZ would win handsomely, and creative rugby would be the winner!
The rules of the Game must change if it is to become more popular; the Dean Richard`s style is still the norm for England, notwithstanding the flair of Jason, Josh,Tait et al........
Harley--still in denial!!

My look at the All Blacks, English press and semi-final predictions.

  • 10.
  • At 07:07 PM on 11 Oct 2007,
  • Rob Legge wrote:

2003 QF, England vs Wales. Wasn't that the one where Wales gave a way a penalty every 5 minutes - every time England ran with the ball in fact? England didn't have to win that match. Wales went out of their way to lose it.

  • 11.
  • At 07:41 PM on 11 Oct 2007,
  • Gwenann wrote:

Are you not going to give us your predictions for which teams will win this weekend?

Great blog by the way - very entertaining! x

  • 12.
  • At 09:24 PM on 11 Oct 2007,
  • David wrote:

Great blog, and even better picture, it might even be a smile on Chabal's face, not that you can tell! It certainly made me smile. Keep up the good work.

  • 13.
  • At 07:19 AM on 12 Oct 2007,
  • Richard wrote:

I'm a Welsh supporter, but on Saturday night I will, for the first time ever, be supporting England against France. Why? Because in their win against Aus they demonstrated real depth of character and an approach that was refreshingly free of the arrogance (real or imagined) that previous England teams have displayed. And that is something that the Welsh team could well learn from. Well done England. Looking forward to seeing you back in the Welsh team, Ryan.

  • 14.
  • At 10:58 AM on 12 Oct 2007,
  • Nick wrote:

Firstly I am so glad that England has proved their doubters wrong again. It also proves that you do not win World Cup's by playing expansive Rugby, the teams who progressed to the semi's last weekend was the ones who had forward strength and could keep the ball tight. I do not agree with your comment about the QF in 2003 between England and Wales, Johnson and his charges probably had no doubt that they was going to beat was, power has always been the key to winning this tournement. Come on England!!

  • 15.
  • At 11:58 AM on 12 Oct 2007,
  • Stuart wrote:

Richard, comment 13, thank you and you're right, the current Welsh team could do with dropping the arrogance. Each try they scored against Fiji was followed by too much celebration as if the match was already won and having got back into the game Wales then lost it by going back into the mood of arrogance that saw them fall 20 points behind in the first place.

All 4 SF teams have got this far without too much bragging, even SA after their mauling of England, so we're all set for 2 great games whatever happens.

  • 16.
  • At 06:09 PM on 12 Oct 2007,
  • Paul wrote:

I'm looking forward to these semi finals. Any team getting this far can't be considered an outsider and I think Argentina will give South Africa their hardest test yet.
I suspect that English grit and hard grind will edge a win against the French. Their lack of confidence was their undoing on their last meetings and English confidence is back again. I'm a Welshman too and I can't say I'm loving the fact England are turning themselves around and becoming real contenders but then I have to admit I'm jealous. Wales need to work out what went so wrong from Grand Slam to now and fix it.
May the best teams win this weekend...
Ryan, I wonder on what the odds are at the bookies for the final being the same teams and outcome as the opening match? Worth a punt?

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