Weekend review: devastating for the Welsh, fantastic for the English
Without hesitation, the central headline coming out of this past weekend of rugby were the potentially serious injuries to Wales’s stars Leigh Halfpenny and Rhys Webb, with neither looking encouraging at this time.
With twelve days before the party starts, it was sad to see two world-class players stretchered off. Wales may have won 23-19 against Italy In Cardiff but its came at a major cost as from the footage it appears almost certain they will be without two of their key players for the tournament.
However, on a positive note for England fans it gives Stuart Lancaster’s men a more straightforward route out of their ‘Pool of Death’, which also includes Australia, Fiji and the less dreaded Uruguay.
Speaking of the men in white, they looked in fine fettle this weekend against Ireland for the most part, although after a lot of second-half rotation they to an extent limped to a 21-13 victory in the closing stages.
For England, vice-Captain Tom Wood stood out alongside wing pair Jonny May and Anthony Watson, who both touched down tries while attention-grabbing selection Sam Burgess came on as a replacement to do nothing out of the ordinary.
On the subject of controversial choices, Scotland head coach Vern Cotter fielded John Hardie, who hadn’t stepped foot in the country prior to his World Cup selection. Nevertheless, the loose forward certainly didn’t disgrace himself on his second outing for Scots’ with a compact performance.
However, the New Zealand-born forward was certainly not going to outperform French Skipper, Thierry Dusautioir, who was making his first appearance of the summer. The Captain was given a roaring reception from the French faithful before Les Bleus went onto snatch victory late on from the jaws of defeat when Noa Nakaitaci dived over, with France edging it 19-16.
Other countries that impressed included Argentina, who flexed their muscles to overcome Leicester Tigers 55-34 in a thoroughly entertaining game while Japan weren’t at their best as they edged past Georgia 13-10 in Gloucester.