It will be played this coming Saturday in France between New Zealand and South Africa. The former beat Argentina quite easily in the first semi-final game but in the second England almost pulled off an upset over the highly favored South African team. In a forwards-dominated game played in rain with a slippery ball, there was a lot of kicking back and forth and England led throughout until almost the very end. With the score 15-6 in England’s favor, South Africa scored a goal ten minutes before the end to make it 15-13 and then made a difficult penalty conversion to edge England out 16-15.
You can see the highlights.
These two finalist have dominated the rugby World Cup, each of them winning three of the nine played to date, and winning all four of the most recent. I think it is good for the game when more teams win the big tournaments so while no one will think either of them unworthy of the title, it is kind of disappointing to me at least that other teams did not make the final.
One of the things that made me prefer rugby to American football is that there were so few stoppages of play. But I had not watched top-level rugby for decades before this tournament and noticed that stoppages had become much more frequent, slowing down the action. I can understand when players are injured and need tending but there seemed to be a large number of stoppages for drinks. There were also a large number of breaks for substitutions of players.
Another thing that I liked about rugby was that once the game started, it was the players who made all the tactical decisions on the field, not the coaches. But it appears that the ‘drinks breaks’ are used by coaches to send instructions to the players through the drinks carriers. In fact the referee at one point seemed to be admonishing the two teams to stop having so many drinks breaks, probably suspecting that they were being misused by the coaches.