From a safe distance, IBTimesUK takes a look at the scrums, tackles, fights and injuries sustained during the first round of the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
With 40 matches down, the Rugby World Cup has become a knockout contest between the hemispheres – north vs south. Defending champions New Zealand are playing France in the highest-profile game of the quarter-finals, which also feature Australia against Scotland, South Africa vs Wales and Argentina against Ireland.
The South Africans have only lost twice in 30 tests against Wales. The Springboks have the best strike rate at the World Cup, having won the title twice since rejoining international competition in the post-apartheid era. Bryan Habana has equalled Jonah Lomu's mark of 15 World Cup tries and could earn the record outright with another touchdown against Wales. On the plus side for the Welsh, they beat South Africa in Cardiff in November 2014 and came through the toughest group of the tournament.
While the All Blacks are the undisputed number one team — with their intimidation tactics starting before kick-off with the ceremonial Haka — they have struggled to exert serious supremacy in important recent World Cup matches against the French, who thrive on their reputation for being unpredictable.
Six Nations champions Ireland have won 12 and drawn one of their 20 matches against Argentina but the Southern Hemisphere side has a 2-1 edge in World Cup encounters. The Irish have never won a World Cup quarter-final and they will be without captain Paul O'Connell, who injured his hamstring against France, and flanker Sean O'Brien, who is serving a suspension.
The Wallabies are strong favourites after topping a group containing Wales and England, and face a Scotland team that lost every match in the Six Nations tournament and struggled to hold off Samoa 36-33 to seal second spot in its group here. But the two-time champion Australians are wary after losing two of their last three matches against the Scots.
England have been knocked out – the first time a tournament host has failed to reach the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals, but London Mayor Boris Johnson showed England still have the power to crush the opposition – if the opposition is a 10-year-old Japanese child.
This article was first published
on October 16, 2015