RWC Analysis & Predictions with USA’s Matt “Polar Bear” Hawkins

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Hawkins vs Boks (Rugby Mag Photo)

RWU: The Springboks lost an incredible battle vs the Wallabies and all kinds of fallout has resulted. Bok fans are literally and figuratively calling for the head of Lawrence Bryce. You’re from South Africa. What’s your take?
MH: It was a great game and I think during the world cup the breakdown has been a point of debate for everyone and I honestly believe that Australia picked that up and saw that the ref was going to manage the ruck contest accordingly and they exploited that. In reading many articles through the week that focused a lot on what happened and what didn’t happen, one major point stuck out to me. Over the last 4 years the Springboks have had a very poor breakdown record. The only time it was a shining light was when they had Brussow in the game. He is a huge piece of the puzzle and the Australians made sure to eliminate him from the equation as soon as possible. You can’t blame a team for seeing a weakness and exploiting it, both on the refs behalf and the actual breakdown contest. The game is put under a microscope these days and everyone knows everyone and the way a team progresses is by recognizing its weaknesses and working on them and exploiting the oppositions weakness. Its not rocket science, but it works. If anyone should be labeled with the blame, I believe it has to be the Springbok management. They really fell short of their duties and never really gave their players the opportunity to excel at their best.

: In soccer you’ve got Hooligans, in the USA, they’ve got Boston and Philly fans. On the world stage in rugby, are Bokke fans on the same plane? If not, which fans are the most… zealous”
MH: I don’t believe you can put Springbok fans in that category. I believe maybe at the club and provincial level you could define it like that, but at International level, when your country’s proud heritage is on the line, as far as I’m concerned – anything goes. Supporters worldwide are very passionate about their National teams and in Rugby it is no different… and it shouldn’t be. Watching the game on Saturday night in a packed house at Bostons, you knew every time there was a bad call, as the fans for both teams voiced there opinion. That I believe is the passion that drives professional sport at any level.

RWU: Our man Johnathan Wicklow Barberie took some knees to the solar plexis in respect to his Sport Guru RWC Pool Picks – although he’s still leading in one and 2nd and 7th in the two other, respectively. His picks of Ireland and England were dead wrong. Is Wales going to win the RWC???
MH: I do believe that Wales will make it to the dance. As far as who they face and what there chances are, well that’s not something we can comment on with absolute certainty. I honestly do believe though that the way they are playing right now, they have the right mix of players and strategy to go all the way and that would be a hell of a story.

Bryce Lawrence

RWU: If not Wales, then who?
MH: I think it’s really between Australia and New Zealand at this point. Australia really haven’t clicked and Quade Cooper hasn’t found his footing at all, but they have dug deep and one what they need to do. I believe that Robbie “Dingo” Deans is one of the best coaches in the world and without him, Australia would be sitting on the sidelines watching at this point. He demands a lot from his players and his players have stepped up and delivered. As for New Zealand, its par for the course for them, they have come out each and every game and exerted their authority on the game and walked away with the win. Yes they have injuries and yea they are crucial, but that is why the World Cup is so hard to win and that is why it only happens every 4 years.

: Johnathan is picking a Wales/NZ final, with the All Blacks on top of the Aussies.
MH: Well, all I can really say to that is good luck. I don’t plan on predicting, I just plan on being a rugby fan and enjoying what is left of the spectacle that is the Rugby World Cup. My team went home after pool play. Now I just enjoy.

RWU: Thanks, Matthew. See you next week.
MH: Look forward to it… and hopefully your predictions are still in tact.


About Matt Hawkins 26 Articles
Matt Hawkins is the current Player/Coach of the USA Eagles 7s team. He is affectionately known as "The Polar Bear" because of his light blond hair and eyebrows. Plus, he likes grabbing salmon from Alaskan rivers.