WRWC Playoff Semi-finals Review and Finals Preview

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Can tryNEW YORK, NY – What a playoff round in the Women’s RWC! This competition has been filled with some matches that can only be described as instant classics. Before we go on, though, I want to comment re those that have not seen or are disinterested. At the latest meeting of the Rugby Rain Man Collective at the Hall of Rugby, a rain man known as Carl Mann (real name disguised for secrecy) complained that he could not get through a quarter of the Ireland vs New Zealand game as it just didn’t match a men’s game in speed, skill and physicality. A near riot ensued from the fellow members.

He was shouted down by over 30 members infuriated by such a comment. Beyond it being sexist, he was hit with, “You watch schoolboys rugby up to men’s international and the problems with handling and attack are prevalent there!” and  “Guess you must never watch a match live and wait till it is deemed the height of rugby to watch a match.” I simply chimed in with, “Are you a rugby fan or not? This is rugby played by the best players each nation has. Playing their heart out for their country. If you can’t enjoy a rugby game played at the highest level possible for its age grade or gender, pro or amateur, by players playing for national pride, then something is wrong with you and not the game.”  This tournament has had some great enterprising rugby with incredible displays of defense and resolve. It is going to do down as the best Women’s RWC to date.

Stade Jean Bouin hosted an entertaining round of semi-final matches for the championship. The Irish lasses had played an inspired brand of rugby to date and after taking down the reigning champions, AIG New Zealand Black Ferns, it was very conceivable that these ladies could go all the way. Unfortunately, the old enemy, the English stood in their way and the English were not to be deterred from reaching their goal. The English faced a fight from the Irish but rolled on like a machine toward a comprehensive victory. In the other semi, France and Canada fought to an intense thriller. Going into the game the main question was which teams promising run would be stopped? The Canadians have shown great form for over a year including their Australasia tour whilst Les Feminines of France are the reigning women’s 6N Champions. Something had to give and something did give, even if just barely. The Canadian defense remained resolute enough combined with the performance by wing and IRB Player of the Year Nominee Magali Harvey . Harvey scored arguably the try of the tournament as she went the full length of the field and also kicked  2 pens and a conversion to steer Canada to victory. P.S: Her birthday is Saturday, she turns 24, we have a good idea of a great gift for her.

Here are the results:
WED – 13th AUG
Ireland 7 – 40 England
France 16 – 18 Canada

5th Place
USA v Aus womenThe 4 time champion, AIG New Zealand Black Ferns had a sickening feeling in the pit of their stomach when they found out they didn’t qualify for the championship playoffs. They were angry and they planned on unleashing their anger on someone. That poor unsuspecting someone was none other than Wales. The Ferns smashed through the Welsh, who try as they might never stood a chance. In the other semi-final for 5th place we were treated to a thriller. This match took 3 minutes into extra time before the ref finally blew the whistle. It was a nip and tuck affair through out but the Aussies held a a good lead against the USA. The USA fought back and clawed their way into a tie. Then came the most insane 8 minutes of the WRWC so far. The USA won a penalty on the Aussie 5 meter line but instead of kicking for goal, they wanted a scrum. They won the scrum then promptly got called for an obstruction thereby giving the Wallaroos a scrum on their own 5. The USA won the scrum against the head and drove forth. An “in from the side” penalty against Australia was called, which the USA promptly kicked for goal. The USA secured the kickoff then had a few pick and goes before they kicked to touch to end the game. Or so they thought. The ref said there was still time on the clock and awarded Australia, the lineout. The Aussies win the lineout, then do a series of pick and go’s. They keep it tight and march down the field and then the USA is penalized at the breakdown. Fortunately for the USA, the pressure gets to Wallaroos kicker Ashleigh Hewson and she pulls it wide. USA wins and Eagle warrior/legend Jamie Burke celebrates her 50th cap with a big win.

Here are the results:
WED – 13th AUG
New Zealand 63 – 7 Wales
Australia 20 – 23 USA

Spain v Kazakh9th Place
The facet of having games played for every final position in the WRWC and in the Junior RWC should be something that is incorporated into the Mens RWC. This gives the nations bringing up the rear a chance to play some teams more on their level. It actually creates thrilling minnow v minnow contest. That was again the case as South Africa and Samoa face off. The two countries are still struggling for respect on the world stage but have done a great job of advertising the game in their countries as they produced a great match. The enthralling encounter finished with South Africa eeking out a 1 point victory. Spain faced a tough Kazakh women’s side that has overcome a lot to have gotten this far. The mighty Kazakhs faced a Spain team that was a little more desperate and defended as such as they managed to dig deep enough for victory.

Here are the results:
WED – 13th AUG
South Africa 25 – 24 Samoa
Spain 18 – 5 Kazakhstan

As mentioned, the WRWC has playoffs for 1st place between the top 4 teams, 5th place between the 5-8th place teams, 9th place between the 9th-12th place teams. The teams that lose the semi-finals have to still play for 3rd/4th place, 5th/6th and 11th/last place. So all the teams playing will get one more game and a chance to leave with at least one victory.

We meet again!!
We meet again!!

Championship & 3rd Place
It’s a re-match of the Pool A clash that ended a draw between Canada and England. This time there is no sharing the spoils. It is anyone’s guess as to who will emerge the winner of this match and the tournament. England likely remain the favorites. France and Ireland will lick their wounds and look to finish their tournament on a happy note. The hosts had a successful 6N at the expense of the Irish so there will be added motivation for this match.

Here is the Schedule:
SAT – 17th AUG
Canada – England
France – Ireland

5th & 7th Place
This final will also feature a rematch from pool play. The Black Ferns and Eagles will pick up where they left off. The Ferns are looking to show the world that the loss to the Irish was but a blip and if not for the draw between Canada and England, they would be playing for the title. The USA is looking to climb the next rung of the ladder and go from a really good team to one of the best in the world. No better way to prove that than to beat the Ferns. Australia in all honesty will walk away from this World Cup frustrated by the winnable games they let slip. They will romp over Wales as they are just a class above them.

Here is the Schedule:
SAT – 17th AUG
New Zealand – USA
Australia – Wales

9th & 11th Place
Spain and South Africa will look to walk away from this tournament with two victories. That would be huge to the growth of their game in their respective countries. It is a toss up as to who will win. Believe it or not, the match between Kazakhstan and Samoa stands to be a exciting and tense affair. The two sides are  evenly matched and it is a battle to avoid the wooden spoon.

Here is the Schedule:
SAT – 17th AUG
Spain – South Africa
Kazahkstan – Samoa

Before we go, Here is Magali Harvey’s great try

That’s it for now. Feel free to comment below, look for and “Like” our Facebook Rugby Wrap Up Page and follow us on Twitter@: RugbyWrapUp,Junoir Blaber, DJ Eberle, Nick Hall, James Harrington, Cody Kuxmann, Jaime Loyd, Karen Ritter , Jamie Wall, Jake Frechette and Declan Yeats, respectively.

….And as always, stay low and keep pumping those legs.

About Junoir Blaber 868 Articles
Born in Osu, Accra, Ghana, West Africa, Junoir Blaber is a rare commodity; while most Ghanians eat, sleep and dream Soccer (football), Junoir is all about Rugby. A self-proclaimed Rugbyologist, he has been involved in Rugby as a ref, coach, administrator and player since Columbus discovered Ohio. His useful/trivial rugby knowledge qualify Blaber as RWU's Senior Correspondent & known in rugby circles as The Rugby Rain Man. He can also be found moonlighting for our American partners at MeetTheMatts.com.