1 Oct 2019

Rugby World Cup: RNZ's thoughts on the rugby

6:03 pm on 1 October 2019

We asked our team of reporters covering the Rugby World Cup for their take on the issues of the Cup. Here is what they had to say.

japan rugby team celebrates a win over Ireland. Rugby World Cup 2019.

Japan beating Ireland has been a highlight for most of the RNZ team at the Rugby World Cup. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

What was the best game you've seen at this Cup so far?

Joe Porter, RNZ rugby reporter:

Japan beating Ireland 19-12 of course!

The Brave Blossoms played extremely well, looked prepared and committed and the Irish couldn't keep pace.

Masterful performance from the hosts to make history (first ever win over Ireland) and they're now in the driver's seat to make more history by making the quarterfinals of a World Cup for the first time.

Stephen Hewson, RNZ sports editor:

It's a tie - All Blacks vs South Africa and Wales vs Australia both for different reasons.

The All Blacks-Springboks gives a guide as to how the tournament will pan out.

It will probably be the final in November and showed the All Blacks still have their number.

A tense encounter but just the opening performance the All Blacks needed to put up.

Australia vs Wales was a good game to simply watch - it had a bit of everything and was always going to be a close encounter.

End to end play, ebb and flow of domination and then a bunch of interesting refereeing decisions.

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Wales beating Australia was an important match in the grand scheme of the Rugby World Cup, according to RNZ Sports Editor Stephen Hewson Photo: Photosport

Vinnie Wylie, RNZ Pacific sports reporter:

As a game it would be Australia vs Fiji.

It was game two of the tournament, there was genuine hope for an upset and Fiji scored the first try in either half to grab the lead.

There was also plenty of drama with the Reece Hodge tackle, which removed Fiji's star performer in the first 25 minutes.

This was all capped off by the stunning surrounds of the Sapporo Dome, which really is a facility to behold.

But if I'm voting on crowds and atmosphere then Argentina vs Tonga hands-down.

Higashiosaka felt like Buenos Aires on occasion as the Pumas fans turned up in numbers, decked in blue and white and sang and cheered the whole game.

There were pockets of red throughout the ground but they were no match.

Leilani Momoisea, RNZ engagement editor:

Japan vs Russia was spectacular due to the opening ceremony and the excitement of it being the host nation's first match.

You can't beat seeing the haka in real life, especially at an All Blacks vs South Africa match.

The South African fans beat out New Zealand fans when it came to chanting and singing, but it was great seeing the All Blacks get so much support from the Japanese fans who came fully decked out in ABs supporters gear.

My fave was the Manu Samoa vs Russia match because I support Samoa over all else.

The Manu fans were loud and proud, and it was great watching the team hold on even though they had only had 13 men on the field at one point.

Samoa's centre Rey Lee-Lo (R) scores a try  during the Japan 2019 Rugby World Cup Pool A match between Russia and Samoa at the Kumagaya Rugby Stadium in Kumagaya.

Ray Lee-Lo scoring a try against Russia in Samoa's opening win at the Rugby World Cup. Photo: AFP

Which player or coach has impressed you most?

Vinnie Wylie:

Fiji flanker Peceli Yato (before he got injured!) was in everything on attack and defence, David Pocock and Ardie Savea were pilfering balls left, right and centre, England winger Anthony Watson must have been wearing vaseline he was so hard to tackle, Telusa Veainu gave Tonga some much needed spark on attack with two tries and an ability to beat defenders while the Russian number 12 (who's name I don't even know) was a constant threat with ball in hand vs Russia.

As for coaches, Michael Cheika is unique in the way he wears his heart on his sleeve - there's no such thing as a bog-standard rugby answer from him.

Russian coach Lyn Jones was also very engaging in assessing the game with a dose of humour.

Stephen Hewson:

So far it has to be Jamie Joseph coach of the Japan.

The former All Black has taken the host nation to another upset in the win over Ireland to go with the toppling of the Springboks in 2015.

Joe Porter:

Jamie Joseph, former All Black in charge of Japan.

He's been preparing the host nation for a long time for this tournament, saying Ireland had only been thinking about them for six or seven days, while Japan had been thinking about Ireland for months.

His game plan against Ireland was superb and if they make the knockout stages and continue their form, he'll put his name in the mix to be the next All Blacks coach.

Japan head coach Jamie Joseph.

Japan coach Jamie Joseph Photo: PHOTOSPORT

We're about half-way through the pool matches - which do you think is a side to keep an eye on?

Leilani Momoisea:

After that win over Ireland, I'm sure most people are now keeping an eye on Japan.

I'm always going for the Manu, and would love to see the other Pacific teams get some wins under their belts too.

Vinnie Wylie:

From a Pacific angle, Fiji was all the talk pre-tournament but so far Samoa have quietly gone about their work.

They were made to work hard against a dogged Russian team (with 13 men for a period) but finished strong and there's a real feeling, off the back of the suspensions to Rey Lee-Lo and Motu Matu'u and following the Japan Ireland result.

Joe Porter:

Japan, can they make history and reach the quarters?

They have Samoa this weekend and Scotland to come, and with wins now expected in both those games (Scotland should be nervous) they may well top pool A.

Stephen Hewson:

Japan - may sneak into the final eight.

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