Matches to look forward to

We have asked our expert writers here to tell us which games they are looking forward to at this World Cup the most and why.

Published by Alison Donnelly, August 17, 2010

6 minute read

Try Audio

Matches to look forward to

There is some bias in my selection because being Irish and knowing how much this team has developed, I love to see Ireland line-out but there are other reasons too. The general assumption is that the fourth semi-final spot will not come from this pool - rather it is more likely to come from pool one or three where a clearer cut second team is expected to emerge.

I understand where that logic comes from but I desperately hope that both the Irish and the Americans really believe they can make the semis because this will be a cracking clash if so.

Of all the games in the tournament, this is by far the most unpredictable. It's a battle between the new world and the old, between a team we think we know and one that surprises everyone every time they go onto the field.

Which Wales is coming to this World Cup - the exciting and (almost) all-conquering 2009 Six Nations side, or the Wooden Spoon winners of 2010? And they are up against perhaps the most exciting development in the game in recent years. From no-where South Africa exploded back onto international scene a year ago, nearly turning over France before running in four overwhelming wins over Kazakhstan and Scotland, all on the road. Just how good are they - and how far can they go?

How can I choose? Is it the opener, putting an end to the wait? Or is it England/Ireland because I love these matches thanks to parents of both nationalities? Or is it Scotland/Sweden because of the influx of Uni friends coming to watch and play? Or the final! So much nervous anticipation. Will it live up to expectation?

In truth, it may be none of these. Its the game we arent expecting! Maybe it will be the game where a smaller rugby nation shocks us with the performance of their lives.

At every major sporting event theres a match that no one sees coming; the Isner Vs Mahut match, or the New Zealand Vs Italy draw in the Football World Cup. What will be the match that lights up this tournament and takes us by surprise? Thats the one I am most looking forward to.

This World Cup I will be wearing my South African rugby shirt with pride. Two years ago, I witnessed the South African womens team play curtain-raisers at Ellis Park and Newlands Park prior to the Tri-Nations.

Receiving the honour of blazers post-match alongside the men it was evident the SARU adminstrators, the coaches and the team were striving towards the very highest accolade, the World Cup winners medal 2010. Travelling as far afield as Scotland and Dubai in search of competitive games helped to toughen up this athletic and gifted team. Head Coach Denvar Wannies, well aware of the difficulties many players from the townships faced, with lack of training and gym facilities, has created a cohesive, physical side, buoyant from a string of wins.

They have travelled the longest journey and definitely deserve our support, it is a shame they are in arguably the toughest pool.

I believe the most intriguing pool match will be France v. Canada as they are the two teams most likely to spoil the chance of an England / New Zealand final.

France are totally unpredictable which makes preparation for opposing teams difficult, whilst Canada have some really talented and experienced players with big-game nous. If both teams rise to what will undoubtedly be their hardest pool match, we will be in for a fantastic display of rugby that will test both sides competitive spirit to the core.

I am most looking forward to seeing England vs New Zealand, hopefully in the final. I photographed these teams play each other at Twickenham, and I could feel the energy from the players coming off the pitch. It was hard to concentrate on taking pictures as the standard of play was so high and the atmosphere was so charged. Seeing these teams clash in a final showdown for the cup is something I wouldn't miss - I am already excited about it!

England are my favourite team to watch and not just because I am English but because they are a superb side. This is the first match of their competition and I think it will be great to see if they can live up to the pressure of playing at home and being one of the favourites to win the title. I am also looking forward to seeing the USA team because I really admire how they have promoted the game in the USA ahead of this World Cup and I hope their rugby will have as much polish as their PR does!