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Sunday, October 9, 2011

1987 Revisited...

1987 was a watershed year in my life. My son Ian was born in 1987, the Minnesota Twins won their first ever World Series Title in baseball...and the All Blacks won the very first Rugby World Cup at Eden Park.
Eden Park-New Zealand's Mecca of Rugby
In this 2011 Rugby World Cup, my quarterfinal picks were not very accurate-just 1/4 out of my picks. were correct. I only had the All Blacks win against Argentina as being accurate. What this means is that the final four for 2011 is identical to that in 1987: Wales, France, New Zealand and Australia. The difference is that this time the semifinal match ups will be different: New Zealand will play Australia and France will play Wales.

The thing that sticks out of this year's final four is that they have all played much of this tournament with ball in hand. Back in 1987, the game that sticks out most in my mind is that semi-final between France and Australia, won by by the French in the dying minutes on Serge Blanco's wonder-try.
An Official RWC Ball signed by the Pumas.

Australia was outplayed by South Africa, France lost not one, but two preliminary round games, Wales lost a game to South Africa in the preliminary round, and the All Blacks are playing without Dan Carter. Each team going into the semi-finals seems to have an issue.

I still think that whoever wins the semi-final between the Wallabies and the All Blacks will win this World Cup. I also think that Wales will beat France-not because they are the better side, it's just that in past World Cups, whenever France has played a good game, they follow it up with a mediocre performance. I think that bodes well for Wales. That said, given that France has been the bogeyman a couple of times in stopping the All Blacks, there would be a certain symmetry if the All Blacks would play France in this year's final.

I still think the All Blacks will get by Australia-who have not had a ton of success against New Zealand on Kiwi soil.  There are just so many sub-plots going into the semifinals, the rugby press will have a field day this week. All I know is that France has never won the RWC title, in spite of two finals appearances. Wales has never been in the final-indeed, this year marks the first time Wales has made the semi-finals since that first RWC in 1987. at this point, I am picking the All Blacks to play Wales in the final at Eden Park.
The Statue of David Gallaher at Eden Park

Let the build-up begin. The ghosts of prior All Blacks like David Gallaher will be watching...

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