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Touchline talk: All Blacks to choke?

With the November tours done and dusted, it makes for some interesting debate looking towards next year's 'holy grail'.

Honestly, I believe it is going to be the most ‘open’ World Cup ever. Yes, Wales, Ireland, France, Argentina and the Wallabies probably will not win it, but, there could be a few surprises come final whistle time in various games. Bone crushing teams like Tonga and Samoa will ‘hurt and bruise’ teams, which could lead to injuries.

The All Blacks are still years ahead of any other team on this planet. Yes, forget about the late 'producer’s penalty’ that allowed Pat Lambie to narrowly beat the world champions at Ellis Park. The All Blacks and Steve Hansen had the 'balls' to pick a 'weaker' All Black team and still beat a fiery Scots team. Yes, they were pushed to the limit, but, just think how those fringe players benefited from actually playing and been tested, instead of holding tackle bags for weeks. Heyneke Meyer missed out doing that against Italy!

The Irish, Wallabies, English, Wales and Boks are like Boishai, Paul Roos or Paarl Gym vs Grey Bloem. They will be confident and prepared for the battle; however, Grey will win 9/10 clashes. In World Cup tournaments, you only need to win that 1/10 to get the Kiwis packing early again.

Going into next year’s ultimate rugby tournament, The All Blacks again will go in as favourites. No problem there. History has shown that the All Blacks only won ‘Bill’ twice and when it was played ‘across the ditch’! Everywhere else, they ‘choked’!

England had a disappointing month, losing to the Boks and All Blacks, although only by three points. However, to write off the English at home would just be silly. The history of the World Cup has shown that except for France and Wales, all the host nations played in the final. So, England should have a big shot of making the final.

England thus in the final; that is if England top the ‘pool of death’? It is a harsh reality to think that either Wales, England or Aussies are not going to make the quarterfinals. Whoever ends second will probably face the Springboks in the quarters, presuming the Boks will top their pool. Even worse, is that the winner of that quarters will play the All Blacks in the semis unless, the Kiwis choke against either Ireland or France (whoever ended second in that pool). It can happen!

Ireland’s chance is real. After beating the Boks and Wallabies they have all the confidence and astute coach in Joe Schmidt. As current Six Nations champions they must favour themselves beating the French in their pool game in Cardiff? They achieve that, then they will probably face either the Pumas or Tonga in the quarters.

So if you are a gambling man and Aussieboer is rubbish at it, it might be worth a punt on an England vs All Blacks final? Unless the French does the Boks (and the world a favour) by knocking the Kiwis out again in a possible quarters. Then a Boks vs England final could be on the cards?

If Meyer has not realised that the box kick as part of the Boks game plan is rubbish to put it mildly and the Boks should carry the ball in hand, they will not make it further than the quarterfinals. This old Bulls, kick-chase-pray game plan is outdated. Not only do the Boks kick the ball away, contesting for the ball in the air has cost the Boks now many penalties and yellow cards for playing the man in the air. Kicking possession away forces you to make many more tackles and that takes the energy out a team more than carrying the ball.

A possible winner will be out of either the All Blacks, England, Ireland or the Springboks?

Can the All Blacks become the first team to win ‘Bill’ back to back? They surely deserve it!

History of home teams making the finals:

1987 in NZ: All Blacks won vs France

1991 in England: Aus won vs England

1995 in SA: Boks won vs the All Blacks

1999 in Wales: Wallabies won vs France

2003 in Aus: Aus lost to England

2007 in France: Boks won vs England

2011 in NZ: All Blacks won vs France

By Kevin de Goede

@KevinD959

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