Thursday, September 13, 2007
The pool stages of the Rugby World Cup aren't about figuring out who the serious contenders for the Cup are. We pretty much know that already.
Of course, there will be upsets, but really it's about giving the so called "minnows" a chance to have their moment in the limelight. In some cases these teams will use this chance to shine and seize the opportunity with both hands.
This is what we saw when Ireland played Namibia in what should have been a thrashing by the experienced Irish outfit against a small African country that is primarily made up of amateurs and club players. However, team-work was truly the source of this underdog story.
Yes, Ireland were victorious on the night, but the real victory was Namibia's passion, teamwork and dogged competitiveness.
They slowed Ireland's ball, they defended courageously and they attacked opportunistically. The final score was 32-17 in Ireland's favour, but really, it was a night the Namibians will never forget. A night when college players took on seasoned professionals in the game we all love. This was the true spirit of rugby. Playing for the man next to you and never giving up is the way rugby was always meant to be played.
Had Ireland's final try been referred to the TMO, it would have quite possibly been disallowed. Plus, I can't help but think if the ball had bounced differently in one or two instances the scoreline could've been even closer.
Here's to Namibia and all developing rugby nations. If the World Cup has shown us one thing so far, it's that these smaller nations undoubtedly deserve their place on stage, as supporting roles in the greatest show on earth.