The 2023 Rugby World Cup will soon be upon us. 20 teams, two months but there can only be one winner. France has set the stage for the long anticipated tournament with teams and fans raring to go.
Controversy around this tournament had already started in qualifying round. Spain had won their qualifier to only be disqualified, as their team consisted of ineligible players. A rookie move considering that they had already been caught out for this in previous years.
However, there are lots of unanswered questions going into the World Cup that are weighing on fans. So Brig is here to shed some light.
The new bunker system
The Rugby World Cup is the first time the new bunker system is being implemented in this magnitude. The new system will help improve referees accuracy when making foul-play rulings.
This allows referees up to eight minutes to review footage of foul-play using new TMO (television match official) technology. Which means referees can see the incidents multiple times from a broad range of angles.
In addition to this it allows referees to make this decision away from fans, players and the pressure of short time constraints. Referees after reviews can change any yellow card given to a red card if they see fit. This new system will enforce the safety procedures that the World Rugby Association has implemented to crack down on head injuries.
The most prominent incident of the new bunker system so far, was when Owen Farrell was issued an on-field yellow card for his high tackle against Welsh flanker, Taine Basham. Upon later review, it evolved into a red card which caused outrage among English fans.
It will be exciting see this new element of the game on a global stage.
England’s lethal weapon… their lawyer
A common opinion shared by the oppositions fans is that the best player on the England squad isn’t Marcus Smith, it isn’t Manu Tuilagi, it definitely isn’t Owen Farrell. It’s their lawyer, Richard Smith.
As the new bunker system is producing more red cards this means more players are receiving game suspensions. Including previously mentioned England captain, Owen Farrell, who received a red card resulting in a six game ban. However, the initial penalty was reduced to four games due to Farrell’s remorse and sportsman-like behaviour after the incident.
Unfortunately for Farrell he couldn’t get a further reduction by joining tackle school as he had already attended this summer. Therefore, the saga continued with Smith’s decision towards an appeal which led to a review with an individual judiciary committee, who Smith persuaded to the change the verdict to a yellow card. Therefore, the ban was downgraded to a two match suspension.
No one knows what happened in that evaluation however, concerns are being asked around the England squad’s attitude to safety: that they would rather have their star player on the team regardless of the safety of the other players. A belief that has caused outrage among rugby professionals and fans alike.
What we do know is that Richard Smith is fast becoming England’s lethal weapon.
The group of death
Another big controversy going into the Rugby World Cup is the group picks. For the beginning stages of the competition there are four groups of five. Every team in their individual group play each other and the top two ranking teams progress into the next stages.
The first stages of the group picks started in December 2020 where the 12 automatic qualifiers were sorted into bands by their world ranking. Therefore, when the selection process progressed into the final groups picks the teams within each groups would have a range of abilities and ranks to make the overall competition as fair as possible.
However, as the primarily stages were chosen nearly three years ago, teams’ rankings have drastically changed. This flaw created what fans are calling “the group of death” otherwise known as pool B. Pool B consists of three of the current top five world ranked teams, Ireland (1), South Africa (3) and Scotland (5); with the addition of Tonga and Romania.
Scotland fans are anxious about this grouping as they rightful fear that this initial selection will unfairly stop them progressing in the competition. However, this is arguably the best Scotland squad we have seen in years, spearheaded by veteran coach Greg Townsend there is still a chance they can emerge victorious against South Africa. Sadly, the same can not be said for Ireland if their Six Nations defeat was anything to go on.
However, Scotland is never short of surprises, for the good and the bad.
Are Argentina the underdogs of the competition?
Scotland will be ready for a fight, but the title of the underdog of the competition is where Argentina is concerned. Argentina are going into the World Cup riding on a high after beating Australia on their home turf. They even made South Africa sweat in their last match.
Argentina has got a well balanced power forward squad and is arguably the most improved team in the competition. Fortunately for them England’s golden boys Owen Farrell and Billy Vunipola will remain suspended for their first game, which will only play in the Pumas’ favour.
Regardless of who lifts the trophy at the end, Argentina are going to make this tournament an exciting watch.
This year Rugby World Cup is guaranteed to be a gripping competition. Keep up with Brig for all the updates and coverage.
Featured Image: Planet Rugby