The Springboks will undoubtedly be the underdogs at the Rugby World Cup in France this year.
This year’s competition has been completely opened up by the unstoppable form of Andy Farrell’s Ireland and the enthusiasm of Fabian Gathie’s France. It will be evident who the favorites will be when teams begin to arrive in France in late August or early September.
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Ireland’s drive to victory in the Six Nations highlights their remarkable transformation under Farrell to the current deserving No. 1 team in the World and establishes them as heavy favorites to win the Rugby World Cup.
That debate will take place between them and the French, who decimated Warren Gatland’s Wales team on Saturday after they made a valiant but ultimately unsuccessful effort.
That debate will be between them and the French, who defeated Warren Gatland’s Wales team on Saturday to finish second despite their valiant but ultimately unsuccessful attempt.
Yet, the two teams are miles ahead of the rest of the Six Nations and will enter the competition as groups that will excite both supporters and bookmakers.
They will feel the weight of expectation and pressure, especially because the Irish team has never advanced past the showpiece tournament’s quarterfinals.
Will that burden be too much for them, or will their self-assurance and physical fitness spur them on to the most amazing run in the annals of the northern hemisphere and a Webb Ellis trophy to boot? Time will only tell.
The Irish, though, aren’t backing down from the challenge, and while some may criticize them for being arrogant, it is simple to understand why when you’ve won a Grand Slam and dominated a Six Nations tournament like they have.
As a stern warning to any potential competitors, Farrell boldly asserted that this team would do better at the World Cup than they already do.
“I’ve been telling Johnny (Sexton) that the World Cup is our next focus because there are bigger fish to fry than this (the Six Nations),” At the news conference following the game, Farrell stated, “We are a good side that has not yet achieved its potential.
“I have been stating that this is what we are attempting to do for the past couple of weeks. A few people will return, ready to compete and put in serious training.
We anticipate our side to be far better than what we are today when we get to the World Cup opener because everyone will improve during the summer when we get to spend a lot more time together, and that is the fact.
Therefore, in the glittering array of glory that has followed the French and Irish sides, where does this leave the Springboks and their championship defense?
No one has benefited, without a sure, from the draw that put the top five teams in the world on the same side.
The combat that lies ahead will be harsh and intense, exactly the kind of fight that the Springboks are designed for because of the enormous gap between the top four teams right now and the rest.
The All Blacks vs Boks will meticulously plan their run despite the fact that they will go unnoticed and receive less attention than the host nation and the emerald green side.