Does getting to #1 in the World make Wales a World Cup contender? Maybe. Let's look.
Wales clearly is a World Cup contender, and it's worth remembering that Wales has made the quarterfinals in three of the last four Rugby World Cups.
That includes a semifinal, where they lost, and also lost the 3rd-4th game. So there is work to do.
Why, then, do we think Wales can push for a place in the final? Saturday. Defense. If you subscribe to the '95 Springboks view of World Cup success, and we do, then winning 13-6 against England is a take-notice result.
Holding a team like England to six points is how you become a champion.
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Saturday, August 24
Scotland vs France (Edinburgh, 8:10 AM ET)
England vs Ireland ( London, 10:00 AM ET)
Friday, August 30
France vs Italy (Paris, 3:10 PM ET)
Saturday, August 31
Wales vs Ireland (Cardiff, 9:30 AM ET)
Saturday, September 6
Scotland vs Georgia (Edinburgh, 2:30 PM ET)
England vs Italy (Newcastle, 2:45 PM ET)
Sunday, September 7
Ireland vs Wales (Dublin, 9:00 AM ET)
Canada vs USA (Vancouver, 10:00 PM ET)
Australia shocked New Zealand August 10 and then stupidly mocked the All Blacks as old and tired. The result this week? All Blacks 36, Australia 0. Same story as Wales. Shutting out Australia, regardless of the Wallaby lineup, is a taken-notice result.
And for Australia? Well we think they have't arrived just yet. But they could ... the Wallabies have a history of ramping up performances for the World Cup. They could do it this time, too.
France decided to throw out the training manual and go back to an older way of preparation—playing rugby. Everything they have been doing gets a ball in the players' hands.
They are using the playing of the game to develop fitness and the game plan. The result is pretty impressive so far with a shellacking of Scotland. Once again, holding the opposition to no tries, make us think that maybe this is a 2011 French team in terms of success.