Report Cards For Quarterfinal Teams

With six of the eight quarterfinalists already decided, we have a fair idea at this stage who the real contenders are. 

So how are the six quarterfinalists looking at this stage?

New Zealand

Grade: A

The All Blacks have been extremely sharp out of the gates, specifically with their 23-13 win over South Africa. The ABs are once again showing that they can outclass even the best of the best with their innovation, depth, and commitment to excellence. 


With an upcoming quarterfinal fixture against one of Ireland, Scotland, or Japan on the cards, it looks again as if New Zealand will be among the final four teams still playing. 

England

Grade: A

Also tipped as one of the favorites coming into the competition, England have met the expectations through three games. 


They will not have to see France in their final pool game, as it has been canceled due to weather conditions, but that may not be the worst thing for them. Yes, it could throw them off of their rhythm at a time where they seem to really be clicking. 

But quite frankly they have been clicking since the start of the summer, and one game off won't derail the momentum they've generated. If anything, it gives them extra days to rest the body and get healthy for their bout with Australia. 

Wales

Grade: B+

The Welsh are undefeated through three games, with three impressive wins against Georgia, Australia, and Fiji. 

Coach Warren Gatland once again seems to have his side well-prepared for the moment, and Wales continue to prove that they know how to grind out close games. They defend well, they manufacture tries, and they have some of the best kickers on the planet to generate points. 


Where Wales could run into trouble is their health concerns. Not the deepest team in the tournament, Wales can afford less to lose key players than can England or a South Africa. The questions surrounding the fitness of Jonathan Davies, Dan Biggar, Liam Williams, and Josh Adams are massive for them with a quarterfinal tussle against France up next. 

South Africa

Grade: B+

The Springboks look formidable, as expected, with their competitive loss to the All Blacks the only blemish thus far. 

Three comprehensive blowouts later and the Boks seem to be rolling into the quarters with a lot of momentum. More importantly, they've managed to stay almost completely healthy, the only scare averted when Cheslin Kolbe's ankle X-rays turned out to be negative. 


South Africa will have one of Japan, Ireland, or Scotland in the final eight. You'd expect South Africa to be favored in any of those games, although you can never take anything for granted at the World Cup. 

Australia

Grade: B

The Wallabies have also looked strong so far, only just barely losing to Wales in their second game. 

When Australia is on, they are one of the world's best teams, bar none. Everyone saw what they could do over the summer when the put a record 48-27 beating on the All Blacks. 


The only problem so far with Australia is their propensity for starting slowly. Against Fiji, it took nearly 60 minutes for them to switch on, and against Wales they trailed by 18 points in the second half before starting the comeback. 

What's encouraging for the Wallabies is that they know they are dominant in the final quarter of games. They just can't dig themselves too big of a hole before they get to that stage. 

France

Grade: B-

The French haven't been particularly convincing through three games, but 3-0 is 3-0 and you can't ever count out France. 


Their best rugby of the tourney so far came in the opening 40 minutes against Argentina in the first game of the competition. Since then, they've struggled with the USA and with Tonga, hanging on for just a two-point win over the latter. 

It's a lot of pressure for the young halfback pairing of Antone Dupont and Romain Ntamack to lead France through the knockout phases. How they manage the big moments will go a long way towards deciding the French's fate in Japan. 

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