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. 

Rugby Rules 101: What Does "Ruck" Mean?

For new players to the game of rugby, the concept of a "ruck" can be a tricky one to apprehend, as there is no other sport that involves rucking. However, once you've got a clearer picture of a ruck, also known as a "breakdown", it's a relatively easy thing to understand. 

Premiership Rugby Eyes Mid-August Return

Following the league shutdown due to coronavirus in March, the Gallagher Premiership looks set for a return to action on August 15th. One week ago, UK government officials announced that elite-level sports would be able to resume on June 1st behind closed doors. 

The 5 Best Women's Rugby Shorts

Having a comfortable pair of rugby shorts can greatly impact one’s performance during training and games. When choosing shorts, you want to take into consideration the fit and the durability, especially if you’re going to be in the scrum. The last thing you would want is for your shorts to rip during a scrum because the fabric was not durable enough. In addition to the durability, you want to make sure the shorts are breathable and comfortable for tackling, running, and potentially kicking. If you’re in the market for a new pair of shorts, here are five different types of shorts that you can check out:

Rugby vs Soccer: Former SEC Soccer Player Compares The Two

One of the great things about rugby is that it's a multi-skilled sport which lends itself well to crossover athletes. Particularly in a sports-mad country like the United States, we see tons of players seamlessly make the transition from other sports to rugby. 

How To Throw A Great Rugby Pass

Throwing a great pass can carve up a defense unlike any other facet of the game in rugby. A well-timed, well-placed ball puts a defense under enormous pressure and causes fractures in the defensive line. As long as the ball is placed accurately, on time, and in a position that the receiver can catch the ball on the move without breaking stride, it doesn't matter what it looks like. Heck, if we're looking at football, think of Peyton Manning's passes. One of the best quarterbacks in the history of the game rarely threw a spiral, but he did tick the boxes of accurate, on time, and in stride. 

Some Useful Rugby Passing Drills

Here is a quick, easy passing progression that will help you and your team sharpen your distribution skills and carve opponents up on the weekends. Even the best defenses in the world cannot defend near-perfect passing, so having the ability to run-catch-pass is one of the most lethal weapons in the book. 

We Stand With You

The events of the last week have been tremendously painful to us all.

Rugby Drills That Keep Your Social Distance

As of June 1st, many rugby teams have been granted the option of getting together to conduct practice. However, the practices must adhere to the six feet social distancing rules and players are not allowed to use any equipment. Therefore, options for a practice plan are going to be extremely limited, but that doesn't mean you can't still get some good out of having the team together. 

Bring Em Down: How To Tackle Big Guys In Rugby

For many of rugby players out there, especially us smaller ones, we're all too familiar with the sight of a large, rampaging big man or woman lined up across from us about to get the ball. Our fight or flight instincts kick in, and in that moment of instinctual reaction we dictate the likelihood that the tackle does or does not get made. 

Step By Step Guide: How To Break Tackles In Rugby

One of the best ways to completely unhinge a defense is to beat your defender one on one with a step or a tackle bust. While not all of us can step like Cheslin Kolbe, we do all have the ability to break a tackle and get our team on the front foot. No matter your size, speed, or strength, you can always bust out of a tackle with some clever use of footwork and a trust in your balance.