Rugby World Cup Preview: Wallabies avoid crisis, move on to face Pumas

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Australia v Argentina:  Twickenham Stadium, Sunday 12 pm ET

Australia had lost.

With only a few minutes left to play in last week’s Quarterfinal and trailing by two points at Twickenham, they had been outworked by Scotland, and their World Cup ambitions appeared to be toasted.

Wait…What?

Australia had won! In what will forever be a bile inducing memory for the Scots, the Wallabies were on the sweet side of the most controversial call in the tournament.  With the air suddenly gone in a very Scotch partisan stadium, Aussie kicker Bernard Foley lined up a penalty and drove a three point dagger into Highland hearts to steal a one point victory.

Hours before Australia made their Houdini-like escape from Twickenham, the Argentinians had beaten up an already battered Irish side in Cardiff. With several key Ireland players watching from the grandstand, the Pumas smelled blood.  They were savage up front, and lethal on attack, asking many questions of an Irish defense that, simply ran out of answers.

Keys:

Expect Australia to use their early Christmas gift to acknowledge a mediocre performance and then rebound with a vengeance. Roboflanker David Pocock is back for the Wallabies. He will team with Michael Hooper and Scott Fardy for the first time since they embarrassed England a month ago, but the fastest back row in rugby had better be on their game, because the burly young Argentinian forwards pack a serious punch.

Australia’s scrum coach is Mario Ledesma, the famous Argentinian prop, who has added skill and grit to a formerly struggling Aussie pack (but may be secretly pulling for the Pumas). Scrum time becomes an enticing component of the match with pride on the line.

The Argentine backline, historically prone to the kicking game, now dares to attack from anywhere, even deep in their own half.  But they must show up on defense to have a chance to stop Australia.

Late in this game, it will come down to who gets better minutes from their benches.

Advantage Australia.

 

World Rugby postponing July test matches

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World Rugby has postponed July test matches involving southern and northern hemisphere nations because of ongoing restrictions on international travel during the coronavirus pandemic.

The sport’s international governing body issued a statement Friday saying the mid-year test window will be rescheduled when cross-border travel and quarantine regulations are relaxed.

New Zealand had been scheduled to play Wales and Scotland, Australia was set to play Ireland and Fiji and South Africa had planned to host Scotland and Georgia. World Rugby said the postponement is due “to ongoing government and health agency COVID-19 directives.”

Bill Beaumont re-elected as World Rugby chairman

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Former England captain Bill Beaumont has been re-elected as World Rugby chairman on Saturday after beating Agustín Pichot, the current vice-chairman.

The sport’s governing body says the 68-year-old Beaumont achieved a first-round majority of 28 votes to 23.

Beaumont says: “I am honored to accept the mandate of the World Rugby Council to serve as the international federation’s chairman once again.”

He begins his four-year term after a council meeting on May 12.

French rugby federation president Bernard Laporte becomes Beaumont’s new vice-chairman.