Rugby World Cup 2019: Group A as Attractive

The favorite: Ireland

Irish opening half Jonathan Sexton, March 1, in Dublin. PAUL ELLIS / AFP

His official goal: finally win a match in the World Cup finals, the Irish have never exceeded quarters.

Its unofficial goal: winning the World Cup, after a year of glamorous 2018, concluded with a single loss (against Australia 18-9) and a feat against the All Blacks (16-9).

Its history: Six-time quarter-finalist in eight participations.

The player to follow: Jonathan Sexton. The 34-year-old opening half was voted the world's best player of the year 2018. That same year, at the Six Nations Tournament, he was the one who deprived the Blues of the victory at the last second on a Amazing drop on February 3rd. A month later, the Greens made the Grand Slam.

The anecdote: "Sexton should think about stopping before it's too late," wrote the Irish journalist George Hook in theIrish Independent in 2016. The player was back in the field after eighty-four days of recovery from a knockout. Jonathan Sexton will soon have as many concussions as the number (10) associated with his post, which feeds controversy over the violence of rugby.

The surname : the XV of Trefoil. According to legend, it would be associated with St. Patrick and his mission of evangelization of Ireland: St. Patrick would have used a clover with three leaves to illustrate the Holy Trinity. In the XVIIIe century, clover became a symbol of patriotism, especially during the revolution of 1798, during which political groups such as the United Irish Society adopted the green color of the plant. The clover then naturally became the symbol of the Irish XV.

The colorful haiku that would suit them well:

The green
Is the color
Who sustend
The best.
And the blue
Made parasol.

Malcolm de Chazal (1902-1981)

The outsider: Scotland

Scottish Finn Russell escapes the Irish tackle Luke Fitzgerald.
Scottish Finn Russell escapes the Irish tackle Luke Fitzgerald. SCOTT HEPPELL / AP

His official goal: reach for the first time the semi-finals of the World Cup.

Its unofficial goal: steal the show from Ireland and finish first in group A.

Its history: a fourth place in 1991 against New Zealand (13-6) and six times quarter-finalist in eight editions.

The player to follow: Finn Russell. The opening half is the pearl of this team from Scotland: he has a very good vision of the game and does not let his opponents read his intentions. He was elected man of the match at Twickenham at Six Nations against England (38-38), on March 16: author of an essay on interception and two transformations, and especially at the initiative of most Scottish counterattacks. He will celebrate his 27th birthday on September 23rd.

The anecdote: Scotland and Ireland, though neighbors, played only once against each other in a World Cup. It was in 1991 and the Scots beat Ireland 24 to 15.

The surname : XV thistle. Stéphane Bern would tell it much better, but here's the legend: in medieval Scotland, the Vikings try to invade the country in the middle of the night. At the edge of Slains Castle, they decide to go barefoot to avoid making noise. Alas, a Viking walks on a thistle and can not help screaming his pain, alerting the Scottish guards of the castle, who repel them. This victory inspired the creation of the Chardon knightly order, still very famous today in the British nobility.

The sad haiku that would suit them well:

This lemonade
Without bubbles –
That is my life.

Sumitaku Kenshin (1961-1987)

The spoiler: Japan

Japanese winger Karne Hesketh celebrates his try in the pool match against South Africa in 2015.
Japanese winger Karne Hesketh celebrates his try in the pool match against South Africa in 2015. LIONEL BONAVENTURE / AFP

His official goal: reach the top 8.

Its unofficial goal: party at home and so go as far as possible.

Its history: the land of the Sun-Rising never spent the pools in eight participations.

The player to follow: Michael Leitch. He is the captain of the Japanese XV. Born in Christchurch from a New Zealand father and a Fijian mother, the third row with 59 caps (31 years old) knows how to make the right decisions at the right time. At the last World Cup, against South Africa, he decides, while his team is led by three points, to play a final penalty in hand, against the advice of his coach Eddie Jones who advised him to to type it. As a result, Japan wins 34 to 32, where no one was waiting for them. It is the 2015 World Cup match.

The anecdote: and besides, this player makes the buzz. A few days before the competition, Michael Leitch met Shinzo Abe, the Japanese prime minister, and offered him a shirt signed by all the players on the team.

The surname : The Japanese rugbymen were previously nicknamed "cherry blossoms" – or cherry blossoms – in reference to sakura, the ornamental cherry trees of Japan whose bloom marks the arrival of spring. Since 2003, the nickname has changed: the Japanese quinzists have become the "Brave Blossoms", that is to say the brave Cherry trees, in order to honor the valor of the players during their defeat against Scotland (32- 11) at the World Cup in 2003.

The floral haiku that would suit them well:

Stars in the eyes
Wishing to see the flowers
On the weeping cherry trees.

Matsuo Basho (1644-1695)

The two big odds

Russian Vasily Artemyev is tackled by an Italian player in a World Cup pool match in 2011.
Russia's Vasily Artemyev is tackled by an Italian player in a World Cup pool match in 2011. ROSS SETFORD / AP


His official goal: win a match against Japan in opening or Samoa on 24 September.

Its unofficial goal: beat both flat.

Its history: it will be his second World Cup, after the one in 2011 when Russia finished last in its pool, without any victory.

The player to follow: Andrei Ostrikov. The 32-year-old second-row has only 32 selections but remarkable physical qualities: very good jumper, effective in ruck areas. He went through Agen, Aurillac, Sale (England) and now evolves in Grenoble, in Pro D2.

The anecdote: If you do not know how Russia qualified, we promise you that it's worth the trip. At the Six Nations B Tournament in 2018, Spain lost to Belgium, where everyone saw it win. The result is a long court battle with the controversial controversy of Romanian Vlad Iordaneschu in the center. Coincidence or not, the setback of the Spaniards offers at first the ticket for the world to the Romanians. When the verdict of this stormy affair is finally delivered by the International Federation, May 15, 2018, it is a coup de theater: the three teams involved are disqualified for the World Cup and Russia takes his ticket to Japan .

The surname : the Bears. The most likely reason for this nickname is that the largest population of brown bears is in Russia.

The air haiku that would suit them well:

Air movement
The bear in the clouds
Becomes a sheep

Dominique Chipot (1958-)

Samoan Tim Nanai-Williams escapes the All Black Sam Cane tackle on June 16, 2017, in New Zealand.
Samoan Tim Nanai-Williams escapes the All Black Sam Cane tackle on June 16, 2017, in New Zealand. MICHAEL BRADLEY / AFP


His official goal: return to the quarter-finals.

Its unofficial goal: show that in the face of big rugby nations, they can do feats. Their only game of preparation against a national team was against Australia, who kindly reached out to them in September (defeat 34-15). Other nations are now refusing to travel so far for their summer tours.

Its history: seven participations and twice quarter-finalists, in 1991 and 1995.

The player to follow: Piula Fa'asalele. The third-line, injured in 2015, will play his first World Cup, at 31 years old. He won the Brennus shield with Toulouse this season, and worked miracles in all the clubs where he went: in 2012, for example, he won with La Rochelle the final of accession that allows the club to find the Top 14.

The anecdote: Samoa could not have played the World Cup in 2015. The players had threatened to go on strike and not play the preparation matches due to lack of financial support from their federation. At the time, they wrote a letter to the IRB (now World Rugby): "Coaches do not have the free hands to pick the best players, there is no financial transparency. Since 1990, our touring allowance has been frozen at NZ $ 1,000 (about 580 euros) and all our requests for revision of this sum have been ignored. Players are expected to pay for their return ticket to Samoa. " The Toulouse census Johnston and Iosefa Tekori were excluded from the selection. The federation had promised to find a solution to settle the dispute.

The surname : Manu Samoa. This is the name of a former Samoan chief. That's all.

The warrior haiku that would suit them well:

Under the weeds
From the old battlefield,
Dreams of soldiers …

Matsuo Basho (1644-1695)

Group A calendar

Only the top two teams in Group A will advance to the quarter-finals.

Friday, September 20th: Japan-Russia, Tokyo (12:45, French time)

Sunday, September 22: Ireland-Scotland, Yokohama (9:45 am)

Tuesday, September 24th: Russia-Samoa, Kumagaya (12:15)

Saturday, September 28th: Japan-Ireland, Shizuoka (9:15 am)

Monday, September 30th: Scotland-Samoa, Kobe (12:15)

Thursday, 3rd October : Ireland-Russia, Kobe (12:15)

Saturday, October 5th: Japan-Samoa, Toyota (12:30 pm)

Wednesday 9th October: Scotland-Russia, Shizuoka (9:15 am)

Saturday, October 12th: Ireland-Samoa, Fukuoka (12:45)

Sunday, October 13th: Japan-Scotland, Yokohama (12:45)

Rugby World: Find all the groups

Group A: all you need to know about Ireland, Scotland, Japan, Russia and Samoa.

Group B: all you need to know about New Zealand, South Africa, Italy, Namibia and Canada.

Group C: all you need to know about France, England, Argentina, Tonga and the United States.

Group D: all you need to know about Australia, Wales, Georgia, Fiji and Uruguay.


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