If Pool A was the pool of Death, than Pool B was certainly the pool of hope for the Brave Blossoms after the Pools opening match had Japan defeat South Africa 34-32. This is the biggest upset in Rugby history and the biggest surprise from Japan since 1941.
In a modern rugby Age were a team like South Africa has access to hundreds of full time professional rugby players to fill out their roster, losing to a lowly tier 2 nation such as Japan seemed literally incredible.
South Africa has won the Walter Ellis 29% of the time and Japan has only ever one 1 game at the RWC, and that was 24 years ago against Zimbabwe.
Think 1980 “miracle on ice” where USA beat the Russians, except if it had happened in Moscow instead of Lake Placid. Think 1990 where buster Douglas beat Mike Tyson, except if it was fought in a prison and allowed biting instead of in a ring. Think 1992 when the USA Men’s Basketball Dream Team lost to Cuba…Ok, that last one didn’t happen. In fact, USA won by 79 points(136-57). South Africa winning this game versus Japan by 79 points would have been much easier to conceive than the actual result of Japan winning.
Since this Pool opener, The Spring Boks have rebounded, found there form and situated themselves atop the pool, where they were originally expected to sit. In yesterdays game versus the USA, South Africa won 64-0 while leaving tries on the field. Best thing about this game was that Bok wing Bryan Habana’s hat-trick saw him equal All Black great Jonah Lomu’s try-scoring record (15) at Rugby World Cups. Habana nearly had a 4th, but for a knock, on a pick up, just short of the line.
There are two remaining games. Samoa vs Scotland and USA vs Japan. Scotland and Japan are neck and neck fighting for the 2nd pool spot and interestingly enough, in the most recent matches Scotland lost to Samoa(2013) and Japan lost to USA earlier this year. It is expected that Scotland will defeat Samoa, and if so they would solidify the second spot on the Pool. For Scotland, Finn Russell and Ross Ford are both fit, and Hogg at Full Back is poised for a breakout game.
Samoa has no chance to catch Scotland in the Pool standings and are only in position to play the spoiler. This will be a big test to both Scotland Rugby and to the Tony Kornheiser Population Theory(if it applies to rugby)http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Population+Theory
Lets look into this population thing a little more to give you context. Samoa is quite amazing: Samoa has a population of only 190 thousand people. About the same as combining Moncton, Saint John and Fredericton. So small is the Samoan population that you cannot even see it on a pie graph with the populations from other teams in their pool.
Should Samoa win, it will create a USA vs Japan game for all the marbles. Personally, I would like to see both Samoa and USA win. Sure that means Scotland advances instead of the fairytale Japanese but I think at least one North American team should get a win at the World Cup, and the day Japan supersedes Scotland in Rugby should be the day Scotland beats Canada in Hockey, never!
Little does it matter anyway, the 2nd place finisher in this pool is little more than Cannon fodder for the winner of Wales vs Australia, or are they? Wales only has 3 Million People…
No changes are expected in Pool B standings, Check Back soon for the Pool C and Pool D reviews as we get prepared for the knock-out rounds.