Thursday, September 08, 2011

2011 Rugby World Cup Begins

Long time, no sports chatter here. Tonight the National Football League's season begins, while Major League Baseball's season is winding down, and I'll write more about both of those sports soon, but today, a different focus: the 2011 Rugby World Cup.  Running from September 9 through October 23, 2011, the matches will take place in various cities in New Zealand/Aotearoa, including Auckland, Dunedin, Hamilton, Invercargill, Napier, Rotorua, and the capital, Wellington.  Despite still recovering from its last, fairly recent earthquake, New Zealand has readied all the pitches and the matches will go forward.

The United States fields one of 20 teams in the tournament, and is in Pool C, with Australia, Ireland, Italy and Russia. The other pools are A, with host country and powerhouse NZ, Canada, France, Japan and Tonga; Pool B features Argentina, England, Scotland, Georgia, and Romania; and Pool D, which comprises Fiji, Namibia, South Africa, Samoa, and Wales. I am no expert on rugby and have never played it, though my high school and undergraduate alma mater had teams, and only follow it from afar, but I think I'm safe in saying two things: the United States is not a favorite to win, and outside of the upcoming 2012 London Olympics, this is one of the rare events where you'll see athletes from such countries as Georgia, Samoa, Namibia, and Tonga participating and competing against each other.

Matches begin at 8:30 pm today (already September 9) Auckland time, with the host country's famed and revered All Blacks facing off against the team from Tonga. Tomorrow Scotland faces Romania, Fiji squares off against Namibia, France takes on Japan, and Argentina challenges England. The US doesn't have its first match until Sunday, September 11 (I didn't plan this event), against Ireland at Stadium Taranaki in New Plymouth, on west coast of NZ's North Island.

Here are some very recent photos from New Zealand. Enjoy, and I'll be posting more soon.

Filipo Levi of Samoa, in Rotorua (Getty Images)
England's Shontayne Hape, surrounded by fans in Christchurch (Getty Images)

England's coach Martin Johnson inspects earthquake damage at the stadium where his team will playing in Christchurch (Getty Images)
Taniela Moa of Tonga, at Eden Park (Getty Images)
Members of the USA squad prepare to board a traditional Maori waka during the team welcome ceremony to RWC 2011 at Putiki Marae in Whanganui, New Zealand. (Getty Images)
William Servat, Nicolas Mas and Fulgence Ouedraogo line up to receive a gift at the official French team welcome at Orakei Marae in Auckland (Getty Images)
Argentina players take part in a leg stretching exercise during their training session in Dunedin (Getty Images)
Kurtley Beale of Australia's Wallabies is tackled by Nick Phipps during training for the opening match against Italy (Getty Images)
Ma'a Nonu has a reason to smile, he was handed the New Zealand All Blacks number 13 jersey for the Rugby World Cup 2011 opener against Tonga on 9 September (Getty Images)
Red letter day: The Tongan team warm up during the Captain's Run at Eden Park in Auckland (Getty Images)
Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard talks to James O'Connor of the Wallabies during a meeting with the team in Auckland (Getty Images)
Russian Vladislav Korshunov expressed his condolences to families of those killed in the Russian plane crash (Getty Images)
Japan's Fumiaki Tanaka belts out a song for the crowd after arriving at Auckland International Airport (Getty Images)

1 comment:

  1. I do enjoy your rugby pictures--the best part of the game for me.