Hi all, Tackleman here with my roundup of the opening stages of Rugby World Cup 2015 and there’s only one place to start.
RWC 2015 will be remembered for the thrilling rugby, huge crowds and the incredible atmosphere but one word more than most will bring the memories flooding back – Japan.
The organisers can – and have – taken care of every aspect of the Tournament but no one can predict or take care of the action on the pitch. And that is why Japan stopped the clocks and made the world sit up and take notice as they beat the two time champions South Africa on an unforgettable day in Brighton.
Such are the wonderful values and traditions of the sport that Rugby World Cups aren’t always defined entirely by the Final. They are often remembered by many for the pool stage matches that light up this very special game.
The Japanese victory has sparked the next host nation to the point that an incredible 25 million people tuned into their victory over Samoa. This Tournament has not only captivated people in the traditional rugby countries but has clearly been taken to the hearts of those further afield as well.
Japan haven’t been the only success story of RWC 2015 and when I look back on the first few weeks it’s hard to decide between the breath-taking action or the remarkable crowds.
I’ve been involved in rugby for many many years yet never thought I would see the day when a match between Ireland and Romania would attract a crowd of almost 90,000 people. I sat in that crowd and marvelled at the way the growth of rugby was encapsulated in one huge sea of green, with a few yellow dots.
Back in 1991 a cracking match in Bayonne between Canada and Fiji attracted a crowd of 5,000. Fast forward to 2015 and 27,000 came to Leicester to watch Canada take on Romania. That match also turned out to be a show-stopper too, Florin Vlaicu kicking Romania to 17-15 victory in the final minutes, to complete the biggest comeback in Rugby World Cup history (they were 15-0 down).
Naturally there is disappointment across the host nation as England depart but, as everyone would acknowledge, Rugby World Cup is now too big an event to be defined by the success of one team.
Rugby World Cup 2015 has without doubt been an ‘I Was There’ Tournament… and the best news of all is that we have a lot of world class rugby, surprises and cliff-hangers still to come.
Until next time,