World Cup Semi-Finals – part 1

The Pumas are stalking the Springboks tomorrow, but tonight at the Stade de France in Paris, 8pm kick-off, France are preparing a warm welcome for familiar foes England. As with the quarterfinal against Australia, England played and beat France in the knockout stages of the previous World Cup – in the semi-finals. Coverage via the usual suspects offline – and online streaming video [in UK], there’s radio commentary at 5Live, and at least two text versions, BBC or the quirkier Guardian team. The RTÉ preview predicts that welcome will be too warm for England to cope with.. but, without futuring excessively, France have been known to come unstuck when under pressure in front of their home crowd.. 1st Half 18mins in. Fastest ever World Cup try to white. 25mins in Chabal comes on early for France. Half-Time England 5 – 6 France. Errors and penalties allowed France to get back into the game. 2nd Half 51mins in. Michalak joins in. 69mins in Dallaglio on for England. 74mins in. Wilkinson takes the penalty. 77mins in. And a drop-goal. Full-time England 14 – 9 France. Too tense to be a great game. But it was still a good game. And a great performance in the circumstances. Unbelievable after the 0 – 36 score-line against South Africa, but England are in the final. Last word goes to Eddie Butler

This is beyond analysis. At the end of a World Cup defined by warmth and surprise, this is an ascent into the absurd. After this, anything is possible.


  • The French should make it again:

  • Pete Baker

    I suspect you’re right, Thomas.. but I’m not futuring anymore on this World Cup.

    All I’m looking forward to is that it should be, hopefully, a great game.

  • Fair enough Pete, we witnessed a few surprises. The thing is that the English strategy has been, so far, to rely on the mistakes of their opponents. Given that the French have been pretty well disciplined, especially against the Blacks, I still give the edge to French.
    Funny, to re-read the articles before the Australian deroute and I can’t wait for the kick-off:,,2184293,00.html

  • Pete Baker

    The French should have the edge, Thomas, provided their best team turns up to play.

    But for both teams the danger is that their best game of the tournament is already behind them.

  • agh

    fair play to england – no one gave them a hope. Just getting out of the group stages was a massive achievment for them. I expect France to win by 10, but as you guys say, this RWC has been 1 of surprises. However, I can;t see england dominated the french up front, like they did the Ozzies. Johnny has been poor overall, so even if the french do give away penalties, england may struggle to convert them. I’d be very surprised to see england win. However, I was very surprised to see france beat NZ…
    prob won;t be a classic free flowing game, but should be gripping for the die hards. Good luck England – you need it…

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    It is always interesting to see who has the courage to publicise their prejudices in these now peaceful times.

    Down with the Evil Englezes and some inward booing during their apalling anthem about their murderous imperialist adventures

    C’mon the Frogs

  • Dewi

    Lost to Fiji at Rugby, Cyprus at Soccer – if England win this it will really make my month.

  • Dewi

    O dear.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    What the feck is going on – we put over 40 points on the fat Englezes feckers – we struggle to beat Georgia seconds and they get to the final.

  • Dewi

    When do we wake up Sammy ?

  • esmereldavillalobos

    Congrats to England, though I’m in for a hard time at work tomorrow – we stuffed these guys not long ago didn’t we? The French didn’t really turn up.

  • agh

    brilliant performance – superb. Really fronted up- well domne

  • agh

    once it hits knock out stages, it;s all about pressure. A big pack, solid defence and a couple of decent kickers. The french creaked up front, and didn;t play the percentages in the last 20. Could have went either way, but thought england just about shaded it. To beat france in france is a magnificant achievement. My money is on the pumas tomorrow night! What were the odds on a Puma – england final, pre RWC??

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it


    The only consolation is that SA will await in the final.

    Individually the Englezes are fine chaps, Brian Ashton is an all round good egg, I suppose if they withdrew from both our territories, scrapped their horrible anthem, deposed the queen and Princes’ nefarious, apologied for their behaviour in all former colonies, withdrew from Iraq and apologies to the BBC, paid full reparations for slavery and promised never to get to a world cup final in rugby or soccer then I might consider at least being neutral when they took the field – but they have to do the above first or the deal is off.

  • dewi

    And give us back our lost lands… Me and sisterjust had anguished conversation – can we really support SA ? Moral quandry!

  • Martin

    “…full reparations for slavery…”

    Do we get any credit for taking the lead in supressing in the 19th C and do you lot have to cough up kidnapping St Patrick and various of his ilk in the same manner?

    “withdrew from both our territories”. Both? Run that past me again? I thought, and last time I checked, we were only in one jurisdiction on the island of Ireland? Unless you count Tesco as some kind of an occupying force – in which case take your Ryanair home too.

    I’ll give you Iraq but our head of state is our own business – you keep telling us to stop bugging you about your. Recopricity would be nice.

  • dewi

    He meant Wales Martin – and in jest…. Despite missing those kicks Wilko magnificent as was Lucey until he went off.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it


    re. slavery
    if I broke into your house stole your family
    sold them and made a fortune and then when I met you in the street told you that I although I had made a fortune from selling your sons and daughters I did no longer agreed with that type of behaviour and asked you for a pat on the back – would you not give me a kick up the arse?

    re. both our territories

    I think you will find that Dewi – to whom I addreseed my remarks is from Engleze colony number 1 – namely Wales – the clue being in his name and the fact that he cant say the word Fiji witout bursting into tears.

  • Pete Baker

    I really don’t want this conversation to be about anything other than the rugby..

    But the argument about colonies ignores several historical points.. not least that, rather than the implied financial expansion of an Empire that didn’t exist at the time, strategically – given their close-fitting geographical proximity – there was a valid interest in amalgamating these two archipelagic islands under a unitary authority rather than allowing one or other to be controlled by a different, aggressive, European power. And there were repeated attempts throughout history to do just that.

    Now can we get back to the rugby?

  • dewi

    Fiji sob Cyprus sob England Aaargh…

  • ulsterfan

    England were magnificent!
    What a pack of forwards and will be a match for the Boks if they beat Argentina.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it


    “given their close-fitting geographical proximity” etc

    these words are remarkably similar to Adolf’s on the eve of the anchluss – are you perhaps paraphrasing the great admirer of the British Emmpire?

    Re. the Rugby – will the Africans strike back at the empire boys in the final?

  • GavBelfast

    And so it seems that it was a good thing that France had to leave the pressure cooker of Paris and, with less pressure on them, were able to take New Zealand by surprise in Cardiff. But then it was back to the cauldron, and they couldn’t raise their game.

    I doubt if England would have beaten the All Blacks, but well done to them.

    It’s hard to see beyond South Africa tomorrow night or in the Final but, once they had beaten Australia last week, you sensed that England don’t want to give back the trophy, you really never know.

    Great drama, and so much better than The X Factor.

  • dewi

    Where is Donnacha – need to share the misery in a support network…

  • Pete Baker

    Yeah, “It was..” etc

    I am Adolf Hitler and you can claim your five pounds.


  • IJP

    Delighted to see England – my dad’s country of birth – reach the final. Would probably like to see them play South Africa – my dad’s country of resident – in that final, just for his entertainment! But can’t lose really – England-Argentina would be an intercontinental epic and I’m loving seeing the Argies shove it up the “Big Nine”.

    The only consolation is that SA will await in the final.

    Japers Sammy, only a complete eejit predicts anything in this tournament.


    In the words of John O’Dowd, we all have our histories!

    South Africa is, frankly, more democratic these days than, say, Northern Ireland… no moral quandary, it’s a fine country full of fine people and feel free to support its rugby team!

  • dewi

    Persuade me – it won’t take a lot honest – just got a lifetime problem with SA rugby

  • snakebrain

    bloody hell, what a result

  • IJP

    Well, I’ll play devil’s advocate.

    There are three pillars to democracy:
    – independent (functioning) legal system;
    – functioning market economy;
    – representative politics.

    In South Africa:
    – the independence of the legal system is respected even by a Government with the power to change the Constitution;
    – the market economy is growing at 4%+ per annum and enabling the funding of mass housing projects, health awareness and telecommunications infrastructure;
    – Parliament is elected by a PR system, and appoints the Executive (pretty standard stuff).

    In Northern Ireland:
    – the legal system sees judges overturn political decisions they don’t like for no apparent reason (John Lewis, PPS 14, etc);
    – there is a subvention of £7 bn per annum required to maintain standard of living;
    – an Assembly is elected by a PR system, but the Executive and crucial decisions are made via a sectarian system which breaches fundamental human rights.

    Presumably you’re happy enough to support semi-democratic Ireland, against pretty much anyone except Wales?

    So I’d have thought fully democratic, rainbow South Africa was a no brainer?

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it


    Re. South Africa rugby – there was that cracking story before the world cup that after having introduced a quota for black players they did not have enough to fill the quota. They had to pick a white person as an honourary black although the coach thought he was to small for the back row. The reason he was picked was that his father had been part of the anti-aparthied movement.

    They dont seem to be able to really change it form a white mans game and unfortunately going down the path above may lead into the Zimbabwean farm scenario.

    C’Mon the BOK – you are our last hope from the horror of the Englezes being the first team to defend the world cup.

  • dewi

    Ok I’m persuaded – it did not take a lot !

  • agh

    Have you guys seen SA play recently? Okay they smoked england in the groups, but struggled against a limited tonga side and conceded 14 points in 10 mins against 14 men of Fiji in the QFs?

    This RWC is all about pressure. Who can handle it? The All Blacks froze against france, Oz froze against england, ireland froze against everyone, france froze against the pumas and england etc etc etc

    everyone is playing into englands hands – when the pressure comes on, expansive sides like france and nz resort to field position, percentages and set pieces – right down englands and argentinas street.

    SA – Argentina will go right to the wire – 5 points either way – toss a coin if you like. Both sides have excellent kickers so expect some serious tacticl battles with the boot. Argentina by 3 points, I predict.

    Either way, England have a tremendous chance of being the only side to win 2 consecutive RWCs. This one would be a remarkable achievment. Entering the tournament with no form, very little raw talent and no confidence. Getting smoked by SA in the groups… Remarkable…

    Of course the whingers on this forum resort to petty political remarks of hundreds of years ago – very sad…

    I was in a bar in france when ireland played france. It was full of english people. They were on their feat yelling and screaming for the irish to score. Seems as though we are the ones with the chips on our shoulders lol – get over it. Support your neighbours with pride, after all, we’re all from the same hemisphere lol

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it


    “Of course the whingers on this forum resort to petty political remarks of hundreds of years ago – very sad”

    Not just sad but extremely pissed off.

    By the way – would it be a fair to charactertise England’s victory over France as a load of big fat guys (WWE tag team No.1) lying on top of a load of skillful ones?

  • DavidD

    A dour, defensive struggle with few flashes of brilliance and many errors. It seems that this long series has drained the creativity out of most teams and we are left with hard, physical battles between the forwards. On balance the score was just about right. It was not pretty but it was gripping. The words of Wellington, talking about another close encounter, sum it up well, “They came on in the same old way and we sent them back in the same old way”.

  • Greenflag

    Well done England . I had written them off as quarter final fodder . I’m trying to envisage an England Argentina final although it’s more likely to be England South Africa .

    This World Cup is likely to be remembered as the year of the Argentine and their arrival as a major force in World Rugby . Ireland , Scotland and France are no longer contenders thanks to Contepomi and Co .

  • Rubicon

    Well done England! Not a great game of skill but if you measure the game as just entertainment – it supplied plenty. Add to that, the English determinination was something to watch – if only our own could have shown that commitment.

    For those who want to coat-trail history as a reason to support one team or another – does anyone remember England being the only home nations team prepared to play in Ireland when the IRA issued death threats?

    I’ll be chearing England on – though it’d be difficult not to want it to be Argentina’s tournament. Tonight will probably sort that out – but I’d not put any money on it.

    Here’s to cheering on the under-dog for the 2nd time this weekend.

  • IJP


    Well put.

    I’m fed up with hearing all the whingeing from middle-class liberal lefties who’ve never been near the place about the lack of blacks in the SA or Namibian teams.

    It’s not a traditional sport for blacks, nor should anyone be selected for reasons other than merit.

    It’s like whingeing about the lack of Protestants in the Irish International Rules team!

    South Africans of all colours are proud to support the team regardless – and rightly so.

  • Rubicon

    IJP – is it also like whinging about the lack of Ulstermen on the Irish rugby team?

  • IJP


    No, because Ulstermen do actually play rugby.

    There are other reasons the whingeing about the lack of Ulstermen in the Irish team was nonsense.

  • Rubicon

    IJP a large number of Ulsterman don’t pay rugby bat a fair number appear to want a quota.

  • Concerned Loyalist


  • Concerned Loyalist

    As a football fan I, perhaps predictably, don’t have much time for a sport that regularly belittles, undermines and looks down upon the Glorious Game, i.e. Football.

    However, I found last nite’s match intriguing. I did have my fair share of Double Vodka Red Bulls courtesy of J.D. Wetherspoon, followed by Rose Wine that my mates convinced me I needed when what I needed was a good stiff cup of coffee, but I couldn’t take my eyes of the game. It was great to see a home nation win, and deservedly so. It was almost as good to see the look of shock on the faces of those arrogant, French, long-haired girls blouses…

  • Ruled

    I, for one, welcome our new



  • As for absurd any thoughts on Rugby World Cup Ltd pulling videos of matches from youtube? I had a video clip of the haka from the france-NZ game pulled and am at a loss as to how it could damage their copyright. Obviously they are paying people to trawl youtube and remove anything related!