by Nigel Melville
Nigel Melville Direct
Has anyone ever completed the 'double'? Champions of the World in Sevens and Fifteens, yes, Wales won the 2009 Rugby World Cup Sevens in Dubai, and today they bounced into the semi-finals of the World Cup with a fantastic win over Ireland.
Wales should be thanking Ireland for their help, it was Ireland's win over Australia that changed their pathway to the final, and now only France stand between them and their first Rugby World Cup final appearance.
When I say 'only France', I don't want to rule them out, their win over England was well deserved and they have the players to win the tournament, the problem is, no one knows which France will turn up on any occasion-not even the French!
In the bottom half of the draw, New Zealand will progress to the semi finals later today, South Africa or Australia will join them.
There are some interesting possibilities for the final, a repeat of the 1987 Final (New Zealand v France) will be setting off alarm bells across New Zealand. "Not the French again, we thought we got rid of them in the pool stages!" is one such option. Of course finals are usually risk averse affairs where the pressure increases to the point where we don't get the greatest games, but next weekend's semi finals will be a different story. Wales v France will be a cracking game, both teams have pace and are capable of playing a brand of rugby that can seriously challenge the Southern Hemisphere teams.
As for England, they'll be packing their bags and setting off home. As World Cup campaigns go, its been a shocker, there will now be reports and reports on reports but ultimately there needs to be change to create the stability required to move forward. This is not just about 30 players and a group of coaches, it runs far deeper than that - but they are front of house - they have their responsibilities and with responsibility comes accountability, they are not blameless. Reset the compass and move on.
Toughest job at the Rugby World Cup?
Talking of moving on, imagine being the Rugby World Cup travel agent! When the smaller nations receive their travel itineraries, everyone is very polite, but the tickets home are booked before you arrive. Just 12 hours after our final game against Italy, we were out of our hotel rooms and on our way home!
The quarter finals are a bit more complex than that, I can imagine someone on the line to the airlines during the game booking "50 tickets to Paris please, oh hang on, there's a try, make that London!"
With an impressive resume as player, coach and administrator, Nigel David Melville took over as CEO and President of Rugby Operations of USA Rugby, the National Governing Body of the sport in America, in 2006. In addition to his full time job promoting the sport in the U.S., Melville has launched his own blog, Nigel Melville Direct, to further the discussion and his passion for what it will take to make the U.S. a great rugby playing nation.
CLICK HERE to read more on Nigel Melville
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