I've seen a lot of people online asking what games would be good to go to for rugby newbies or kids or just which games will be worth the money. So I thought I'd give my opinion on which games will be good to get along to and which might be snorers.
I'll say this now, I am only going to recommend one All Blacks pool game, all the rest will (most likely) be easy wins with a flattering score line and possibly sold out. So go see something "exotic".
One thing that I noticed was that some Stadiums got to keep their names (Trafalgar Park for example), while others had to change to dumb names (Wellington Regional Stadium). I know this is old news, but surely instead of "Stadium-named-after-the-place-where-it-is", they could've been named a bit more creatively. Like of lot of planning with this Cup, it seems thought has gone into a lot of decisions, but just not enough thought.
Aucklanders will be getting the bulk of the knock-out games and all of those should be the best kind of international test; especially if one of the Pacific Island teams can get through.
Australia – Ireland: A good match-up with some well-known players and loads of potential for exciting runs. Visually it'll look like a lemon and lime ice block.
New Zealand – France: The only All Black pool match worth watching and (potentially*) the only time we could see the All Blacks wearing white at the Cup, because the idiots at Nike think the beautiful blue French uniforms should look like this. I mean really!
Fiji – Samoa: When two island nations play each other all hell can break loose. Great fun for the neutrals, especially with two opposing haka to start the game (I use "haka" as a generic term here).
Scotland and Romania are taking up residence in the deep dark south
Scotland – Romania: This game will split Invercargill down the middle, which of their adopted teams do they like more? Probably Scotland.
Argentina – Romania: Argentina is the best team to play a game here.
Rotorua International Stadium
Seems that Rotorua will be hosting the Namibian team, which means (unless they manage to be like Kenya at the Sevens) that Rotorua is going to see some blow-out games.
Ireland – Russia: So why this game? I mean clearly Ireland is going to win this one right? Seems you forget how strong the former Soviets can be, Comrade.
North Harbour Stadium
Does North Harbour Stadium still only have seats on one side?
France – Japan: A little bird by the name of JOHN FUCKING KIRWAN told me last year that Japan is really aiming to win this one. Yes, yes, laugh. But don't be surprised if this is closer than you expect.
South Africa – Samoa: Samoa beat Australia this year. Tonga almost beat South Africa at the last Cup. North Auckland has lots of South Africans, and south Auckland has lots of Samoans, this should be a good, hard-hitting affair with lots of noise in the crowd.
England really is camping in Dunedin with three games here, which from memory is because of a move from Christchurch.
Argentina - England: Hmmm, why would a match between England and Argentina be good? Why, why, why? It's not like they have a long-standing historical rivalry or anything. Still it's a chance for us to all see England's black jerseys.
New Plymouth hosts the US and a game that could go down in history once the American broadcasters get a hold of it.
Russia – USA: Are you fucking kidding? No way was this a random draw. It's gonna be awesome. Or kind of boring. But if you are going to any game here then this is the one to watch!
Wellington Regional Stadium
Wellington actually has more pool games than any other city and I'm going to be at all them (even Argentina - Scotland).
South Africa - Wales: This is not going to be the game everyone assumes it is. But the effect of a team in green playing a team in red will make it feel like Christmas.
France – Tonga: This match is the one I have been telling everyone to go to. I'm not sure how close it will be but Tonga seems to pick up its game at every World Cup. Plus it has the bonus of a pacific island team playing the team from the northern hemisphere that (traditionally) most plays like a pacific island team. On top of that: Blue vs Red, means it will be insanely easy to watch for newbies and kids. Expect big tackles and explosive running.
New Zealand – Canada: I mention this only because I know a few Canadians and because this game kicks off at 3:30pm. An All Blacks game played in the afternoon? What is this, Bizarro World?
Northland Events Centre
Tonga makes its home in the far north.
Tonga – Canada & Tonga – Japan: All three teams play in red, all three teams are probably going to be in the bottom of their pool (unless someone upsets France) and all three are fairly closely clustered in the world rankings; so this little micro tournament is going to be great.
Hamilton adopts the Welsh and deletes all vowels for the "rygbi"
Wales – Samoa: This should, should, be a great match. Wales aren't exactly a powerhouse right now and Samoa are hopefully peaking at the right time (see again, their victory over Australia). And once again: Red vs Blue. It should be a good one to watch for the newbies in the crowd and will also feature a haka.
Napier is home to the Cannucks for the Cup. Sunshine, Art Deco, Politeness.
France – Canada: France's sneaky use of the French language for their calls will be ineffectual in this match. And another Red vs Blue match.
Canada – Japan: This is going to be good. Like the previously mentioned Canada vs Tonga and Japan vs Tonga, this match-up should be hotly contest and tense right up to the final whistle. Japan really wants three wins and Canada is one of them. From a uniform stand point Japan wears red and white and Canada wears red and black, so one team is going to have to wear its alternate. Both of their alternates are black. So it will most likely be Japan in their (lovely) red and white versus Canada in black (with some red).
I think the Italians lucked out in this draw; not only do they get to stay in sunny Nelson (craft brewing capital of New Zealand) but they also get two fairly good chances at victory. They could become the darlings of the upper South Island. The Russians can just enjoy the weather.
Italy – USA: I don't know why, but I think this will be the best match to go to. The Italy vs Russia match should also be good (as the two "home" teams), but I think the US might target the Italy game as a possible upset victory.
The home of the Turbos will become the home of the Georgian team, let the Cha Cha flow!
Georgia – Romania: This game will reignite that ancient rivalry between Romania and Georgia. I don't know if I am actually making that up. In World Cup qualifying Georgia beat Romania in 2009, then exactly one year later Romania beat Georgia. Exactly one year after that, Georgia beat Romania. Interestingly those were all away wins; the last time one of these teams beat the other at home was in 2007. Ok seriously, now I want to see this game.