Rugby World Cup: Things we learned from the groups stages about the quarter-final teams

1.  Ireland have a very good bunch of forwards now, the transformation in their front-row in particular has been nothing short of lazarusesque.

2.  Dan Carter is out.  Colin Slade and Aaron Cruden are not exactly mugs, but they're not Dan Carter either (who is?), and no matter how much spin they want to put out in press conferences this loss will hurt NZ both on the field and in their heads.  They should still win comfortably against Los Puma, and then the whole thing.  But we've been there before haven't we?

3.  Wales are improving game by game since the Samoa outing. The reason they were so stilted in that game was due to nothing but pure psycholigical terror and fear of failure against their bogey-nation again. Once that was out of the way they settled into a rhythm that could see them go far.  Just a simple glance at the SportGuru predictions give you an idea of just how impossible to pick their game vs Ireland is.

Rugby World Cup: 10 things we learned from week two

Ireland Australia POC 1.  Ireland proved that form can sometimes mean very little.  The Irish looked in worse nick that Dolly Parton without her wig and make up until Saturday, when a combination of a world class scrummaging performace in the tight and and back-row performance in the loose did for Australia.

2.  Speaking of Australia, it seems that talk of the revival of ther scrum has been premature.  While the Ireland scrum is far better than it was, it's still the Ireland scrum, and the Wallabies were puched about like bewildered tourist staniding on the left of Tube escalator.  The fact is, as a friend of mine pointed out, Australia have not had a consistently decent scrum since about 2003, that eight years without developing scrummagers.  Unforgivable.

3.  England campaign is looking more and more like 2007 every day.  The poor form and the limited gameplan were already there, but now there is a player speaking out about the players having no idea what is going on.  Sound familiar?

4.  Because of 2. abover, one half of the knockout draw is now very likely to not feature any southern hemisphere sides; leaving the big Tri-nations three to duke it out in the bottom half of the draw while the top half hold an RBS Six Nations Lite. 

10 Things We Learned… from the first two rounds of the RBS 6 Nations

1.  It's really easy to win man of the match awards, all you have to do is tackle a Welsh centre a few times and Brian Moore thinks you are the new Michael Jones

2.  Gethin Jenkins is a lot less stupid than he looks and sounds – in rugby terms at least

3.  Brian O'Driscoll is good again

4.  Ireland look like they may finally fulfil their destiny

5.  But they probably won't