Biggest Surprises Of The Rugby World Cup So Far

Biggest Surprises Of The Rugby World Cup So Far  The Rugby World Cup enters a pivotal stage this weekend, as the race for a place in the semi-finals heats up. The best eight teams on the planet will compete across the quarterfinals in France, with the hopes of some of the main contenders hanging in the balance.

However, who have been some of the shock standout players at the Rugby World Cup to this point that could play a huge part in a potential success for their nation in Europe?

Nicolas Martins

One star that certainly caught the imagination at the World Cup, despite his nation crashing out in the opening round was Nicolas Martins. Portugal was given the welcome home of champions after landing a first-ever victory at the competition in their final Pool stage match against Fiji.

Their standout star throughout the tournament was Nicolas Jackson. Martins played in four matches at the Rugby World Cup this year, scoring his first ever try and recording five points. He was a standout player despite defeat against Wales, and completed 29 passes, five offloads, and four clean breaks for Portugal.

Ben Earl

There wasn’t much confidence surrounding England’s chances at the Rugby World Cup following a disappointing performance in the Six Nations earlier in the year. However, one of the team’s standout players has been a star that played a bit-part throughout the Six Nations. If anything, it could be argued that Ben Earl is now among the first names’ on the teamsheet for Steve Borthwick.

Earl has quickly made his own place in the England team, and has been a key part of the defence throughout the tournament. The player has made 20 carries, and has made 157 metres. In total, Earl has made 44 tackles so far at the World Cup, and he has made just three handling errors.

Nick Tompkins

It has been an excellent start to the World Cup for Wales, as disappointments over the last 18 months have been quickly put in the rear-view mirror. A standout player for Warren Gatland’s side to this point has been centre Nick Tompkins. The 28-year-old has played in three of the nation’s matches at the World Cup to this point, and has scored five points.

The centre has contributed five points for his side, and has made 16 carries and 37 tackles. He boasts a tackle success rate of 77%, and has run passed opposing players on six occasions. Tompkins will continue to a vitally important player for Wales as the tournament progresses. Therefore, if you play fantasy rugby you can definitely think about Tompkins as a card to invest. Click here to learn more about fantasy rugby:

Tadhg Beirne

Ireland started the Rugby World Cup among the favourites to win the competition after their dominant Grand Slam success in the Six Nations earlier this year. They looked every bit like a potential champion in the pool stage as they finished top of the standings ahead of South Africa and Scotland. Tadhg Beirne looks to be one of their most important players, as the lock has now scored 50 points for his nation across 48 matches for Ireland.

Beirne has played in four matches at the Rugby World Cup this year, and he has already scored 15 points for the Irish, made up of three tries. All of the tries that he has scored this year have contributed to his overall tally at the Rugby World Cup. He has made 110 metres across the matches that he has played, completing 19 passes and making 39 tackles. His continued form will be a key factor behind Ireland’s chances of going deeper in the World Cup.

Waisea Nayacalevu

Fiji produced one of the biggest shocks in World Cup history by eliminating Australia in the pool stage for the first time ever. They have quickly become one of the most entertaining teams to watch at the tournament in France, and one of their standout players has been Waisea Nayacalevu.

The centre from Navua has played 37 times for his nations, and has scored 75 points. The 33-year-old has played four matches at the World Cup this year, and has scored two tries to record ten points for his nation. Nayacalevu has completed 26 carries, and has travelled 163 metres. He looks set to be an important player if Fiji are to end their wait for a semi-final appearance in the tournament.

Jac Morgan

Jac Morgan has been one of the standout younger players at the Rugby World Cup this year. The 23-year-old Welsh flanker had made just eleven appearances for Wales before the start of the tournament in France, but he has quickly become a key player of Warren Gatland’s side.

At the World Cup, he has played three times in 2023, scoring two tries to accumulate ten points for the nation. The flanker has an 80% tackle success rate, and has made 12 carries and travelled 71 metres for Wales.

Who is credited with inventing Rugby Union?

Who is credited with inventing Rugby Union?  Traditionally, the person credited with inventing Rugby Union is William Webb Ellis, although there is little or no direct evidence to support this view, however popular and widely accepted it may be. Legend has that, in 1832, Webb Ellis, a student at Rugby School in Warwick, sought to gain an advantage in a game of ‘football’ by picking up the ball and running with it in his hands. Of course, that was in direct contravention of the rules of the game, such that they were, but by introducing a handling element Webb Ellis sowed the seeds for what would become the modern game of Rugby Union.

This possibly apocryphal account, which has been called into question more than once, was cited in ‘The Origins of Rugby Football’, published by the Old Rugbeian Society in 1897 and, by the early twentieth century, was well established, regardless of its veracity. What we do know for certain, though, is that Rugby School was instrumental in the development of Rugby Union, including the adoption of the first written code of rules in 1845. Rightly or wrongly, William Webb Ellis is commemorated by the ‘Webb Ellis Trophy’, which is presented to the winners of the Rugby World Cup.

What is the Sipi Tau?

Akin to the Haka, famously performed by the New Zealand All Blacks, the Sipi Tau is a ferocious war dance performed by the Tonga national rugby union team, a.k.a. the Ikale Tahi, or Sea Eagles, by way of laying down a challenge to the opposition. The current version of the Sipi Tau was written at the best of the erstwhile King of Tonga, Tāufaʻāhau Tupou IV, to commemorate a successful, albeit short, tour of New Zealand in 1994. The dance, which originally took over two minutes to perform, is accompanied by an emotional, highly charged war cry, which warns, ominously, ‘Today, destroyer of souls, I am everywhere.’

The Sipi Tau was first performed, in its contemporary form, at the third Rugby World Cup in South Africa in 1995. Nevertheless, while far from being an ancient ritual, the Sipi Tau serves as a reminder of the history and culture of the Pacific Islands and, for the Tongan players, evokes the warrior spirit of their seafaring ancestors. Prior to the Sipi Tau, the Sea Eagles traditionally performed another Tongan cultural dance, known as the Kailao, which involved clubs or sticks.

When, and where, did Italy last win a Six Nations match?

Following what is best described as a ‘purple patch’ in the history of Italian rugby, in 2000, the ‘Azzurri’, as the national rugby union team is known, joined the Six Nations Championship. Indeed, Italy marked its Six Nations debut with an emphatic 34-20 win over defending champions Scotland at Stadio Flaminio, Rome. However, despite some encouraging performances, Italy has, on the whole, found competing against the top rugby union-playing countries in Europe rather heavy going.

At the time of writing, Italy last won a Six Nations match since beating Scotland 22-19, courtesy of match-winning penalty try, at Murrayfield on February 28, 2015. Indeed, the Azzurri have lost every Six Nations match since, with their latest crushing 50-10 defeat by France, in Rome, extending their losing streak to 28. Unsurprisingly, Italy won the Six Nations’ ‘Wooden Spoon’ in

2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020 and may be hard pressed to avoid winning it again in 2021.

Recent results are a far cry from the ‘halcyon days’ of 2007, when Italy recorded back-to-back victories over Scotland, away, and Wales, at home, and finished fourth in the Six Nations’ table. So far, in fact, that some observers to question whether or not Italy still deserves a place in the competition at all.

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