The Best and the Brutal

New Zealand are hot favourites but France, South Africa, Australia and Ireland are not without hope. An introduction to the 2007 Rugby World Cup, by Brent Pope.

Background to the Rugby World Cup

Several proposals for a first ever world cup in rugby were made to the International Rugby Football Board (IRFB) in the late 1970s and early 1980s. But not until 1985 when New Zealand and Australia proposed to co-host an inaugural tournament was the concept of a World Cup seriously considered. Individual applications from both countries had been turned down in 1984, so they jointly conducted a feasibility study which was presented to a meeting of IRFB member unions in Paris in March 1985.

Pool A - England

Despite heavy criticism at home, England coach Brian Ashton has reverted to what won England the World cup in 2003 - a huge pack, Jonny Wilkinson at out-half and not much else. Brian Ashton's appointment as coach last year has not helped England's preparation – he was still tinkering with their composition a few weeks before the World Cup, two years too late. 

Pool A - South Africa

Similar to England, South Africa have reverted to their most suited composition – a large forward pack with a limited back line. South Africa have failed to ever produce creative mid-field players and rely instead upon strong direct players who agressively attack the gain line. But as recently proved, even in the pre-World Cup game against Connaught, removing that element from their game plan limits the Springboks.

Pool B - Australia

Australia are always an unknown quantity at the World Cup. They are only team to have won a final twice, they always do well at finals and yet their performances immediately prior to the tournament are generally shaky. There is some domestic controversy surrounding the selection of George Gregan and other ageing players, but they can perform at the top level for any one off game.

Pool B - Wales

Even though Wales has the ability to spring a surprise any team, they could be the disappointment of this tournament. They were walloped by England and won a morale boosting victory over Argentina in the August tests, but this wasn't a particularly strong performance.

Private report on Artane Industrial School 1962

Village presents details of the private 1962 report, conducted by prison chaplain Fr. Henry Moore for Archbishop John C. McQuaid, outlining the various deficiencies of the Artane school for boys. In the report, Fr. Moore details the shortfall in medical treatment, the 'rigid and severe' discipline and the low educational standard reached by boys at the school. Moore also speaks of the band - the 'only worthwhile achievement of the school'. Fr. Moore concluded that Artane was in need of 'drastic revision'.

Media Junkie: Pat Wallace

Favourite book:
It would have to be Ireland: Harbinger of the Middle Ages by Ludwig Biller. Makes you feel great about the essence of rural Ireland!
Last book you read:
I have just finished William. J. Smyth's Map-making, Landscapes and Memory: A Geography of Colonial and Early Modern Ireland, C. 1530 – 1750. It's a great achievement.