Wednesday 28 September 2016

Relishing return after two weeks of World Cup magic from minnows

Duncan Casey

Published 02/10/2015 | 02:30

Japan had to play two games in four days and suffered for it against Scotland
Japan had to play two games in four days and suffered for it against Scotland

What a World Cup this is turning out to be. The headlines will continue to be grabbed by the contenders for the trophy, but I hope that the underlying story of this tournament will not fade into memory.

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This is of course, the performances of the Tier 2 nations, whose performances are almost incomparable to some of the same teams four years ago.

Japan stole the show on day two with one of the most resilient performances in the history of world rugby. I was gob-smacked by just how capable they were in every aspect of the game.

Leaving their physicality and handling aside, the structure and foundation of their set-piece game was highly impressive.

It's very rare that the South African scrum is given a drubbing. I can't recall a similar experience against a Tier 2 side, that's for sure. I can safely say it's one of the greatest pieces of rugby history I've had the pleasure of seeing.

Cynics will point to the follow-up against the Scots and argue that the game against South Africa was an anomaly. However, I couldn't disagree more.

Madness

Being forced to play two Tests against top quality sides within four days of one another is madness.

There isn't a side in the world that would be happy to play a fresh Scotland side four days after going toe to toe with South Africans. It is a massive oversight by the organisers which I hope will never be replicated.

Romania found themselves in the same boat. After showing their ability in the defeat to France on Wednesday they had to go out and face Ireland on Sunday.

This is simply not right. You wonder what could have been achieved by a team like Japan had they been given a fair crack of the whip.

Then we had Canada put Italy to the pin of their collar, and the USA deservedly led Scotland at half-time before they ran out of steam. This is all hugely encouraging from a rugby enthusiast's point of view.

The efforts that are in place in these countries are clearly starting to pay off.

Hopefully such impressive performances will spark more interest in rugby in these countries.

We may even have a more diverse range of professional leagues around the world in the next decade.

This week we face a Glasgow side that has a mixed start to the campaign. After losing at home to the Scarlets in week one, they bounced back to pip Connacht to the finish line.

A quick look at the Scottish squad for the World Cup will tell you that the majority of its members are Glasgow Warriors. So many of the faces who caused us so much trouble in Kingspan last May will be missing tonight. Despite this, Glasgow are still a formidable side.

They have averaged over 200 passes per game so far, with the highest number of offloads and the lowest number of kicks. That gives you an indication of the unrelenting, high tempo mentality that comes with their attack.

There are plenty of threats for us to be aware of. Our preparation has been thorough this week as we prepare for more of the same from different personnel.

Glasgow will look to Chris Fusaro to lead by example. With 95 caps he is the most experienced player in the ranks at the moment. The openside is an excellent ball player. This is often utilised at lineout time, where he will throw 20 metre passes to unleash the backline with ease. He is also lethal on the ground when he gets a split second.

Our rucking will have to be as efficient as a Volkswagen in an emissions test to neutralise him.

Junior Bulumakau has been an interesting addition to the Glasgow line-up. Born in Fiji, he moved to Scotland at the age of ten and has been an infantryman with the Royal Regiment of Scotland since 2010, and has been deployed in Kenya and Cyprus.

He came on board only last month, having impressed for Heriots RFC and after being named man of the match in the Army's win against the Royal Navy in May. Fijians in a Glasgow shirt have caused us plenty of trouble in the past. We'll be hoping to keep Bulumakau's influence to a minimum.

Certain quarters might be trying to bill this as a grudge match of sorts and to an extent it is. Of course we will be keen to gain some sort of retribution, but realistically this is a very different side to the one we faced in May.

We will be focusing on building on the great start we've had to this season. We stole the points from Ospreys in Wales a couple of weeks ago but our performance was not as good as it can be.

We need to move up the pitch more effectively. The general consensus was that we played too many phases between the ten-metre lines, which means you run the risk of turning the ball over in a dangerous position.

Given the fact that Glasgow look to their counter attack as a real source of points, we would be well advised to try and keep Glasgow deep in their own territory.

I'm really looking forward to making my first start of the season. The last time I played Glasgow in a league game was in Thomond Park two years ago. We lost that evening. I'm confident that we won't allow the same to happen this time round.

Have a great weekend and enjoy the game!

Irish Independent

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