I managed to catch the second half of the Georgia against Namibia match in the Rugby World Cup.
I have been pretty disappointed so far with the coverage of the RWC. Partly this is a function of the very patchy coverage by ITV, but mostly it is due to the very poor performance of the Home nations. However there has been an incredible timidity too. I was shocked and very angry to see Scotland turning out what was essentially a B team to face the All Blacks at Murrayfield. Unsurprisingly Scotland were totally blanked- even on home ground. This is hardly the kind of display that will encourage the required increase in support for the game in Scotland. While the players may still feel proud to be playing in the (mostly) blue jersey, the cynics of the SRU refused to give the paying public the kind of contest that demonstrates the power and the passion of the game.
By contrast several up and coming teams have played with a commitment and pride that puts the Home nations to shame. The first match, where Argentinian Pumas shocked France with an energy and creativity which gave Les Bleus no quarter, has been a taste of a renewed enthusiasm amongst the emerging nations. Georgia too, having taken Ireland to the brink have played Rugby with incredible power, a fact that lead directly to their well deserved first win of the RWC last night.
The coverage by TV has been poor, simply because the quality games have come from unexpected quarters: this has been a tournament demonstrating Northern hemisphere weakness, Southern hemisphere clinical rugby, but with the many of the best games coming from the emerging nations. As Georgia face France over the weekend, whatever the result, they can certainly be proud of their achievements. As for Scotland, although even a scrappy win over Italy would be a win and qualify Scotland fro the next round, the SRU have already betrayed their fans. Running away from a contest at this, the highest level, is pitiful. No wonder Murrayfield is usually half empty these days. It is a long way from the last golden days of the amateur era, when players like David Sole, John Jeffrey, Craig Chalmers, Gavin Hastings, Finlay Calder and Tony Stanger amongst many others played with belief , commitment and pride and no little integrity.