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Last Updated: Wednesday, 3 October 2007, 08:02 GMT 09:02 UK
Zinzan Brooke column
Ex-New Zealand rugby great Zinzan Brooke
By Zinzan Brooke
All Blacks legend

Brian O'Driscoll
Brian O'Driscoll's try against Argentina counted for nothing

It was an exciting final weekend of the pool stages. There were games that drew a lot of people in and there were a couple of upsets.

Against Argentina, Ireland were out-thought, out-muscled, out-everything.

They were played off their feet and Argentina repelled everything the Irish could throw at them. It was a composed and mature victory.

Something has not been right in the Ireland camp for the whole World Cup. There have been a lot of rumours going round but no-one is really sure what went on.

It has been amazing to see some of the big Ireland players, Gordon D'Arcy, Ronan O'Gara, Paul O'Connell and Denis Hickie to name but a few, not showing up.

Their coach Eddie O'Sullivan is pretty sound and has done a fairly good job but it came unstuck for him in France. I think he should still be around, though. What is the point of sacking him?

He signed a four-year contract just before the tournament started so if he does go he will get a big pay-off.

What is pretty plain to see is that Ireland do not deserve to be in the knockout stages. The truth is that they were dreadful in every game, they got their pants pulled down and they were spanked.

It has not been a good tournament for the northern hemisphere teams, but why is that bad? It has not been bad for the global game

Zinzan Brooke

I have seen Argentina improve over the last few years and the fact they have so many players playing for top European teams helps them.

I just felt that the game against Ireland was one of those where you could not write off the Pumas.

Because a lot of their players play in France, I said before the World Cup that they have a good chance against the French - so why are we surprised that Argentina defeated Ireland as well?

After Argentina beat France, people assumed that everything would just get back to normal and Ireland would click and come good but why are people making those assumptions? Argentina are a quality side.

Wales are also out of the competition and like the Irish, they only have themselves to blame.

They have to ask themselves how they let Fiji get 25-3 ahead in that final game. Especially with the way they started, they have to be off their rockers.

Wales completely played into Fiji's hands. You cannot do the autopsy of that defeat and say "we were a bit surprised with the way they played".

Vilimoni Delasau
Fiji have been a breath of fresh air for the World Cup, insists Brooke

Everyone knows that the Fijians and Samoans will be physical and free-spirited. Fijians can only play that way and they just do not do the 'up the jumper' stuff.

If any team starts to engage them in that kind of game and tries to run them off the park, well I'm afraid they are going to come off second best - especially if they are not controlling the match anyway.

Wales thought they had done it when Martyn Williams ran in for a try with less than 10 minutes to go. He started celebrating but he failed to cross underneath the posts and the conversion was missed.

That could have made the difference.

Fiji managed to get one back and once Nicky Little got the conversion, Wales then had little option but to go for the try.

Wales got a penalty late on but they couldn't go for it - they had to run the ball and that was critical.

When the Welsh boys were actually put to the sword, they didn't respond.

They blundered their way through that game, whether it was bad decision making or just bad play, but the end of the story is that they were not good enough and they shot themselves in the foot.

They underestimated the Fijians and they should have known better after what happened to them against Samoa in 1991.

As for the All Blacks, they defeated Romania comfortably and in truth you would expect that.


The guys were a little bit upset with the way they stumbled through the Scotland game but they responded and although it was not a perfect performance, the first thing you have to do is get back on track.

So the pool games are over and it has not been a good tournament for the northern hemisphere teams, but why is that bad? It is not so bad for the global game.

It's fantastic to have the likes of Argentina and Fiji getting into the last eight of a World Cup.

There is talk of reducing the tournament to 16 teams but what we should be doing instead is exposing the sport.

The most important thing now is for the International Rugby Board to get its act together and look after all the minnows.

I have been delighted with they way the minnows have participated in throwing the ball around and it is the Pacific Island teams that have wanted to take part in freestyle running play.

These guys need to have proper rugby. We do need to grow this game and the World Cup should be the centre stage.

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