Argentina see red as tournament hots up! Venatour at Rugby World Cup 2019™ – Week 3 | #TravelTuesday
As the pool stage Rugby World Cup 2019 enters the crunch stage, Venatour’s tourists have enjoyed some brilliant rugby and off-field fun.
The Follow England group have enjoyed the spectacular sights of Mount Fuji and Lake Ashi, the centre of a large national park interlaced with ancient sections of the cobbled Tōkaidō Road; the cultural hub that is Kyoto; and Hiroshima, the city ravaged by the atomic bomb in 1945; before travelling to Tokyo to absorb a unique and exciting rugby atmosphere in the Japanese capital.
The highlight of the week, however, was England’s bonus-point win over group rivals Argentina in their first true test of the championship, as our secret tourist reveals:
Since the Kobe game, we have been to Kyoto (the former, pre-1868 capital and home to some amazing temples), Hiroshima where the fist A-bomb was dropped (and there is a tough museum telling the very human story of the destruction) as well as one of Japan’s most beautiful spots – the island of Miyajima and Hakone close to Mount Fuji.
Yesterday’s game was disappointing despite England getting the result they wanted and qualifying for the Quarter Finals, with a third bonus point. Next week’s game with France will decide whether E play Australia or Wales in that round. Arguably, coming in as runner up would avoid the All Blacks until the final, but if they are going to win the Cup, they will have to play them at some stage and they could do with the momentum of continuing to win. Please don’t get the idea that I’m getting over-confident, in fact the reverse, but a positive mindset needs to be retained at all times. France only just beat Tonga today 23-21 so England ought to beat them.
The story of yesterday’s game struggles to get beyond the red card Nigel Owens produced on 17 minutes sending off Tomas Lavanini. He had little choice for a brainless, high tackle on Farrell. At the time the score was 5-3 to England but they had not looked comfortable. At the north end of the ground where we were, there were quite a few passionate Argentinian supporters. Before kick-off the atmosphere was fabulous and it looked as though it was going to be a really exciting match. The sending off killed that and neither team played particularly well except in brief bursts. It was also quite niggly with a couple of free-for-alls.
Eddie Jones must be pleased and relieved with having qualified. He has talked about getting the team to peak at the right time. I haven’t seen any of the French games, but the score lines suggest that they are some way from their best. England need to improve on yesterday’s performance to be sure of going into the quarter finals as group winners. After that, stating the obvious, it’s a knockout competition so anything can happen.
Japan is an extraordinary country. The first thing you notice is that everything works; functional things don’t have to be pretty as long as they do their job and most of the cities are not pretty. You then discover the food which I just adore. At times, you have to trust what is in front of you (because you can be sure it will have been prepared with great care), and it invariably tastes delicious. There are many different styles – try them all. But I most appreciate the politeness, helpfulness and respect shown by virtually everyone. This is exemplified by the absence of pushing in crowds and the general cleanliness; spotting litter is rare and you can always trust public toilets. And the things meant to be beautiful are – fabulously so, i.e. the gardens, castles and temples.
The Japanese people are loving this World Cup, making all the supporters extremely welcome as well as looking very likely to qualify for the quarter-finals. We are seeing Japan play Scotland next Sunday and unless the Scots win by street, Japan will qualify probably as group winners. Just to make it harder, Scotland play Russia on Wednesday, a game where they must get 5 points to have any chance to qualify on Sunday but will have just 4 days recovery time.
Accompanied by tour manager and former Ospreys and Bristol coach Sean Holley, the Venatour’s Welsh tourists also enjoyed a culturally engaging week, visiting Mount Fuji and Lake Ashi before bullet-training to Osaka and Okayama.
Our Scottish contingent also enjoyed similar experiences as their national team face two huge fixtures against Russia and Japan this week in a bid to remain in Rugby World Cup 2019™ .
This week also saw the long-awaited arrival of Gareth “Cooch” Chilcott, who was in fine form as he hosted the first of his famous Cooch’s Taverns as he was joined by guests Tom May and Mick Cleary.
Next week, we look forward to a thrilling climax of the pool stages, before Venatour are joined by another raft of tourists to enjoy massive matches and the stunning sights of Japan.