Cracking quarters! Venatour at Rugby World Cup 2019™ – Week 5
From England’s systematic demolition of Australia; to Ireland’s Rory Best and Joe Schmidt missing out on their fairytale ending after an All Blacks drubbing; to France being just so French as Vahaamahina’s reckless red led to Wales scraping through; to rugby’s sweethearts, Japan, bravely bowing out having lost their quarter-final, but having won so much more. The quarter-finals of Rugby World Cup 2019™ were a rollercoaster.
Before the weekend’s action, Venatour had to say goodbye to some departing clients who headed home after their World Cup experience.
The team were delighted to receive some great feedback from the returning tourists, with one client commenting, “Thank you Venatour for a fabulous 12 days, our experience of Japan was amazing and it was because you made it all run so smoothly.”
We were lucky enough to welcome some new faces to our touring parties as more clients jetted out for the quarter-final action. Meeting with our English and Welsh supporters in Fukuoka, these groups enjoyed time getting accustomed to Japanese culture and exploring the beautiful and traditional city.
To preview the quarter-final clashes, Gareth Chilcott hosted one of his famous Cooch’s Taverns, accompanied by former England and British & Irish Lions hooker Lee Mears, fomer England back and media analyst Tom May and former Bristol and Ospreys head coach Sean Holley.
The function was enjoyed by all and even resulted in some rugby-related singing…
— Venatour (@VenatourTravel) October 18, 2019
Our secret tourist recounts their week’s experience:
We have been on the island of Kyushu at the western end of Japan since Monday. Oita, where the game was played, has an excellent stadium but no large hotels so everyone (Australians, French, Welsh and English) is staying in Fukuoka (which is tricky to pronounce correctly!). Apparently the city has a rugby-mad mayor who persuaded World Rugby that his town should host 2 quarter-finals. It is a beautiful island – extremely green and more space than we have seen anywhere else. In fact, around Mount Aso there are lots of hillsides just crying out for sheep, or other livestock, but were virtually empty.
The week began in Nagasaki. It’s most famous for being the site of the last atomic bomb to be dropped where it was actually the back up target. After Hiroshima, the effect was not quite as powerful and materially softened by my meeting a survivor, who was both extremely friendly and in remarkable health for a man aged around 90. The city also has more western influence than anywhere else we have seen as the Dutch were allowed a base there even during Japan’s closed period. This is evidenced by a number of churches and cathedrals, which Pope Francis will visit next month. We have also seen how difficult it must have been to get around in this country without its modern infrastructure.
But you want my thoughts on the rugby, which I expect you watched passionately. It was a perfect day to play rugby.
England started a bit slowly and after 10 minutes had had only 10% of the possession and were 3-0 down to a penalty. But after some sustained pressure, Curry put May in for his first try on 18 minutes that Farrell imperiously converted from the touchline. 3 minutes later, May scored again after Slade picked up a loose ball in his own half and, having drawn the main cover, put in a grubber kick for May to collect. Farrell again converted from the touchline and, in fact, went on to kick 8 out of 8, so was right back to his very best with the boot.
The second half began like the first with A scoring quickly – a great try through their No 11, Koroibete, who skinned Daly, on 42 minutes. The try was converted so the score was 17-16 and it was game on ……. or so we thought. Instead England just stepped up a gear and their lead was restored within 3 minutes as Sinckler joyfully scored from a pre-worked move from phased play. England then took full control. The lineout had been solid from the start and England by then took control of the scrums. Unlike in other games, the intensity of E’s play was unaffected by replacements and Farrell converted 3 penalties as he took his team to a commanding lead. After Australia resorted to desperation, Watson was able to pick off a wild pass and, with the inevitable conversion, take the score to 40-16. England’s forwards had been immense, with Underhill and Curry (who was man-of-the-match) at least matching the great Hooper and Pocock at the breakdown. It was a fantastic team performance and Eddie Jones had comprehensively beaten his former teammate Michael Cheika. I hope they had a beer together last night.
As tension builds in Japan, Venatour will reconverge in Tokyo ahead of the two massive semi-finals!