It would be fair to say Rugby World Cup 2019 did not disappoint. Many countries used the opportunity of the World Cup to make a statement on the international stage. Established nations like South Africa and New Zealand used it as an opportunity to prove why they are considered amongst the best in the world, up and coming nations made a case for their inclusion in major competitions and Scotland were just incredibly Scottish.
The greatest plaudits must be given to the winners South Africa, a nation who most pundits gave little to no chance of winning the final, I’m looking at you Matt Dawson. Their brand of rugby might not be as exciting as Faf de Klerks hair, but their game management throughout the competition was phenominal, as seen in the final, where they displayed a ruthless efficiency to shut England’s attack down for most of the match. Their rise from the dire days Allister Coetzee to now is nothing short of exceptional.
It might not have been the ending that Eddie Jones was planning for England, but the progress that has been made over the last 4 years cannot be understated. To go from being knocked out of your home World Cup to the final (overcoming a combined 5 World Cups in the form of their knockout opponents) is a feat itself. England can also take pride in playing possibly the game of the tournament against New Zealand, who simply had no answers to England's phenomenal defence in the semi-final match between the two teams.
Japan must also get credit not only for the tournament that they hosted, but also for the fantastic brand of rugby that they played. To come top of a pool featuring both Scotland and Ireland is an incredible accomplishment, even more so considering how convincing the wins against both teams were. Their inclusion in the rugby championship is now a major question for world rugby.
Credit must also be given to New Zealand for their dismantling of Ireland in the quarters, and to Wales for their wins against Australia and France, as well as pushing South Africa close in the semi-final.
Not every nation can be given such praise however, and unfortunately Scotland must be considered the most disappointing team of the tournament. Despite playing possibly the fastest and simply maddest rugby in the world, they have proved unable to string wins together. Pressure surly is mounting on head coach Gregor Townsend to improve results soon.