Scottish Women’s Cup final: Hibernian and Glasgow City renew rivalry for last trophy of the season

(From left to right): Glasgow City manager Scott Booth, Glasgow City midfielder Rachel McLaughlin, Hibernian captain Joelle Murray and Hibernian manager Grant Scott will compete for the Scottish Women’s Cup at Tynecastle on Sunday. (Credit: Jamie Braidwood)

 

Sunday’s Scottish Women’s Cup final will see the latest chapter of the fierce rivalry between Glasgow City and Hibernian Ladies F.C unfold.

It seems only right that the last final of the decade will be contested by the two teams who have enjoyed a duopoly over Scottish football over the past 10 years, and have swept the board in terms of domestic honours.

In one corner there is Glasgow City, whose dominance over the Scottish Women’s Premier League has been unprecedented. City have won the last 13 titles and clinched their latest success earlier this month.

Hibs, meanwhile, have ruled over the domestic cup competitions in recent years. They have won the last seven domestic cups – four Premier League Cups and three Scottish Cups – and on Sunday have the chance to beat City and maintain that remarkable record.

“When we started on the cup run [in 2016] we never would have thought we would have been in the position to retain the cup for the fourth consecutive year,” says Hibs captain Joelle Murray ahead of the final.

“We’ve got confidence in the squad but there’s no arrogance. We appreciate and respect the challenge that City continue to bring in the cup competitions.”

Hibs and Glasgow City have already won trophies this season heading into Sunday’s final. (Credit: Jamie Braidwood)

 

Hibs have already tasted victory over their rivals in a cup final this season, beating City in a tense penalty shoot-out to win the Premier League Cup in May, but were once again second best in the league.

It was the fifth season in a row that Hibs had finished second to City in the league, but this season was tough to take. After only finishing three points behind City last year, Hibs regressed and finished the campaign nine points behind their rivals.

Sunday’s game offers Murray and her team-mates another shot at revenge.

“To have that disappointment is very frustrating but on the flipside, to have a Scottish Cup final to look forward to so close to the end of the season is an opportunity to take away from that disappointment,” she says.

“Over the last few years winning the Scottish Cup has taken away from that disappointment ever so much. So it’s another opportunity on Sunday try and get over the league loss for us.”

Both Hibs and City reached the knockout stages of the Women’s Champions League this season. But while Hibs’ campaign was ended in September by Slavia Prague, City have advanced to the quarter-finals for only the second time in their history. They will face German champions Wolfsburg in March. For now though, all focus is on winning the Scottish Cup on Sunday.

“It’s been a while since we’ve lifted the trophy and we’re very hungry to do it this time,” says Glasgow City manager Scott Booth.

“It would be a fantastic end to what has been a very good season for the club. We know it’s going to be close because Hibs always prove to be tough for us in the league and the cup.

“They’ve been better than us in the cup for the last few years, but we’ve talked about this since from the start of the season that we have focussed on taking this one back off of them.

“We’ve had so much disappointment in the cups over the last few years, and we don’t want to go through that again.”

Sunday’s final will be held at Hearts’ Tynecastle Park in Edinburgh, which is also fitting after Hibs’ city rivals secured promotion to the Women’s Premier League last weekend.

And in what has been a momentous year for women’s football in Scotland, with the national team competing in the World Cup finals over the summer, there is hope that Sunday’s final will see a good turnout for the final game of 2019.

“It’s an advantage [to both teams] hosting the final at a stadium like Tynecastle,” Murray says. “It’s a stadium very fitting of the occasion and on Sunday I’m hoping it will be full of both Hibs and City fans. I would like to think whether it’s Hibs, City or neutral fans, that we get a big attendance.”

The Scottish Women’s Cup final between Glasgow City and Hibernian Ladies kicks off at 4:10 p.m. on Sunday November 24. Entry is £7 for adults, £3 for concussions, and free for under-12s. Tickets can be purchased in advance or at the gate.

PODCAST: Hibs and Hearts set for rebuilding process – Scottish football preview

Hearts are still waiting on the appointment of their new manager having recently sacked Craig Levein due to an incredibly poor start to the season and travel to Rugby Park to face Kilmarnock on Saturday.

Angelo Alessio’s Kilmarnock sit fifth in the SPL whereas Hearts are down at ninth – only three points off bottom spot. Beating Kilmarnock away from home will not be easy, however, Hearts may be playing them at the perfect time – Killie are in the middle of some poor form, whereas Hearts have won their last game. The reverse fixture that took place in October saw Hearts get beat by Kilmarnock 1-0 in Edinburgh, so the Jam Tarts will be looking for revenge. Hearts striker, Steven Naismith, has impressed during international duty for Scotland and he will be hoping to get on the score sheet on Saturday.

 

After sacking Levein, it is uncertain who is going to take over. Assistant coach, Angus McPhee is currently at the helm as interim manager, although there is no set boss for now, there is no doubt the team going to Rugby Park will give everything to push themselves away from the relegation zone.

This will be a close encounter – both teams needing three points but with the risk of losing all three at the same time. Regardless of their positions in the table, these are two even sides and will make for a good match up. I predict KILMARNOCK 1-1 HEARTS – A result the Jambos would definitely be happy before heading into the busy Christmas fixture list.

Hibernian, meanwhile, face Motherwell at Easter Road. They currently sit eighth in the league table, with Motherwell in fourth place with nearly double the amount of points.

Both teams have had big news in the last week or so: Hibernian have recently appointed new manager Jack Ross, The ex-Sunderland manager was appointed last week to the role and will be looking to make a big impact in his first game in charge this Saturday. As for Motherwell, head coach Donald Jennow, stepped down from his role a few days ago leaving a hole in the backroom staff ahead of their journey to Edinburgh.

This will be a close affair, no one really knows how Hibs will preform in their first game under Ross, however, it will surely be an improvement compared to previous results. Motherwell have asserted themselves as a hard team to beat in the Scottish Premiership – even for Rangers and Celtic. A win for Motherwell could put them third if Aberdeen lose to St Johnstone at the weekend.

If there is an early goal at Easter Road, the game will open right up with both teams desperate to push themselves up the table. Jack Ross could be the momentum shift the Hibees have been waiting for some time now. I predict HIBERNIAN 3-1 MOTHERWELL – if Ross has a positive start, who knows where Hibs could finish this season.

We also discuss both games as well as the current managerial situation at the Edinburgh clubs in this weeks Scottish Football podcast:

Edinburgh look to continue perfect home start as Bordeaux bring European challenge

Edinburgh assistant coach Duncan Hodge (pictured) and centre Matt Scott spoke to the media to preview their European Challenge Cup game against Bordeaux Begles following their round one win away to Agen last weekend. (Credit: Erin McRitchie)

 

Edinburgh Rugby will look to retain their 100% home record this season as they welcome the Bordeaux Begles to Murrayfield Stadium on Friday in the second leg of the European Challenge Cup.

The capital side come in to the fixture having beaten another French outfit, Agen, 31-10 last week, while Bordeaux – who are second in the French Top 14 – defeated Wasps 40-30 in a back and forth encounter.

Edinburgh head coach Richard Cockerill has handed Fijian internationalist Bill Mata his first start of the season after the No. 8s return from the Rugby World Cup in Japan. Mata also featured in Fiji’s side which took on the Barbarians at Twickenham Stadium last weekend.

Along with Mata, Cockerill rotates a further seven internationalists in to his starting 15. Blair Kinghorn starts at fullback, whilst the blooming partnership of Mark Bennett and Matt Scott is selected to start in the centre.

Ben Toolis and Grant Gilchrist – both club centurions – are the locks chosen to pack down in the boiler room, bolstered by Magnus Bradbury on the flank whilst Henry Pyrgos rounds out the international contingent as he captains the side from the scrum half position.

John Barclay, Jamie Bhatti and Simon Berghan hold the international caps on the bench, and having made his starting debut last weekend against Agen, Charlie Shiel drops out of the starting 15 to make way for Pyrgos.

Discussing his selections, Cockerill explained his side want to continue with their momentum on the back of their 31-10 win in the first round.

“We’ve made a number of changes to the starting line-up – bringing back plenty of experience across the board – and I expect us to perform on the night. We’re back at BT Murrayfield in front of our own supporters and we always want to do well at home.”

“We’ve had a really good training week and the boys are looking forward to the challenge,” Cockerill added.

Cockerill’s side still has a number of injuries, including leading figures Jamie Ritchie and Fraser McKenzie.

Also unavailable for selection is back row Nick Haining, as earlier this week he received a two week ban from the EPCR governing body following an independent disciplinary hearing into an incident in the Agen game where he is accused of striking Thomas Vincent with his head.

Speaking at a press conference earlier this week, Edinburgh assistant coach Duncan Hodge expressed his delight with his side’s performance in their opening European fixture of the season.

“We made a lot of changes and the most pleasing thing was that a lot of guys got some game time and we performed well both sides of the ball,” Hodge said.

Hodge believes there will be some rotation in the squad from that which was named to face Agen.

“Potentially there’s going to be some changes and the onus in a competitive squad is to stand up and earn or keep their places,” Hodge said.

Centre Matt Scott will be one of those players rotated back in to the squad. Places in the centre have become extremely competitive this season as players like George Taylor, Chris Dean and James Johnstone look to challenge Matt Scott and Mark Bennett’s blossoming centre partnership.

“You just have to look at how well those guys have played when they have come in. It is a testament to the depth of the squad now that we can send a team last week that got a bonus point away in France,” Scott said.

“That’s difficult no matter what the opposition is, but these guys can step up another and play at that level. I think it is great and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Scott also considered how fixtures against the French sides seem to bring out the very competitive best in Richard Cockerill’s team.

“You only really think about it when somebody tells you that, and then you think, ‘Oh, yes, we have been good against French teams.’ I think the last couple of times we’ve played them we’ve just tried to keep the tempo high.

“Historically, they are big, heavy teams, big men and we try to move them around a bit. That has tended to work for us the last few times we’ve done it.

“Montpellier, Toulon, with bigger names in European rugby than our star players, I think it brings out the best from us. Same again this week against Bordeaux. They have some outstanding individuals, so it will be the same. We will all be wanting to test ourselves against these guys.”

Edinburgh will kick off against the Bordeaux Begles at 7:35pm, Friday 22nd November at BT Murrayfield.

Hibs sign ex-Liverpool goalkeeper Adam Bogdan

Ex-Liverpool goalkeeper Adam Bogdan has signed for Hibernian on a short-term deal.

The player is on a shorterm contract that will expire on December 31.

Bogdan is the first signing of the new Hibernian manager Jack Ross. Bogdan had a successful loan period with Hibernian last season.

The 32-year-old only played two games for Liverpool’s first team and will be joining the Edinburgh side in what is a tough time for Hibernian.

Havingalso  represented Bolton and Wigan, the Hungarian international told the club’s website: “I’m really happy to be at a club that means a lot to me. My family and I really enjoyed our time here last season and when the opportunity arose to sign, it didn’t take me long to think it over.”

The “chosen one” returns – Jose Mourinho unveiled as Tottenham Hotspur manager

Credit – Ronnie Mcdonald

Jose Mourinho has said he will look to ignite some “passion” and “happiness” to Tottenham Hotspur after being unveiled as the club’s new manager on Thursday.

The 56-year-old “chosen one” was appointed on Wednesday following the surprise sacking of Mauricio Pochettino.

The former Chelsea and Manchester United boss praised the quality of the Spurs training ground and the array of talent the club had at their disposal.

Mourinho added: “Happiness-wise I am convinced my choice was a great one.

“The club is huge. I know that I have potentially a great job in my hands.”

Mourinho put pen to paper securing him as Tottenham manager until the 2023, with a hefty £8 million annual salary.

He takes over a struggling Spurs side that are winless in their last five Premier League matches and are 14th in the table, 20 points behind league leaders Liverpool.

Image by MikesPhotos from Pixabay

Speaking about the new squad that Mourinho has inherited, he praised the board for keeping the outstanding players at the club and also added he will look forward to working with the youngsters and future stars of Spurs.

“The potential of the club is huge, the potential of the players is great I am so happy that was one of the reasons I came because of the vision that [club chaiman] Daniel Levy put in front of me about the club and the quality of the players and the squad.

“I know potentially I have a great job in my hands. I don’t need players I just need time.”

Spurs have not only had a change of head coach but hierarchy also revealed a revamp in their background staff, including well known Lille duo Joao Sacramento and Nuno Santos.

Can Erling Haaland light up the Premier League?

Red Bull Salzburg sensation Erling Haaland is rumoured to have visited Arsenal, with the intention of a possible transfer to the Gunners in the January.

The impressive youngster has had an eye-catching season so far after finding the net 26 times in just 18 appearances for Salzburg. It has been widely reported that many of the top European teams are interested in the 19-year-old, including English giants Manchester United who, like rivals Arsenal, offered the teenage goal machine the chance to view their impressive training complex in the hopes of turning the teenager’s head away from Salzburg.

However, a move to the Emirates Stadium would come as quite the shock if the transfer were to come in, as Arsenal already have huge talents in the striking department such as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Gabriel Martinelli, and with the hefty price tag that Haaland will come with, many fans believe other positions could be bolstered.

Although the duo of Aubameyang and Lacazette have both been turning heads, if either of Emery’s big-name strikers were to leave the London club, another centre forward would need to be acquired to help Arsenal to compete with teams in the Premier League and in Europe.

It is understood that Haaland’s father wishes the youngster to move to the Bundesliga with sister club RB Leipzig and champions Bayern Munich both  interested in the Norwegian’s talents to lead their respective attacking forces. However, it is undeniable that if big money offers from the Premier League were to be received, it would be incredibly difficult to ignore – especially with talk of his salary doubling.

Leipzig hold a key advantage in the race for Haaland as they have the option to sign him for just €30 million next summer, as a result of the relationship between them and Salzburg. English teams, meanwhile, have been quoted closer to €85 million, which would almost certainly be too much for Arsenal, who spent the majority of their transfer funds on failing winger Nicolas Pépé during the summer.

The quoted fee is more appealing to Manchester United who have found it increasingly difficult to find a consistent talisman as evidenced by their current position of 7th in the Premier League. Solskjaer has stressed to the United fans that his focus remains the development of young players, a category that Haaland certainly falls into.

By Aaron Purewal

RUNNING IN THE DARK: HOW TO STAY SAFE AND KEEP ACTIVE THIS WINTER

Keeping your running streak going during winter is tough. But running in the dark is not as daunting as you might think. (Credit: EN4 News)

We’ve all been there. You’ve been on a fitness kick all summer and you’re feeling great. You’ve settled into a running routine and nothing can stop you.

But then the seasons turn and the dark nights close in. You come back from work or university and it’s already dark outside, and the last thing you want to do is head back out into the cold for a run.

Well not anymore. These are excuses of the past and there is no reason why your hot running streak should freeze now winter has arrived.

With the help of Edinburgh running shop Run4It, here are three top tips that will get you prepared to keep running during those dreaded dark winter nights.

Follow the light!

This is fairly explanatory. If you’re going out for a run in the dark, you’re going to need a bright and reliable torch so you can see where you are going.

Head torches are the most obvious option, but if you’re thinking of just using one of those clunky head torches that you might associate with being on a camping trip then listen up: there are now head torches specifically designed for runners that are smaller and lighter than ever before while retaining impressive brightness and depth of the beam.

The Petzl Reactik Plus (left) features reactive lighting technology, while the Petzl Actik Core offers an impressive 350 lumens beam. (Credit: Petzl)

“There is a whole range of different head torches, it just depends on what you will be needing it for,” explains Run4It store manager Emma Burton.

“It generally depends on whether you will be running in complete darkness, in which case you will need a headtorch with higher lumens, or if you are going to be running in and out of areas that have light, such as the streets.

“Some head torches are reactive to your surroundings as well and are designed with a little sensor on the front. So if the sensor detects it’s getting darker it will automatically light up and that will save you having a fiddle with the buttons to make it lighter.”

The importance of being seen

While it’s important to be able to see where you’re going when you’re out on a run in the dark, it’s just as key for other people to be able to see you. This is especially important if you end up running alongside traffic.

You’re going to need some reflective gear, but that doesn’t mean you need to dress up in a bright yellow vest looking like you’re out on a French protest march. There are now a number of fashionable, lightweight running jackets that reflect light without being garishly yellow.

The Momentum (left) has a patterned reflective strip along the sleeves, chest, and back, while the Infinity (right) features an iridescent strip along the front. (Credit: Ronhill)

Ronhill’s See Me Run range, for example, features the Momentum and Infinity jackets, which offer reflectivity without looking like a typical reflective jacket. The Momentum is a dark blue jacket that has a patterned print along the sleeves, chest, and back that offers 360 degrees of reflectivity, while the Infinity is black with an iridescent reflective strip along the front, which lights up multicoloured.

“Even though the jackets are dark and you could wear them out and about, the reflective patterns and strips just gives you that extra bit of safety at nighttime,” Emma says.

Additionally, light clips and light armbands are also available to help you stay extra visible this winter. Emma says the clips and armbands are popular with customers because they are nonrestrictive and easy to use.

Don’t run alone, be social!

So you’ve got the gear, now you just need to get out and do it. But we get it, getting out and running in winter is just not an easy thing to do.

Emma’s top piece of advice is to join a running club or to get a group of mates together and run at the same time.

“It’s so easy when the weather is horrible to just sack it off and stay inside on the sofa, but having that group of people that you’ve already arranged to meet will keep you going,” Emma says.

Run4It organises a weekly running club on Monday evenings, offering an interval-based session around the Meadows or Holyrood Park. The sessions are free and it’s a great opportunity to keep your fitness up during the winter months.

“It’s an extra bit of motivation,” Emma says. “If you have something lined up once a week at a certain time you are more likely to keep going. It’s also a really friendly group and because it is so friendly a lot of people see it as a social session as well.”

SCOTLAND CALL-OFFS: WHY ARE OUR PLAYERS PICKING CLUB OVER COUNTRY?

Scotland will be without star players such as Liverpool’s Andy Robertson and Arsenal’s Kieran Tierney for their upcoming matches. (Credit: EN4 News)

 

The build up to Scotland’s upcoming European Championship Qualifiers against Cyprus and Kazakhstan gave been marred, once again, by several high-profile withdrawals from the squad.

Captain Andy Robertson, Liam Cooper, Ryan Fraser and Scott McTominay have all dropped out due to injury, while Arsenal have asked for key player Kieran Tierney to be left out after just returning from a long-term double hernia problem.

Scotland are unable to qualify through the traditional route with only two games remaining, but could still make it to their first major championships since 1998 if they can navigate their way through the UEFA Nations League. With little importance left on the last two games and a string of questionable late withdrawals from the squads, some have questioned whether the calls-offs are genuine, and if players are giving 100% when playing for Scotland.

All four players that have left the Scotland squad played for their clubs at the weekend, but only two, Liam Cooper and Scott McTominay, came off with injuries, while the others played the full 90 minutes with no apparent problems.

In August, we were given a glimpse into the attitude of some players towards playing for Scotland. A YouTube video surfaced of Sheffield United striker Oli McBurnie expressing his negative feelings towards playing for the national team. McBurnie later apologised for his comments, saying they were taken out of context.

 

Take our quiz to see if you can identify some of football’s craziest excuses and injuries

Former Scotland International Kevin Gallacher thinks key players have a poor attitude towards playing for the national team.

“I’m told now that clubs don’t want their players injured. So maybe players are looking after themselves a little bit more,” Gallacher told BBC Sport Scotland.

“Which means in games for Scotland they’re maybe not giving their 100%. In our time you just gave 100% whether you were going to get injured or not. It didn’t matter.

“I got injured a few times playing for Scotland and I went back to my club and they weren’t happy but for me it wouldn’t stop me playing for Scotland. No matter what, I was going to do it.”

Gallacher, who won 53 caps for Scotland, highlighted the issue of clubs putting pressure on their players to minimise the risk of injury.

Last year, Bournemouth demanded Ryan Fraser to not travel with Scotland to play Kazakhstan because the surface of the pitch in Astana was plastic. The club were concerned the chance of injury was too high, although there is no data to support that players get injured more often or severely on artificial surface as opposed to grass.

Scotland assistant manager Alex Dyer has refuted the claims that certain players are pulling out of the Scotland squad for reasons other than injury.

“If a player is injured, we can’t do anything about it,” Dyer said at a press conference this week.

“All the ones that have pulled out this time are genuinely injured. It’s not like they wanted to be pulled out or didn’t want to come.”

Scotland have had 27 call-offs since last November, far more than any other home nation. Two-thirds of players that have pulled out have featured for their clubs within two games of the club football restarting after the international break.

The statistics suggest that clubs are using certain international breaks that are seen as less important to them, allowing the players time to rest and recover from an ever demanding season of league, cup and European games.

While the other home nations have seen good levels of success in recent years, Scotland have had little to cheer about. With more dead rubbers coming up due to early exits from competitions, players are becoming more willing to miss games than in years gone by.

And until Scotland start to see some level of success, it is likely players will continue to choose their clubs over their country.

 

GLEN TONKIN: SHINTY STAR OPENS UP ON BATTLE WITH HIS MENTAL HEALTH

Glen Tonkin suffered with mental health issues in silence (Credit: EN4 News)

Five years ago, Glen Tonkin was Newtonmore Camanachd’s stern second-hand man, managing and training one of the best teams in shinty.

Glen had a firm hold over his team, and was as tough as he was on the pitch in his playing days. Glen had it all; the successful shinty career, a thriving flooring business and a loving family. But underneath his tough exterior was a life consumed by mental health problems, making every day a painful battle.

Although Glen developed a long-lasting love for shinty, it was a difficult start. Being from the north east, it was football that he’d grown up with. It came as a shock arriving in Newtonmore, where it was shinty or nothing. Quickly ejected from his comfort zone and hurdled into a very tightly knitted community, there was lots to adjust to. Having previously taken relief from his footballing ability, he experienced feelings of paranoia and anxiety from a very young age.

“It was pushing someone that was very comfortable in sport and kind of felt that I had a good social standing in sport through being good at football to all of a sudden being right at the bottom of the pecking order,” Glen says. “I really found that difficult.”

Progressing through juvenile level and into the second team, Glen still felt like a misfit. Different to all his teammates and struggling to feel a part of the team, he didn’t share his problems with team-mates or coaches with fear of being branded as “mental”.

Uncomfortable in his own skin, excessive binge drinking quickly became the first option to try and be the person he always thought himself to be.

“Even going back to the pub, you’d probably excessively drink

just to try and feel comfortable. You always thought after six vodkas, or six pints, I’ll be the kind of person you always perceived yourself to be, which was outgoing and having a good laugh. So I think it was hard because you wouldn’t open up to your teammates.”

Despite this being an intimidating environment, Glen always challenged himself to train with a deep desire to be better at the sport. This translated to his managerial career where he bravely put himself in the hot spot for judgement and criticism to challenge himself to success.

“It really was a challenge,” Glen says. “The easy thing would be to just switch off, go and hide away, play a sport that was just you so that you’ve got not one else to answer to. But I would always throw myself into these positions, which I also took as a sign of quite good strength.”

Regardless of his best efforts, some days he simply didn’t want to be there. Being in a place where everything and everyone appeared to be confrontational left Glen in a state of anxious paranoia where sometimes speaking to no one at all felt like the best option.

Glen had to step away from shinty to confront his mental health issues (Credit: EN4 News)

At his lowest, Glen found matches the most difficult to deal with. With high expectations from players, coaches and spectators. Glen was left terrified to let anyone down, leaving little joy in the sport to be had. As well as the expectations, he also found the confrontation of the opposition difficult to deal with.

“It’s a pretty horrendous place to be when you just want the ground to swallow you up,” Glen admits.

Glen stepped down from his position as manager in 2013 to confront his issues with mental health head on, putting his relationship with shinty to one side. Glen is now much more aware of his mental health on a day-to-day basis, and makes sure to implement simple structures which help him maintain healthy mental well-being.

His story goes to show that although sports such as shinty can bring joy through friendships, teamwork, success and fitness, it’s sometimes worth putting the sport aside to address underlying issues first in order to appreciate it at it’s fullest – in a healthier head space rather than ignoring them in the hope that they disappear.

A Wonderful World Cup in Japan

By Fergus Robb

With the Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan drawing to a close, it is nearly time to reflect on the ups and downs of the tournament to assess just how well the hosts have done.

Trials, tribulations and typhoons have filled the Japanese air during this tournament, and the World Rugby association board has come under a lot of scrutiny.

There is no doubt the brave blossoms of Japan have been fan favourites during this World Cup and have captured the heart of many a neutral rugby fan.

The Japanese culture is another aspect of the experience which has made this World Cup such an intriguing and exciting one.

With England and South Africa ready for a final showdown in the final game on Saturday, it is time to beg the question – was this a successful Rugby World Cup?

The tragedies of typhoon Hagibis left a lot of Japan in disarray. More importantly, World Rugby put safety at the forefront and cancelled games to ensure fan and game personnel’s security.

The typhoon caused major destruction across the country with flooding and structural devastation claiming lives.

World Rugby assured fans prior to the tournament that there would be typhoon contingency plans put in place, however many saw no such signs of this.

As a result of the poor planning on World Rugby’s behalf, some games were cancelled, upsetting fans on a global level. In one specific case, the Italy v New Zealand game being called off robbed the Azzurri of any chance to qualify for the knockout rounds and prevented a number of their experienced players from having a final send-off.

Outwith the devastation of the typhoon, the rugby world can agree that Japan have succeeded in hosting the tournament. The efficiency of those in charge has meant that, apart from the forced game cancellations, everything has run rather smoothly.

The stadiums, transport, fan zones and host cities were all ideal for a tournament such as this. The Japanese culture of respectfulness and joy was well reflected throughout the World Cup and could be seen upon the faces of many a fan during the games.

The success of the host nation during their campaign is hoped to have inspired a new generation of Japanese rugby players, as well as having caught the eye of every rugby fan in the world.

So, despite the minor setback of the most devastating typhoon to hit Japan in 60 years, the country was an excellent host for the Rugby World Cup. This tournament has played host to some of the most shocking rugby upsets and most entertaining games of the last few years.

With Wales and New Zealand fighting it out on Friday for the bronze medal, it is between England and South Africa to see who lifts the Webb Ellis Trophy come Saturday morning.

Regardless of these results, Japan, as a country, will end the tournament on a high and deserve to pat themselves on the back for a job well done as tournament hosts.

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