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On to the semi-finals

DHL Global Rugby Ambassador, Sean Fitzpatrick anticipates an exciting weekend of rugby action.

We’re now down to the last four teams and frankly it’s anybody’s championship at this point. All are strong teams with good game plans.

Looking back at the quarter finals, I must start with France’s 19-12 win over England. The French players have taken plenty of criticism over the last few weeks, especially after losing to Tonga, but I have to take my hat off to them. They were all class from 1 to 22 and showed that they can beat anyone.

Being an All Black, I know better than most that if you give the French an opportunity, they will exploit it. That was obviously a lesson England had yet to learn. They never got their game going, they gave away penalties, they made handling mistakes, and they lacked a game plan and leadership. Quite simply, they didn’t show up. Yet again we saw an English team full of potential, but not able to deliver.

Now you really have to admire Wales. They did have a game plan, produced by an outstanding coach in Warren Gatland. The Welsh are fast and strong and have youth and experience. They overshadowed a hugely experienced Irish team. Wales has ability and a real belief that they can win the Rugby World Cup.

Australia was the other big winner of the weekend. Everyone was questioning their ability to beat a resurgent Springboks team, but they produced a defensive performance of strength and resilience. Australia had to make 135 tackles to South Africa’s 54, and the Springboks had the ball 75% of the match. They should have won, but they didn’t.

For the Springboks, their defense of the cup is over and not reaching the quarter-finals will be seen as failure.

The All Blacks successfully negotiated their second match post-Dan Carter injury. Argentina looked good for 40 minutes and gave the All Blacks the physical game we expected.

Now we have this weekend’s semi-finals to look forward to! I will go for Wales to beat France because they have a game plan that they can execute and sky-high confidence.

The All Blacks semi-final match against Australia is another story – in all honesty a really tough call. As a Kiwi, naturally I’m hoping that the tough, physical match against the Springboks has taken a lot out of the Wallabies. How well will they recover? We’ll just have to wait and see.