The New Zealand government an the IRB has to be extremely pleased with the way the Rugby World Cup has gone so far. With just the final to be played ticket sales target of 1.3 million has almost been met, generating revenues of $286.5m and although the tournament as a whole will result in a financial loss in the region of $40m for the New Zealand exchequer, it is far less than the pre tournament predictions. The long term financial benefits from advertising this beautiful and picturesque country to a global audience may far outweigh the short-term losses the tournaments makes initially.
The IRB will also be pleased that the rugby on show has been far superior and competitive than the 'kickfest' the 2007 tournament proved to be. It is also obvious that the gap that existed between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres has been reduced with Ireland's victory over Australia and Wales' narrow defeat to South Africa showing the improvements that have been made by the Home Nations, which has only improved the competition. So why has the tournament not quite feed the competitive appetite of all die hard rugby union fans?
There are many reasons this World Cup as a whole still those not live up to the expectations of rugby fans. The form of the Pacific Islander's has been one reasons for this, with their flare and power usually being one of the highlights of previous World Cups, not being present this time round. Fiji were particularly awful, as their lack of structure and the invention usually associated with the Islander's was greatly exposed in group D. Tonga managed one good performance when they shocked France but failed when it really mattered against Canada while a promising Samoan team were partially undone by the fixture list, which highlighted the poor treatment of the minnows at this tournament which has also left a foul taste for fans. The main reason that this world cup has not being as captivating as the IRB might have hoped is because from the off the Web Ellis Cup has seemed destined to go to the home team since way before the tournament began. The only hope is that a France team that has been playing poorly and with obvious trouble within the camp resurrects herself for one one-off game and makes the final at least competitive.
However in saying this since the All-Blacks won the first World Cup in 1987 they have been instilled as odds-on favourites at every world cup since and have yet to win their second Webb Ellis Cup. France twice have been their conquerors and have the potential if not the form to do something similar this time around. Its a World Cup Final after all and anything can happen. That's why I love this tournament.