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Who you should go for, and who will win the RWC quarter finals

England v Australia
Who should you go for? Very tough one here. As New Zealanders, industry standard is 'anyone playing Australia', but England, all Clive Woodward, Sweet Chariot, people with massive front teeth trampling you on their fox hunt and vinegar on chips are extremely unpleasant. I can't make you choose.

Who will win?  Very tough one here. Australia under Cheika are an enigma, certainly capable of beating anyone in the world, including us, but rarely do. England are not what they were two years ago, but look well well drilled, professional and determined. They'd keep it tight and no-frills if they were playing a wheelie bin, but if Australia can get a roll on, they could very get up. 

New Zealand v Ireland
Who should you go for? One of the harsh lessons NZers on their OE learn, apart from the 'two shots' rule in English pub pool, is that not everyone loves the All Blacks. We cheat, we steal players from elsewhere, we punch, bite and eye-gouge and everyone's over the haka. That's why everyone comes home, so that Grant Nisbett can tell us it's all going to be OK. That said, we're the best. So while an Ireland win here would be an absolute fairy tale and the rest of the world are behind them, in the words of the Eagles, there's going to be a heart ache tonight.

Who will win? Having got off the mark with two wins recently, Ireland know they can beat the All Blacks, but doing it here and now would be one of the all-time great RWC upsets. They've come down from their peak of a couple of years ago, and are missing key man Bundee Aki, which is tough when they needed everything to go their way. Meanwhile, the All Blacks are rolling out the meticulously planned and ruthlessly executed peaking / focus blueprint we've perfected since 2011. If we can keep doing that, we will be more than OK.

Wales v France
Who should you go for? Wales are everyone's favourite six nations team, cos they used to be good in the 70's and never beat us. France are generally fantastic in a moody kind of way, and make everyone sound like a rugby expert if you can just remember to say 'the French are pretty unpredictable eh'.

Who will win? Wales should be too strong, especially has France seem to be having internal ructions over who is in charge. But - France are very unpredictable (heeeeyyyyyyyyyy), and it would be extremely French if they turned around and won this one, while looking as moody and disinterested as a Parisian exchange student sneaking a cigarette outside the mall when they should be at school.

Japan v South Africa
Who should you go for? Well duh.

Who will win? Everything points to the Boks, but it did in 2015 too and Japan won that one. Japan have home advantage and self belief that's endearing, a bit delusional and built on a really good game plan. If they can somehow catch South Africa napping, they could very well get home. But - South Africa are comfortably in the top two teams here, have had plenty of time to study the tapes, and it would be extremely surprising if they were caught by surprise. 

Thanks for reading - Richard
 
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How SKY's rugby extremely-uncontroversial-ex-player-banter index could go even higher under the new arrangement [NZ Herald]

...while Trevor McKewan's backgrounder is the most comprehensive run-down on this whole SKY v Spark carry on, until the next thing happens [The Spinoff]

If you thought Air New Zealand had been quiet lately, that's because they were getting set to take their safety video comedy stylings to even greater heights - as background, Toby Manhire talks you through the time they tried to troll Steve Smith. And failed [The Spinoff]

.... and this piece of genius has been doing the rounds on Twitter:


 

Video nasty

Here's how Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in North London is transformed into an NFL venue, including a whole new pitch.

Long read

Was the automotive era a terrible mistake? How cars won, and why we should be reigning them back  [New Yorker]
 

Recommendation

Thoroughly enjoyed an all-too-short visit back to the Breaking Bad universe with El Camino, which is on Netflix right now. Entirely satisfying if you've missed hanging with Jesse and Walt - and if you haven't had the pleasure, Breaking Bad is on Lightbox. Not really a spoiler, but.... how much of a psycho is Todd?!? Highly recommended.  

Selected weekend fixtures 

  • So - Saturday's RWC quarter finals are England v Australia at 8.15pm and us v Ireland at 11.15pm, while on Sunday it's Wales v France at 8.15pm and Japan v South Africa at 11.15pm. Now we're into it! This is all on Spark Sport.
  • It's knock out weekend in the Mitre 10 cup too, starting with BOP v Manawatu at Rotorua tonight at 7.30pm, the draw is here, it's on SKY
  • Silver Ferns play Australia in Sydney on Sunday afternoon at 3pm, it's on SKY
  • The Phoenix play Sydney FC in Sydney at 6pm on Sunday, it's on SKY
  • It's Man U v Liverpool at 4.30am Monday morning, it's on Spark Sport

Bring back the gif 

When the morning tea has carrot sticks instead of caramel squares.
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