So of course mere minutes after I posted my last blog entry yesterday, Ireland coach Declan Kidney announced that they would in fact be playing hooker Rory Best. Just think: if I had been a little lazier, I would actually have more credibility now. I don't think this is how journalism - even sports journalism - is supposed to work.
Matchup:Pool B Winner England v. Pool A Runner-Up France on Saturday, October 8th
Current IRB Rankings:England (4); France (8)
First Test Match:March 22nd, 1906; England wins 35-8
Test Match Record:94 played, England won 51, France won 36, 7 draws
England RWC 2011 Pool Record:4 Wins (Argentina 13-9, Georgia 41-10, Romania 67-3, and Scotland 16-12), 0 Losses
France RWC 2011 Pool Record:2 Wins (Japan 47-21 and Canada 46-19), 2 Losses (New Zealand 37-17 and Tonga 19-14)
Analysis:Look, nobody expected France to beat the All Blacks at any stage of this tournament, so the real question is "how significant is the loss to Tonga?" Thing is, England took care of business and beat everyone they should have in the pool stage, and France didn't.
Both sides should be at more or less full strength, with England wing Delon Armitage suspended for the match as a result of his high tackle against Chris Paterson in their match against Scotland, and France center Fabrice Estebanez suspended for three weeks for his dangerous tackle during the Tonga match. France has already made the news with its lineup announcement, replacing prop Luc Dulcalon and number 8 Rafael Lakafia with Nicholas Mas and Imanol Harinordoquy, respectively, and scrumhalf Morgan Parra moved to flyhalf. They've also had to answer charges that the squad is in disarray, and that tempers are flaring.
This match is always a great battle, but all the signs are pointing towards England winning this one. That's not a sure thing by any stretch, though.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images.