Pool play has mercifully ended; a slate of high-octane quarter-finals lies in wait. It's time to roll out Fact or Fiction.
JAPAN, THE TEAM, HAVE SAVED JAPAN, THE COUNTRY'S, WORLD CUP
A slew of game-distorting cards, whole weeks of insipid mismatches and thundering typhoons, the early stages of this World Cup will not be remembered kindly by historians of the 15-man code.
Then again, we had Japan.
What a revelation the Cherry Blossoms have been under the guidance of former Highlanders Jamie Joseph and Tony Brown. Not only have they beaten Six Nations sides Ireland and Scotland in Pool A, but they did so playing a dynamic and attractive style of rugby that few have dared to employ on the biggest stage.
FICTION: If we'd posited the idea that Japan had saved the group stages from ignominy, that would have been largely true, though still unfair on games like New Zealand v South Africa, Wales v Australia and even Uruguay v Fiji, which were fantastic advertisements for the sport.
The problem is we always trick ourselves into thinking the World Cup is a two-month rugby extravaganza when really it starts about now. This is not unusual. Aside from the All Black matches and the grupo de la muerte involving England, Australia and Wales, what do you really remember about the group stages four years ago? Honestly?
This edition has been especially exasperating due to fact that cards, no matter how justified, have had such an overbearing effect on games. Throw in the non-performance of the Pacific Island nations and the typhoons that wreaked havoc on the final weekend and you have an imperfect storm of circumstances that have contributed to a flat first month.
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As hosts, Japan have felt the pressure to perform and their opening match against Russia was a fairly wretched affair that didn't augur well for the rest of the tournament, but since then they have been astonishing and have lifted the spirits of rugby fans, not just their own, around the world.
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Nothing against South Africa (well, actually, a little bit against them) but if the Cherry Blossoms can repeat their upset of four years ago and win their quarter-final, this tournament will officially be on fire.
THE TOP HALF OF THE QF DRAW IS MUCH STRONGER THAN THE BOTTOM
Well, we would say this down this part of the world wouldn't we, because it's the side of the draw the mighty All Blacks reside in.
Given the fact that they're playing the team that came into the tournament ranked No 1 in the world, the same team that has beaten them two out of their past three meetings, then it's clear that some paths to the final have less resistance than others.
FACT: There's not too much doubt that the odd upset and circumstance has led to, on paper at least, a much softer set of Sunday matches than Saturday.
If you're a fan of the number-crunching that goes into the world rankings, this is how the quarter-finals line up as per rankings at the start of the World Cup.
Saturday: England (3) v Australia (6); New Zealand (2) v Ireland (1).
Sunday: Wales (5) v France (8); Japan (10) v South Africa (4).
The discrepancy is huge. But wait, you say, some teams sandbag leading up to a World cup and as a result their rankings are not truly reflective. It would be much more accurate to take the pulse now. It's true, form fluctuates and as a result some teams have shifted.
Saturday: England (3) v Australia (6); New Zealand (1) v Ireland (4).
Sunday: Wales (2) v France (8); Japan (7) v South Africa (5).
It's a slight closing of the gap, but nothing that should dissuade you from thinking that Saturday is pure rock 'n' roll, Sunday is open-mic night at the folk club.
Wales are sneaky good. Don't write them off. Japan are the darlings of the tournament and have over-achieved to get to the quarters. South Africa are limited in scope but do what they do well with typical aggression. France are France. Yep, you'd pick that half of the draw any day of the week.
THE ALL BLACKS EXTENDED REST PERIOD WILL HELP THEM THIS WEEK
There seems to be some debate as to whether playing Italy on Monday was ever an option but if it was ever proposed it would have been given short shrift because nobody in their right mind would choose to play on quarter-final on short rest.
Instead the All Blacks have had 13 days to rest niggles, inject protein shakes and construct a game plan to beat all comers.
As Eddie Jones playfully asserted after England's match with France was cancelled, the "typhoon gods" have come to his aid.
FICTION: Not buying this. Well that's not strictly true. Not yet though.
If the All Blacks by chance make it through to the semifinal and face Australia, that extra rest will be useful. If they reach the final and meet anybody bar France, the fact they will have played five games to their opposition's six will be an advantage.
This week, however, it feels like a disadvantage.
Italy was the perfect tune-up for a quarter-final: a Clayton's Tier One side that will huff and puff for a while without ever threatening to blow your house down. The All Blacks will have enjoyed the chance to work through a first-phase set plays and get some playing time into a few underdone sets of legs.
That didn't happen. Opening with a tough pool match, having two soft outing then closing with a decent workout was ideal. Not having a decent hit out for 28 days is far from ideal.
The intensity of the Springbok match is just a dot in the rearview now. Ireland, meanwhile, will be just a week removed from playing Samoa, having also traversed Scotland and, obviously, a much tougher than expected Japan.
The All Blacks still deserve favouritism, but Ireland wouldn't trade their preparation for New Zealand's.
The draw when combined with Hagibis has really not worked in their favour… yet.