Phil Gifford lists eight World Cup talking points following an action packed weekend of rugby.
So is the chariot swinging high or low, or somewhere in between?
England still feel, with the All Blacks and South Africa, like one of the genuine challengers. They have size in the forwards, and attacking abilities wide, with fullback Elliot Daly a real threat with the ball. But there were some weird little moments in the 39-10 win over Argentina in Tokyo. One was when the Pumas, in the first 17 minutes when they had an eight man pack, were able to master the English scrum. The Pumas' scrum spooks nobody in the southern hemisphere, so coach Eddie Jones might have wondered where the fissures that appeared early in the game in his pack came from.
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That thudding sound was Jonny Wilkinson banging his forehead in frustration
England won their only World Cup, in 2003, on the back of Wilkinson's kicking. If they win in Japan they'll need similar Swiss watch precision from Owen Farrell, who was batting zero from his first four attempts against the Pumas. Farrell found his mojo as the game went on, but if he has even a trace of Wilkinson's obsessive nature, he will spend this week making a forensic examination of why he was so wayward at the start.
Usually the impossible dream
When 14 play 15 in a rugby test, it takes a very special side to win when one man down. The Pumas were always likely to lose to England anyway, but when Tomas Lavanini's shoulder smacked into Owen Farrell's head, that was the end of any chance of an upset. England play such a structured game, they were always going to set up chances for themselves on the outside, and first-five George Ford is the astute game manager Farrell isn't, so Ford made sure the Puma defensive line was stretched so much that in the last quarter it was basically snapped.
Just the faint hint of a diamond in a coalmine
England scored six tries, some of them, like the 74th minute touchdown by wing Jack Nowell, genuinely exciting, while the Pumas scored just one, so late in the game there was no chance of a comeback. But technically it was the best try of all. Before Puma wing Matais Moroni plunged over there was a planned move from a lineout win, with two inside passes delivered at top speed with such pinpoint accuracy it wasn't so much a case of slack English defence, more one of proof that even in an age of rush defences, and massively organised, well coached, tackle lines, it is still possible, with enough pace and daring to score from a set piece.
You can't be a "little bit" pregnant Nigel
Outside of his own family, I doubt there's a bigger fan of referee Nigel Owens than I am. But when England centre Manu Tuilagi tackled Puma fullback Emiliano Boffelli in the air just two minutes after Lavanini was red carded, Owens didn't reach for a card. Both Bofelli's feet were off the ground. Tuilagi wasn't contesting for the ball. Boffelli landed heavily. The only way to make it any clearer on the replays was for cartoon balloons saying "Oof" and "Bash" and "Yellow Card" to appear on the screen. Astonishingly Owens only gave a penalty, saying Boffelli's feet were "close to the ground". For a referee of his talent, experience, and decisiveness, it was an amazing dereliction of duty.
Usually the impossible dream, Part 2
Japan's remarkable progress in Pool A, which continued with their 38-19 win over Samoa, is the story of the tournament to date. So it should be. It has everything. Hometown heroes, a giant (in this case Ireland) toppled, and a side that plays with the clear eyed courage and intent their great name, the Brave Blossoms, deserves. But, like all good fairytales, there's a potential ogre lurking, in the form of Scotland who Japan play next weekend. Having dealt with one European Goliath would it be too much of a Disney ending for Japan to beat Scotland too?
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Meanwhile in Wallaby world
To say the Wallabies have been slow out of the blocks in their three pool games to date is like suggesting a sloth takes its time to cross a road. I'd suggest the loss to Wales is the fairest measure of where this Australian team sits at the 2019 tournament. They still haven't found the ideal halfback and first-five combination, which is a shame for them, as in centre Tevita Kuridrani they have a strike weapon so potent that only Beauden Barrett offers more danger to an opposing team.
Dumb and dumber? Beyond that
When your coach, in this case Italy's Conor O'Shea, says he's surprised just one, not both of you, was sent off, something has gone very, very wrong. The twin spear tackle of South African captain Duane Vermeulen was at once dangerous, sickening, and also, at a World Cup where red and yellow cards have fallen like confetti, so stupid you wonder who they get to tie the bootlaces of Italian props Andrea Lovotti and Nicola Quaglio, because patently they'd lack the intelligence to master a knot themselves.