Battling to represent the Six Nations are Wales and France who meet at Eden Park, Auckland on Saturday in a match that clearly could go either way but it is the Welsh who have been made narrow favourites to make their first ever World Cup final.
They played outstandingly well to defeat Ireland in the Quarter Final, particularly in the second half, such was their dynamic performance that there are many highly regarded rugby pundits suggesting that they could go all the way and win the Webb-Ellis Cup!
Wales Coach, Warren Gatland, in fact went out to New Zealand with a lot more confidence than he was letting on. His side had three excellent warm up matches and although they lost the first of those to England, they avenged that defeat with a comprehensive 19-9 victory a week later at the Millennium Stadium.
That win was followed up with a comprehensive 28-13 victory over Argentina which is why they went into their opening World Cup pool fixture against South Africa extremely confident.
In the event, they lost that match (unluckily) by a single point but they showed enough ability to suggest that they could easily reverse that result should the two teams meet again the final. Wales went on to win all three remaining pool fixtures which included a huge 66-0 win over Fiji, a win that well and truly buried the nightmares of the 2007 Rugby World Cup.
It came as no surprise therefore to see Wales outplay Ireland but now they must take on France, rejuvenated it would seem after stories of dressing room unrest in the Pool stages of the competiton.
France have beaten Wales the last three times they have met, including a 28-9 demolition back in March this year in the Six Nations. However, the French were poor against the "All Blacks" in their Pool fixture and even worse in defeat to Tonga in what remains the biggest shock of this current World Cup.
It was with some surprise therefore to see "Les Bleus" come out with such verve against England in the Quarter Final. They took the game to Martin Johnson’s men with great panache playing extremely well throughout and fully deserving the 19-12 victory.
Assuming the French players are back on side with coach Mark Lievremont, then the team should have what it takes to get the better of Wales in this match but they will have to take into account that the Welsh team they face on Saturday will be a shadow of the team they beat in Paris earlier in the year and winning is far from a formality against a Wales team full of momentum.
A very close match which has the potential to be an epic could be the reward for rugby fans everywhere. The teams look extremely evenly matched, but the Welsh back row, led by skipper Sam Warburton will have the French half back pairing in their sights from the kick off and it is here where the match could be won or lost.
Additionally, in Mike Phillips at scrum half, Wales have a player at the top of his game who not only scores vital tries, his passing is so accurate and quick that he provides the much added dimension that Wales have been thriving on all tournament and with such belief, Wales can reach their first ever World Cup Final!
Written by Rod Crowley