Apropos of some of the reactions to Albion's unexpected revival, an example of which is Perm's post in the "knockout stages" thread:
This year we've had the All Blacks resting their best 22 players for the first 7 rounds of the Super 14, South Africa sending a weakened squad to the Antipodes in the Tri-Nations & Wales playing a third or fourth choice XV at Twickers in one of the warm-up games and going down by a record score. All done in the name of the World Cup.
As Perm observes England have been fairly ordinary 4 years but have now found ourselves in the final. Does this mitigate what has gone before? Conversely does New Zealand's failure to make the semi-finals negate a period of almost unprecedented success? Three consecutive Tri-Nations titles, a whitewash of the British Lions and a grand slam tour of Britain are impressive achievements, but will ultimately Henry's reign be judged as a failure because he couldn't land the "big one"?
Is Rugby going down football's (the association variety) route of "friendlies" and thus sacrificing the concept of test match Rugby on the World Cup alter? Would Rugby be better served by a league table like cricket has? Or is the tournament the jewel in the sport's crown and the only chance for the lesser nations to match up to the big boys?