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Can the USA break into the top 4?

International Cup 2011

Men's Division 1

While there's been plenty of improvement across the board, the IC11 has shown again the gulf between the big 3 of PNG, New Zealand and Ireland and the rest of the field - the Big 3 having won one International Cup each to date, and always finishing top 4.

Number 4 at this point still looks likely to be South Africa, as was the case in 2008, although the Lions will be up against a USA side tomorrow who are eager to prove they can match it with the best of them.

Wednesday's matches will see the top four sides of Division 1 go into semi-finals, with the winners to play for the International Cup the following weekend. Those four will be PNG, New Zealand, Ireland and one of either South Africa or the USA.

The next group will be the teams finishing 5-8 on the table; Denmark, Great Britain and Nauru already being confirmed to be in this group, and the loser of South Africa vs USA to join them.

The only Division 1 matches already set (unofficially) for Wednesday are those which will decide who plays for 9th and who for 11th - these will see Canada clash with Japan and Sweden against Tonga.

Men's Division 2

In Division 2, it looks likely that France will meet Fiji in the Grand Final on Friday, unless on Wednesday either China can pull off a major upset over the Fijians, or the Peace Team do the same over the French. A more even match-up should be India vs Timor-Leste, with both sides coming off a number of heavy losses compounded by major injuries, and eager to break through for their inaugural international win.

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Can the USA break into the top 4? | 3 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Can the USA break into the top 4?
Authored by: Aaron Richard on Sunday, August 21 2011 @ 10:57 am ACST

After the first qurater, looks like the answer is Yes, they can.

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Can the USA break into the top 4?
Authored by: Brett Northey on Sunday, August 21 2011 @ 11:34 am ACST

Wow, 3/4 time and almost all over, USA to return to the top 4.  Where has that come from?  I used to follow the US pretty closely but have had to defer that to others with so much to do on WFN.  Is it growth at local level, better selection?  Not that many new clubs as such, but maybe those clubs are doing well with the metro leagues giving more local games?

However, I did express concern that South Africa are not quite kicking on to the next level, and I think that may be a valid conclusion here too.  Assuming the US go through, it will be interesting to see if they can match it with the Big 3.  To think that Canada is looking at a poor tournament in pure position terms and yet they were right in it against the US.

Brett Northey - Co-founder and Chief Editor of WFN
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Can the USA break into the top 4?
Authored by: Aaron Richard on Sunday, August 21 2011 @ 11:44 am ACST

Very true - I thought South Africa might have plateaued a bit, after lots of growth between the first three ICs.  There might be some questions now regarding South Africa in terms of value for money on the AFL's investment - we still haven't really seen them produce any AFL draft picks, besides the occasional rookie like Sobetwa (contrast with much cheaper development options such as Mike Pyke, the Irish, and the rookie guys now looking likely out of the Pacific), and also not quite able to seriously challenge to PNG or NZ to win the IC.

I should make clear I'm not knocking the AFL for having a crack in South Africa, as with any experiment it's worth sticking it through.  But in the long run it may turn out there's more bang for your buck in other areas.


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