Tag: Japan

My 2015 Rugby World Cup predictions

With the 2015 Rugby World Cup (RWC), the premier international tournament in the sport of rugby union, scheduled for next month, I’m going to make predictions for every game of the entire tournament. Since this is a two-stage tournament, with a four-pool, 20-team round robin segment called the pool stage, followed by an eight-team elimination segment called the knockout stage, with a somewhat complex point system being used to determine standings for the pool stage, predicting the entire tournament correctly is extremely difficult, if not virtually impossible.

In the RWC, wins in the pool stage are worth four points, draws are worth two points (if two teams are tied after regulation in the pool stage, the game is declared a draw), and losses are worth zero points. Additionally, one bonus point is awarded for scoring four or more tries (in rugby, a try is scored by grounding the ball behind the opposing team’s goal line) in a game, and one bonus point is awarded for losing by seven points or fewer. I’ve listed games according to pool and in the order within the pool that they are scheduled to be played. I’m using the (winning team) (winning score)-(losing score) (losing team) format to display projections, with teams scoring bonus points (BP) being noted in parenthesis. For standings, if at least one game in a particular pool ends in a draw, I’ll use the win-draw-loss format for team records, and, if no games in a particular pool end in a draw, I’ll use the win-loss format for team records. Points are displayed as the following mathematical formula: (win and draw points)+(bonus points)=(total points)

Here are my predictions for the pool stage of the 2015 RWC:

POOL A (Australia, England, Wales, Fiji, Uruguay)

England 21-17 Fiji (Fiji BP)
Wales 32-6 Uruguay (Wales BP)
Australia 25-19 Fiji (Fiji BP)
England 17-17 Wales
Australia 49-9 Uruguay (Australia BP)
Fiji 20-19 Wales (Wales BP)
Australia 34-30 England (Australia and England BP)
Fiji 31-11 Uruguay (Fiji BP)
Australia 25-13 Wales (Australia BP)
England 71-3 Uruguay (England BP)

Australia – 4-0-0 – 16+3=19
England – 3-1-0 – 14+1=15
Fiji – 2-0-2 – 8+3=11
Wales – 1-1-2 – 6+2=8
Uruguay – 0-0-4 – 0+0=0

POOL B (Japan, Samoa, Scotland, South Africa, United States)

Japan 22-21 South Africa (South Africa BP)
Samoa 29-22 United States (Samoa and United States BP)
Scotland 11-10 Japan (Japan BP)
South Africa 57-24 Samoa (South Africa BP)
United States 22-20 Scotland (Scotland BP)
Samoa 31-12 Japan (Samoa BP)
South Africa 37-20 Scotland (South Africa BP)
South Africa 30-24 United States (South Africa and United States BP)
Samoa 27-15 Scotland (Samoa BP)
United States 22-21 Japan (Japan BP)

South Africa – 3-1 – 12+4=16
Samoa – 3-1 – 12+3=15
United States – 2-2 – 8+2=10
Japan – 1-3 – 4+2=6
Scotland – 1-3 – 4+1=5

POOL C (Argentina, Georgia Republic, Namibia, New Zealand, Tonga)

Tonga 40-15 Georgia Republic (Tonga BP)
New Zealand 19-18 Argentina (Argentina BP)
New Zealand 102-6 Namibia (New Zealand BP)
Argentina 38-10 Georgia Republic (Argentina BP)
Tonga 35-14 Namibia (Tonga BP)
New Zealand 49-18 Georgia Republic (New Zealand BP)
Tonga 22-9 Argentina
Namibia 24-19 Georgia Republic (Namibia and Georgia Republic BP)
New Zealand 32-20 Tonga (New Zealand BP)
Argentina 49-3 Namibia (Argentina BP)

New Zealand – 4-0 – 16+3=19
Tonga – 3-1 – 12+2=14
Argentina – 2-2 – 8+3=11
Namibia – 1-3 – 4+1=5
Georgia Republic – 0-4 – 0+1=1

POOL D (Canada, France, Ireland, Italy, Romania)

Ireland 36-11 Canada (Ireland BP)
France 40-36 Italy (France BP, Italy 2 BPs)
France 39-12 Romania (France BP)
Italy 29-16 Canada
Ireland 41-3 Romania (Ireland BP)
France 41-20 Canada (France BP)
Italy 33-29 Ireland (Italy BP, Ireland 2 BPs)
Canada 44-30 Romania (Canada and Romania BP)
Italy 55-12 Romania (Italy BP)
France 19-19 Ireland

France – 3-1-0 – 14+3=17
Italy – 3-0-1 – 12+4=16
Ireland – 2-1-1 – 10+4=14
Canada – 1-0-3 – 4+1=5
Romania – 0-0-4 – 0+1=1

In rugby union, tries are worth five points in a game, conversions after tries are worth two points in a game, and goals (which can be scored on either penalty kicks or drop kicks) are worth three points in a game. If I’ve predicted a team to win a game and earn a bonus point in the standings, lose a game by more than seven points and earn a bonus point in the standings, or lose a game and earn two bonus points in the standings, then I’m predicting that the team will score at least four tries in the game in question.

Since the top two in each pool advance to the knockout stage of the RWC, that means that I predict that Australia, England, South Africa, Samoa, New Zealand, Argentina, France, and Italy will advance to the knockout stage. In addition, I’m also predicting that, in addition to the eight teams that I’ve predicted to advance to the knockout phase, Fiji, the United States, Tonga, and Ireland will qualify for the 2019 RWC based on their performance in the 2015 RWC.

The quarterfinal pairings for the knockout stage are 1B (first-place from Group B) vs. 2A (second-place from Group A), 1C vs. 2D, 1D vs. 2C, and 1A vs. 2B, with the winners of the first two quarterfinal pairings facing each other in the first semifinal, and the winners of the last two quarterfinal pairings facing each other in the second semifinal. The winners of the semifinal matches advance to the final to play for the Webb Ellis Cup that is presented to the winner of the RWC, whereas the losers of the semi-final matches advance to the bronze final to play for third-place.

Should any knockout stage game end in a tie after regulation, two ten-minute extra time periods would be played, with both periods being played in their entirety regardless of whether or not scoring occurs and/or one team is ahead after the first extra time period. Should extra time end in a tie, a ten-minute sudden death extra time period, in which the first team to score wins, would be played. Should neither team score in the sudden death extra time period, a kicking competition, in which both teams will get five place-kicks at goal, would be played, and whoever kicks the most goals in the kicking competition wins. Should the kicking competition end in a tie after each team has taken five kicks, then a sudden death kicking competition, in which the kicking competition is continued until one team kicks a goal and the other team misses, would be played.

QUARTERFINALS

England 25-22 South Africa (Sudden Death Extra Time)
New Zealand 41-19 Italy
France 45-18 Tonga
Australia 36-15 Samoa

SEMIFINALS

England 26-23 New Zealand
Australia 24-21 France

BRONZE FINAL

New Zealand 33-27 France

FINAL

England 19-19 Australia (England wins in Sudden Death Kicking Competition 12-11)

I’m predicting that England, the primary host country of the tournament (Wales will host several games, although most of the games will be held in England), will win the 2015 Rugby World Cup and claim the Webb Ellis Cup.

CONFIRMED: Hillary Clinton was actively involved with developing TPP before she was against parts of it

Since launching her campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, Hillary Clinton has voiced opposition to parts of the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a proposed free trade agreement that, if fully implemented, would undermine American sovereignty and result in thousands of American jobs being moved overseas.

However, Hillary Clinton wasn’t simply for the TPP before she was against parts of it; she was heavily involved in developing the TPP before she was against parts of it. To prove this point, International Business Times, a business news website, linked to seven leaked diplomatic cables from September 2009 to February 2010 in their report about the U.S. State Department’s role in developing TPP under Hillary Clinton. These cables outline the then-Hillary Clinton-led U.S. State Department’s involvement in developing the TPP with other countries that would be parties to the TPP if fully implemented.

In chronological order according to the timestamp on each cable, here are the cables outlining how Hillary Clinton’s U.S. State Department was involved with the development of the TPP:

  • September 18, 2009 – New Zealand Trade Minister Tim Groser “expressed his firm belief that the U.S. Administration would move forward on expanding multilateral trade when the timing is right”.
  • September 30, 2009 – Then-U.S. Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg “was interested in moving beyond” the current bilateral trade agreement between the U.S. and Vietnam. Additionally, Then-Vietnamese Vice Foreign Minister (now-Vietnamese Foreign Minister) Pham Binh Minh complained that the U.S. was “too protective” regarding international trade.
  • November 27, 2009 – Then-U.S. Undersecretary of State Robert Hormats visited Japan on November 16 and 17, 2009, and his visit was viewed by Japanese officials as “a strong sign of the importance the United States attaches to the U.S.-Japan economic relationship”. However, Japan was “not ready to join a broad regional trade agreement due to sensitivities over agriculture” at the time.
  • December 22, 2009 – Then-U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam Michael Michalak hosted a dinner for representatives of would-be TPP member countries, and said representatives “inquired about the goals and objectives of the United States at the upcoming Melbourne (Australia) meeting March 15-19, including the shape and content of the agreement to make it a 21st century agreement, timing, and rules for new members”. Michalak was only mentioned by last name at the very end of the diplomatic cable and was never mentioned by first name in any part of the cable.
  • January 6, 2010 – Officials at the U.S. Embassy in Wellington, New Zealand requested “an additional officer in the Political/Economic Section” for, among other purposes, “allow the Economics Officer to focus on preparations for Trans-Pacific Partnership trade negotiations”.
  • January 28, 2010 – Officials at the U.S. Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia advised Then-U.S. Deputy Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis, who was referred to as an ambassador in the cable, on strategies for convincing Malaysia to join the TPP, including advising Marantis to “highlight the priority the Administration is giving to the Trans Pacific Partnership initiative, and the role that the TPP will play in promoting economic competitiveness and trade opportunities in the region”.
  • February 19, 2010 – Then-U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Frankie Reed engaged with New Zealand officials “on a wide range of topics including the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)”, and Mark Sinclair, New Zealand’s chief negotiator for the TPP, stated that the New Zealand government “views the TPP as a platform for future trade integration in the Asia Pacific (region)”.

The Deputy Secretary of State, Undersecretary of State, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, U.S. Ambassadors, and U.S. Embassies are all part of the U.S. State Department, both when Hillary Clinton was the head of the State Department, as well as today.

If you needed proof that Hillary Clinton’s recent opposition to parts of the TPP is purely political expediency, there it is. Her U.S. State Department has played a key role in developing the TPP, and that’s something that, as much as she wants to, she can’t deny.

I care about women in sports, thanks in no small part to the U.S. women’s soccer team

Last night, the U.S. women’s national soccer team (USWNT) defeated Japan by a score of 5 to 2 to claim the third Women’s World Cup for the United States and the first one for the U.S. in 16 years.

While an estimate of how many people watched the FOX telecast of the Women’s World Cup final, which was held in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, is not yet available, I was among the people who watched the Women’s World Cup final live, although I originally didn’t intend to. The start of the broadcast of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race from Daytona International Speedway in Florida, which was televised by NBC, was scheduled at roughly the same time as the opening kickoff of the Women’s World Cup final, and, as a big NASCAR fan, I originally intended to watch the NASCAR race live and watch the soccer game late at night via DVR. However, because rain delayed the start of the NASCAR race by over three hours, I ended up tuning into the soccer game live a couple of minutes after the start, right before Carli Lloyd scored the first of her three goals for the USWNT, and I ended up being able to watch the rest of the game live because the NASCAR race ended up starting well after the soccer game was over. I was not disappointed one bit by the soccer game, in fact, I’m absolutely excited that our nation’s women’s soccer team are, once again, the world champions of women’s soccer.

I hope that the incredible success of the USWNT in this year’s Women’s World Cup leads to a greater public acceptance, and a greater level of respect, for female athletes in all sports.

Usually, the only instances where female athletes get any significant level media attention in this country is when the Olympic Games are taking place, when the major tennis championships are taking place, when Danica Patrick runs in automobile races, and…you guessed it…when the Women’s World Cup of soccer is taking place. This is one of a number of reasons why women’s sports have not been accepted by as much of the American public as men’s sports have. I’m fortunate to have an expensive enough satellite television package where I can, during the winter months in non-Winter Olympic years, find women’s bobsled, skeleton, and curling on television. When female athletes do get a significant level of media attention in this country, it’s often in a sexist manner. When the sports media covers female athletes, they often talk about subjects like the athletes’ love/sex lives or whether or not they have kids, subjects that have nothing to do with an athlete’s performance and the sports media rarely talks about in regards to male athletes.

I hope the U.S. women’s soccer team’s World Cup victory leads to less misogyny towards, and more acceptance of, female athletes in all sports.