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World Cup 2017 Grading- How Did Your Nation Fare?

Italy-

Compared to the 2013 World Cup, the Azzurri have had a relatively more dramatic World Cup experience. Whether it be big wins over the likes of USA, or team-mates brawling in Cairns bars, the Italians certainly experienced it all.

Cameron Ciraldo’s side who picked up just the one win during their 2017 journey, boasted the likes of NRL superstar, James Tedesco, as well as experienced heads such as Terry Campese and captain Mark Minichello.

Despite this, there seem to be a spark missing from the Italians, who never really looked like being the victors in their matches against Fiji and Ireland.

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Their whole tournament was overshadowed by an alleged altercation between Tedesco and team-mate Shannon Wakeman in the early hours, something which Italy’s officials were quick to sweep under the carpet.

It is hard to know where Ciraldo’s men go from here- they have some flair players, but unless they can come together as a collective unit, the Azzurri won’t be troubling anyone other than their group stage opponents anytime soon.

The end of this campaign- for a whole host of reasons- can’t have come soon enough for Italy.

Grade- D-

USA Hawks

It seems like an eternity since Brian McDermott’s USA side finished top of group D at the 2013 World Cup, following victories over the Cook Islands and Wales.

The side which progressed to the last eight in England, albeit suffering a 62-0 loss at the hand of Australia, seems a distant memory.

This time around, it looked like the Hawks just didn’t have the depth or the talent needed to overcome Italy, Fiji or PNG.

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Two defeats to nil will surely leave a sour taste in the mouths of anyone associated with United States Rugby League, and they looked a complete shell of the side which proved to be the surprise package this time four years ago.

North America have won the rights to host the 2025 edition of the World Cup and, admittedly, rugby league development is still in its infancy over in the US.

American officials will be hoping that foundations can be put in place over the coming years to ensure that the team fielded for the US’s first home Rugby World Cup will be far more competitive than this year’s offering, and hopefully the shambles of this year’s performance will be forgotten as quickly as possible.

Grade- E

Fiji

Despite falling at the semi-final stage to a Valentine Holmes-inspired Australia team, the Fijian’s can be proud of a tournament which allowed them to cement themselves as one of the powerhouses of Rugby League.

Although they got to the semi-final stage of the last tournament, the reinvigorated presence of the Tongans left rugby fans all over the world thinking that the final four of the competition was all but sealed.

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But the Fijians had other ideas, coming off the back of three emphatic wins to top their group. They went into their clash against 2008 champions New Zealand full of confidence, and the manner in which they restricted the Kiwis to just one penalty goal was nothing short of remarkable.

Mick Potter’s men can reflect on a tournament full of positives; try-scoring flair, steel in defence and a team full of top-quality sportsmen. Fiji Bati will be hoping that, come 2021, they are able to fight for a place in the final.

Grade- B+

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