The Rugby World Cup kicks off at Twickenham on Friday 18th September, as hosts England open the tournament against Fiji. The four-year wait is nearly over and it’s just a matter of time until we find out if the all-conquering New Zealand can retain the title they won on home soil in 2011.
England will fancy their chances of making a third final in four World Cups, especially at home where they’ll receive vociferous support, and will hope to cause an upset by beating the All Blacks. The likes of South Africa, Australia and Ireland will also hope to spoil the party, but one thing is for sure, we’re in for a fantastic six weeks of top Rugby action.
We’ve already given our thoughts on New Zealand’s chances of winning the famous Web Ellis trophy, as well as England’s chances of making the final, and we’ll stick with our long-term bets. But there is also value to be had in betting on the teams to win each of the four pools, before the start of the competition comes around.
The group includes Australia, Wales, Fiji and Uruguay and won’t be easy by any stretch, but England are worth following on home soil with question marks over their main rivals. Australia are likely to pose the biggest threat, and they have the talent at their disposal to go all the way let alone win the pool. Whether they can put it together when it counts is another matter though, and they have a little bit to prove at the moment. They won the third-place play-off at the last World Cup, and will expect to reach the group stages at least.
Wales charge for the six nations came a little too late in the end, and ultimately they were undone by the early defeat to England. They don’t have the best of records in World Cups either, with the third-place play-off defeat in New Zealand four years ago their best result in recent times. They do have a talented squad but will have to beat England and Australia to top this pool, and that’s a big ask.
With the greatest of respect, Fiji and Uruguay can comfortably be ruled out, and all that might stand between England and topping the pool could be the match against Australia on the 3rd of October.
Pool B is a much more predictable affair with South Africa head and shoulders above every other side in the group. The Springboks are a best price of -1200 to top the section, and its hard to argue.
Their last World Cup win was in 2007 and they were disappointing in 2011, exiting at the quarter-final stage. Several of their players will hang up their boots after this tournament and this will be their last chance to perform on the big stage. That extra motivation could well make them a danger for the trophy, let alone the pool. Scotland, Samoa, USA and Japan have the ardous task of taking on South Africa, and none have the quality to trouble them.
Pool C is very similar, with New Zealand priced at just -4000 to get the better of Argentina, Namibia, Tonga and Georgia.
It would be a huge shock if the All Blacks were to drop points, and they should saunter through to the knockout stages with the minimum of fuss. Argentina may provide some resistance in the opening fixture for both sides on Sunday 20th September, but if the All Blacks get over that hurdle there will be no looking back.
Pool D is much more interesting, with France and Ireland looking like the two to compete for top spot, ahead of Italy, Canada and Romania. Ireland may be a short price, but after victory in the six nations, they’re worth backing to top this pool at -163 with BetVictor
It’s been a great two years for Irish Rugby after winning the six nations twice in a row, but the retirement of Brian O’Driscoll will be a big blow. Nonetheless they have quality throughout their ranks and remain a very strong side. Ireland beat France 18-11 at home back in February this year, and although on English soil, they are a fair bet to do the same again. They beat Italy 26-3 away from home during that tournament as well, and no doubt will have the measure of the Italians once again. Ireland play France in the final group game on Sunday 11th of October, and that could be a classic encounter to determine who takes top spot in the pool.
Italy may enjoy the chance to shine against the lesser lights of Canada and Romania, but they rarely trouble the top sides and there’s no reason to believe this World Cup will be any different. They’ve never made it out of the group stage before, and that doesn’t look like changing in 2015.
These early stages can be somewhat predictable, but there is always drama and there are some big games in store before we reach the knockout stages. England against Australia and Ireland against France could be the two deciders for our bets, and they’ll be great games to watch.
Rugby World Cup
18th September to 31st October
England to win Pool A
Ireland to win Pool D
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