The 2015 Rugby World Cup is set to be played in England from the 18th of September to the 31st of October, and it feels like a long time since New Zealand lifted the famous Web Ellis trophy on home turf four years ago. It will be a spectacular event, and England fans will be hoping that home advantage will help their squad to emulate the success of Johnny Wilkinson and Co. in 2003, but the All Blacks are strongly fancied to retain the title after dominating the International scene for the last few years.
The World Cup has been contested every four years since 1987 and England will be boosted by the fact that the home nation has reached the final in five of the seven tournaments. New Zealand won that first tournament, which was co-hosted by themselves and Australia; The Aussies took the tournament in 1991 when it was held across England, France, Ireland, Scotland and Wales; South Africa won their own World Cup when it was held there in 1995, and Australia won it again in Europe when they were victorious in Wales in 1999. England beat the Wallabies when the tournament was held on their soil in 2003, and South Africa were victorious again in 2007 when they lifted the trophy in France. New Zealand are the current holders after beating the French 8-7 in the final four years ago. France have been runners-up on three occasions without ever winning, and every final has been contested between two of the five teams mentioned – England, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and France.
Team by Team
New Zealand are generally accepted as far and away the best side in International Rugby at the moment. They’re a very short price for victory at the World Cup, but for a very good reason. Their 22-test unbeaten run was brought to an end last October when they were beaten by South Africa, which was the first loss the All Blacks have suffered since losing to England at Twickenham in December 2012. However, there remains a brutal efficiency about the way they play the game, and in Dan Carter they have a great fly-half, perhaps one of the best to have ever played the game. If we were looking for a chink in their armour it might be that they’ve never won a World Cup in the Northern Hemisphere, but that’s probably clutching at straws. They look to have a serene route to the semi-final from a pool which includes Argentina, Tonga, Georgia and Namibia, then a potential quarter-final against either France or Ireland.
England – +400 with Paddy Power
Home advantage can play a big part for England and they’ll be counting on the Twickenham crowd to spur them on. They face a tough match against Australia in pool A, which also includes Wales, Fiji and Uruguay, but if they can defeat the Wallabies they ought to top the group. If they do so they are likely to encounter Scotland or Samoa in the quarter-final, then possibly Ireland, France or Argentina in the semi-final. Performances in the Six Nations tournament weren’t overwhelming, but England still went close, and having been building for this for the last four years, they can be expected to raise their game significantly for a World Cup in front of their own fans. They have every chance of avoiding the All Blacks until the final, but that may be a game too far. Rather than backing England to win, a bet on the home nation to reach the final makes a little more appeal.
To reach the final – +163 with Paddy Power
The South Africans look like the only potential fly in the ointment for New Zealand and England, and the recent win over the All Blacks will have inspired confidence. The two could well be on a collision course for a semi-final match up, though, and few would bet against the Kiwi’s taking their revenge. South Africa should coast through pool B, which features Samoa, Scotland, USA and Japan, and will probably face Wales or Australia in the quarter-final. They are good value for a semi-final place at least, and if New Zealand under-perform, South Africa are probably the side most likely to take advantage.
Australia aren’t the force they once were, and although they can be dangerous on their day, it’s hard to see them having enough to win this tournament. Michael Cheika took over as coach at the end of last year after Ewen McKenzie’s shock resignation, and he’s had precious little time to work with the players. They retain enough quality to make the quarter-finals at least, but don’t appeal as outright winners.
Ireland – +1000 with Ladbrokes
Ireland won the Six Nations this year, but missed out on the Grand Slam after defeat to Wales in Cardiff. Many will feel there is more to come from this team and it could be their best chance of a World Cup in some time. They’ve reached the quarter-finals five times in the past, but never progressed further, and they’ll be hoping plenty of fans make it across to England to spur them on as they try to make history. The also beat France this year in the Six Nations, and they’ll play them again in pool D along with Italy, Canada and Romania. If the Irish can top the pool they’ll probably end up with a quarter-final against Argentina and are fancied to reach the semi’s, but that may be where the journey ends.
France – +2200 with Paddy Power
France have contested three World Cup finals but have never finished on the winning side, and this isn’t a vintage French team. If they can pip Ireland to top spot in pool D they could surprise and reach the semi-final, but have to be expected to come up short against the likes of South Africa, New Zealand, and (with home advantage) England.
There will be plenty more betting action to come as the tournament draws closer, but for now it’s sensible to get on a couple of bets that will surely be much shorter odds by the time kick-off comes around.
Rugby World Cup – 18th September to 31st October 2015
England to reach the final – +163 with Paddy Power
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