New Zealand and South Africa are prohibitively priced to win their respective Rugby World Cup pools but one would not touch the latter with a ten-foot pole in light of the draw.
Opinions are divided as to whether New Zealand will make Rugby World Cup history and become the first side to retain the title but everyone agrees that the All Blacks are the team to beat. Consequently, no-one wants to face New Zealand in the Rugby World Cup knockout stage until the final and, ideally, everyone is hoping that someone else takes out the All Blacks for them. After all, New Zealand has a knack of choking in the Rugby World Cup before the championship game.
New Zealand is trading at top odds of -3333 with Winner to finish first in Rugby World Cup Pool C in which it will compete against Argentina, Georgia, Namibia and Tonga – never have the All Blacks lost to any of its group rivals, although the Pumas did force a draw in one of their 21 meetings versus the men from the land of the long white cloud. It is inconceivable that New Zealand will not win Rugby World Cup Pool C and enter the top half of the knockout draw. If New Zealand wins Rugby World Cup Pool C then the All Blacks will play the Pool D runner-up in the quarter-finals and either the Pool A runner-up or the Pool B winner in the semi-finals. That is interesting information.
Rugby World Cup Pool A is the most competitive of the four sections because it features Australia, England and Wales along with Fiji and Uruguay. Australia, England and Wales will be happy just to reach the Rugby World Cup last eight and, therefore, it is difficult to see how the Australians, English or Welsh could hand pick their quarter-final and semi-final foes – if they end up on the same side of the knockout draw as the mighty New Zealand then so be it. We fancy England to finish top of the pile in that pool.
But Rugby World Cup Pool B is a different kettle of fish, though, and one thinks that there is a case for backing Scotland to top the group at odds of +1000 with several bookmakers, including Bwin and Unibet.
Anyone who backs South Africa at best odds of -714 to win Rugby World Cup Pool B should consult a doctor because they need their head examined. Why on earth would South Africa willingly position itself on the same side of the Rugby World Cup knockout draw as New Zealand when it could plot a path to the final that would involve facing the Pool A winner in the last eight and the Pool D winner in the last four? The Rugby World Cup Pool A winner may be England and Twickenham would be the venue for that quarter-final showdown but it could just as easily be either Australia or Wales, while Pool D is 99.99 per cent likely to be taken out by either France or Ireland. Surely any of those possible assignments would be preferable to running into New Zealand in the Rugby World Cup semi-finals.
The Rugby World Cup program opens up the possibility of South Africa engineering its exact position in the knockout draw provided that the Springboks get the better of Pool B dark horse Samoa at Villa Park in their second group game. Beat Samoa and then South Africa could afford to lose to Scotland at St James’ Park, thereby qualifying from Rugby World Cup Pool B as its runner-up and ducking New Zealand.
Samoa is a live Rugby World Cup Pool B chance so one would not dissuade anyone from dutching both Scotland and the South Pacific islanders to top the section. However, the bookmaking fraternity is correct to favour Scotland over Samoa and the purpose of this weekly column is to flag big-price options so Scotland at odds of +1000 or perhaps a Scotland/South Africa straight forecast at +1200 with Coral is the bet.
Scotland to top Pool B
18th September 20:00
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