Ireland and Scotland headline a lopsided Pool A. Ireland, the world’s number one ranked side, are heavy favourites to progress into the quarter finals as pool winners. The two Six Nations sides are joined by hosts Japan, Samoa and Russia in this group.
Japan will be the strongest of that trio and they might get a home crowd boost but you can’t see far past an Ireland-Scotland straight forecast at 4/11.
Again, you would say this Pool is a foregone conclusion. Pre-tournament favourites New Zealand and South Africa have the firepower to blow Canada, Italy and Namibia out of the water. The top seeding will most likely come down to the clash between the All Blacks and the Springboks on the opening weekend. Third place, and the automatic qualification for the 2023 World Cup that comes with it, will be contested between Canada and Italy.
Take your pick here, it be will be New Zealand-South Africa one-two in either order.
Pool C has a slightly more open look to it. Eddie Jones’ England side are the favourites to progress and rightly so. They have built a strong squad to suit Jones’ gameplan and they have shown in their two victories over Ireland this calendar year that they are more than capable of beating strong opposition on any territory.
France and Argentina will most likely duel it out for second place in this Pool. Both nations always seem to find form for the World Cup. They both reached the knockout stages in 2015 with Argentina eventually finishing fourth after claiming a surprise win over Ireland in the quarter final. They play each other on the opening weekend in Tokyo and that fixture will go a long way to deciding their fate.
Tonga and USA will play to avoid the Pool C wooden spoon in the final group game on the 13th October.
Again, this is a Rugby World Cup Pool that is hard to predict. Wales are odds-on favourites to progress as winners at 10/11 with Bet365. However, they will face tough opposition in the form of Australia, Fiji and the hard-nosed Georgians before they can claim a place in this year’s quarter final.
Wales open their campaign on Monday the 23rd against Georgia but they will be paying close attention to Fiji vs Australia on the Saturday before. The Flying Fijians bring their unique brand of rugby to the World Cup with the potential to cause an upset. They famously overturned a talented Wales side in 2007 and something similar could be on the cards in this tournament.
The other side in this Pool, Uruguay, showed some decent form in 2018 with wins over USA and Canada but they will most likely struggle here.
To Win Outright
There has been plenty of talk regarding the narrowing of the gap between northern and southern hemisphere teams in this decade. Ireland beat New Zealand for the first time ever in 2016 and repeated it in 2018. Joe Schmidt’s men have also recorded their country’s biggest victory over Australia (38-3) and beat South Africa 2-1 in a Test series on African soil in the last three years. Eddie Jones’ England have won six straight against Australia while Wales have won four in a row against South Africa.
Having said all of that, the most likely final pairing on the 2nd of November is Pool B opponents South Africa and New Zealand. The All Blacks haven’t been firing on all cylinders in 2019 but any side with the Barrett brothers and exhilarating wing pair Rieko Ioane and Sevu Reece will go a long away. We could well be seeing Kieran Read lift the Webb-Ellis for New Zealand’s third victory in a row.
The powerful South Africans will have a big say in this tournament too. They won their first Rugby Championship since 2009 this year and they might just fancy their chances of upsetting New Zealand on the opening weekend to make their path to the final much easier. Exciting winger Cheslin Kolbe will cause damage to any team.
Of the northern hemisphere teams it looks as though Ireland or England are the only two that will pose a real challenge. As we have mentioned, England are peaking at the right time and they have an exciting team with Maro Itoje and Joe Cokanasiga part of a young core who have blended with experienced internationals Owen Farrell, Jonny May and Mako Vunipola. A potential semi-final with New Zealand lies in wait which could put paid to their World Cup dreams.
If this tournament started at the end of 2018 then Ireland would probably be favourites. An epic home victory over the All Blacks put Irish rugby in the limelight and they seemed primed for a tilt at the Six Nations and the World Cup in 2019. A disappointing Six Nations campaign started and finished with a defeat to England and Wales respectively. They managed three patchy wins over Scotland, France and Italy in between but overall their form has been poor and odds of 9/1 with GiveMeBet reflect the sentiment around this squad. They suffered an embarrassing 42-point defeat to England in August and Schmidt controversially cut Devin Toner from the World Cup squad. A victory over Wales in their final warm-up match put them top of the world rankings for the first time ever but in reality they seem well off the pace. A first-ever semi-final appearance might be the best they can hope for.
Outright Betting (odds correct on 16/9)
New Zealand 5/4 South Africa 4/1 England 4/1 Ireland 9/1 Wales 9/1
There are two factors that need to be considered when looking at the top tryscorer markets.
- Does the player play for a team that will go far in the competition?
- What’s his competition like in the pool stages?
With this taken into account, we will predominantly be looking at South African and New Zealand players in this market.
The Pool B rivals are favourites to go all the way to the final and they could put up some big scores against Italy, Namibia and Canada.
The Springboks Cheslin Kolbe is our first pick at 12/1. The diminutive back is a cousin of Olympic champion sprinter Wayde van Niekerk and he’s got speed to burn too. The twinkle-toed Toulouse player has five tries in six starts for South Africa and he could be the breakout star of this World Cup.
All Blacks pair Rieko Ioane and Sevu Reece are joint favourites for this gong at odds of 15/2 with Bet365. 22-year-old Ioane has scored 23 tries in 26 Tests and he would be our pick of the two. Fiji-born Reece was only introduced to the fold this summer, scoring two tries in his first three Tests. The flying winger will be huge threat for Steve Hansen’s team.
Outside of the big two nations, punters might like the look of Pool A or Pool C. Russia might struggle in Pool A and Jacob Stockdale could benefit for Ireland. The Ulsterman is 11/1 with Black Type to be the 2019 Rugby World Cup top tryscorer. Tonga warmed up for their Pool C fixtures with a 92-7 defeat to the All Blacks which doesn’t bode well. England’s top tryscorers will be licking their lips at the prospect of facing the ‘Ikale Tahi. Jonny May (12/1) and Joe Cokanasiga (20/1) may be worth an each way bet.
Top Tryscorer Betting (odds correct on 16/9)
Rieko Ioane 15/2 Sevu Reece 15/2 Jacob Stockdale 11/1
Jonny May 12/1 Cheslin Kolbe 12/1 George North 20/1
Contributing sports columnist for JWBetting.com.