The phony war is over and we are a matter of days away from the big event finally starting. All the international rugby for the past 2 years has all had an undercurrent of looking forward to now. Here is my preview.
What I’m going to do is go through each of the pools and give a prediction on how each team will do.
Australia England Wales Fiji Uruguay
The pool of death that has been covered every which way several times over. Is there much I can add? Probably not beyond my opinion of who if going to win it. But even so here is a quick overview. Three of the top six teams in the world are in the same group and joined by another from the top 10. Between them they are also the Rugby Championship and Pacific Nations Cup champions.
For this one it’s easiest to go bottom up. Uruguay lost 40-0 to Japan recently and are going to loss all their games with the only question being by how many. It’s going to be a lot and we could see the 100 point barrier broken a couple of times. Fiji who are the Pacific Nations Cup champions would be in with a good chance of making the quarter finals in another group. In this group though they are more likely to be king makers by picking up an unexpected win and should come 4th.
Quickly a disclaimer, I’m English and have been chosen as one of the 100 #RoseArmy. Yup I’m an England supporter and research has shown that supporters are bad at predicting their own teams results. So with that in mind here is how I think the 3 big teams will finish. Wales I think will be the ones missing out, they struggle against southern hemisphere teams and have not won against Australia for many years. On top of that they are playing England at Twickenham so I feel they will come up short. Australia have struggled against the English pack many times in the past and already there is a media war about the scrum. So I’m predicting that England will top the group and make it to the semifinal where as Australia will bow out in the quarters.
South Africa Samoa Japan Scotland USA
I went into this pool in detail in a piece for Rugby Radio called Hidden Pool of Death. Basically it’s South Africa plus one and with all the other teams having chance of being that plus one, they will rest players against the Boks making it even easier. The USA should be competitive but lose all their games. Japan are my dark horses for this competition and could cause the biggest shock by making it to the quarters. But they like Fiji should be more king makers than kings. With Scotland still struggling to turn performances into win and Samoa having sorted their off-field issues out the Islanders should come second. So Boks to the semis and Samoa the quarters.
New Zealand Argentina Tonga Georgia Namibia
Unlike the other two groups this one looks very predictable. The All Blacks are the outright favourite and should get to the final. Argentina have been disappointing recently with the exception being their win in South Africa. Even so I think they will have enough to come second in the group with Tonga being the main threat.
I’d like to see a compilation of all Georgia’s scrums from the Rugby World Cup produced and put on YouTube. I’m sure it would be great viewing and get plenty of views. But the lack of quality in the backs will mean that they will struggle.
Namibia like Uruguay are here for the experience only and will lose all their games. As points difference doesn’t look like being an issue though we shouldn’t see 100 being threatened.
France Ireland Italy Canada Romania
This is another group that is fairly predictable and comes down to which order France and Ireland will finish in. Ireland have recently dropped from second in the world to sixth but from the outside it looks like they have been playing within themselves. Many people think that France always turn up to Rugby World Cups. In previous cycles they have always shown form but in the last 4 years that’s been missing. So Ireland are my other finalists with France being another quarter final casualty.
Italy have been poor recently but should be too strong for wither Canada or Romania. Canada have concentrated on their 7s program and the olympics. This has been to the detriment of their 15s team. So I don’t think they will trouble Italy but should have enough to beat Romania. Romania have been let down with no warmup tournament such as the Pacific Nations Cup they arrive undercooked. So the final team that is here for the experience and little else.
And the winner?
So I’m predicting an All Blacks v Ireland final. Ireland have never beaten the All Blacks but then again no team has ever won back to back Rugby World Cups. So one record has to be broken and I think it will be the All Blacks winning the whole thing.
During the tournament I’ll be posting my predictions once a week before the mid-week games. Also my reviews after the Sunday games and I’ll also try another review on a Friday when there are mid-week games.
Join in the predicting fun for the Rugby World Cup by joining my SuperBru pool here.