In a sporting calendar that featured the Cricket World Cup, Netball World Cup, and Women’s World Cup, we really have been spoiled for choice this year.
The level of entertainment and skill on display has been unrivalled. But hold your breath, here comes the Rugby World Cup.
Beginning on September 20th and hosted in Japan, there is plenty of expectation going around.
Hopeful nations such as England, South Africa, Ireland and Wales will all be looking to usurp the All Blacks.
And that’s without mentioning the defensive frailties, and injuries that have racked up in the last six months or so.
There’s also more than one dark horse. Japan, who kick-off their tournament against Russia, being one of them.
It’s going to be an intriguing, breathtaking, and thrilling month of rugby. Strap yourselves in and take a read of our 2019 Rugby World Cup predictions.
First things first…
Rugby World Cup Group Stage Predictions
Before we dive into the nitty-gritty of who we think will win the tournament, there’s plenty to delve into within the various groups.
Each pool has the potential to see a favourite breeze through to the latter stages of the tournament. But let’s be, truthful. There’ll be many wildcard teams sneaking their way through. Who knows how things will turn out?
Here are our pool predictions…
Pool A Predictions
Even with the hosts in the mix, Pool A looks like it’ll belong to the Irish.
Operating as the best team in the world last season, Ireland have proved their worth in every World Cup campaign in the last few decades.
And its normally in between poor domestic form (see subpar Six Nations campaign).
Indeed, this Autumn’s tournament will have come at the perfect time for Joe Schmidt and his men.
But second place? It’s anyone’s call. Japan and Scotland seem the frontrunners, but a few early wins for Samoa and the tables could be turned.
Personally, our 2019 Rugby World Cup predictions see more worth in punting on Japan making it through with Ireland.
The hosts are only three places below Scotland in the world rankings – and they’ve just won the Pacific Nations. You’ll only have to cast your mind back to the 2015 World Cup pool, where the two teams were only separated by two points.
What’s more, Scotland rarely do well away from home, which does not bode well at World Cups.
Players To Watch Out For In Pool A
Ireland fans have reasons to be cheerful with the return of Jonny Sexton.
The reigning World Rugby Player of the Year has been out injured for quite a long period. But this Autumn’s tournament comes at the right time for the Irishman’s return.
Alongside the likes of Jack Conan, who makes big gains with the ball in his hand, Ireland are expected to reach the latter stages of the World Cup.
Meanwhile, Scotland have Darcy Graham’s finishing to match. While the Scotsman may not have much in the physical department, his footwork is dazzling.
Against the likes of Wales and England, Graham was simply marvellous, attracting all sorts of attention on the wing.
Fans had this to say about Graham:
”He’s brilliant to watch, and a havoc for any team to deal with on the attack”.
The hosts answer to such a stand-out player is Kazuki Himeno. The young flanker has been identified as one of the future captains for Japan and operates as one of their main ball-carriers.
Himeno is also a pretty mean defender, which is the nicest thing you could say about Russia’s Tagir Gadzhiev.
Gadzheiv, a robust flanker, has spent years in martial art and kick-boxing, which is evident in his abrasive and ruthless style of defending. Expect attackers across the tournament to face the full brunt of his passionate tackles.
Last, but not least, is the Samoan Melani Matavao. The livewire scrum-half played a key role in securing Samoa’s place in this Autumn’s World Cup and is set to be an attacking threat.
Pool A Betting Tips
You’ll definitely want to place your bets on all the group A action.
The Irish are wagering as 1/4 odds-on favourites, while the hosts are tipped at a forecast of 61/14 – hardly appealing.
Scotlands chances of winning the group have been priced up at 16/5 in our pool A betting tips.
- New Zealand
- South Africa
Pool B Predictions
The group housing the reigning champions enters the conversation.
And it’s the kind of group that could change the course of the entire tournament weeks into the campaign.
Especially three matches in when back-to-back champions New Zealand face the 2019 Rugby Championship winners South Africa. Whoever wins will top the group. The semi-final opponents that face the group-toppers? England.
Considering that no team has won the World Cup after losing a game, having to drop into knock-out stages aren’t a position the All Blacks will want to find themselves in.
The other teams in the group will be able to take solace from the fact that the champions had a rocky warmup. They lost their Rugby Championship crown to South Africa and were defeated by the Aussies.
The SpringBoks will be ready to pounce should New Zealand slip up. But if all else fails, expect them to make it through as runners up in Pool B.
Should that be the case, as predicted in our 2019 Rugby World Cup, Italy will finish third. The Italians themselves should be able to see off Canada and Namibia – those two will have to battle it out to avoid occupying the last spot in the group.
Players To Watch Out For In Pool B
The All Blacks have a wealth of outstanding players within their squad. But out of the standout players (yep, there’s a few, like Beauden Barrett and Sevu Reece), Ardie Savea has to be the one that warrants a mention.
Three years after his debut, the attacker finally clinched a starting spot on last year’s European tour. Even at number eight, Savea was unplayable, especially in winning turnovers. The 25-year-old won six alone against the Sharks in Durban.
Unlike any other number seven in all of rugby, Savea is definitely the kind of player that could light up the World Cup.
Meanwhile, over in the SpringBok camp, despite being without their talisman Aphiwe Dyantyi, there are plenty of others capable of stepping up to take on the responsibility of winning games.
Cheswin Kolbe is one. Blessed with blistering pace, great vision, and the ability to penetrate opposition defences, the South African possesses attacking capabilities like no other.
Our 2019 Rugby World Cup predictions are expecting him to be in amongst the top try-scorers at the end of the tournament.
The three nations left might not be expected to get very far in the tournament, but they too possess players capable of causing upsets.
For Namibia, that player is Janco Venter. After having played in three pool games, the former Western Province forward has already started to showcase his attacking brilliance. Indeed, Venter is certainly a promising young prospect.
Another youngster not doing too badly is Canada’s Lucas Rumball. The 24-year-old back-row is notorious for his driving runs and will be an interesting one to keep an eye on.
Bringing up the rear in the group is Italy’s Jake Polledri. Given that the Italians have been looking for a player to give them that spark in the last few years, his inclusion in the squad ahead of this World Cup is a timely one.
Not only does Polledri average one tackler beaten every 10 minutes on the pitch, but has also completed 96% 122 tackles during 677 minutes of action last season.
How impressive is that?
Pool B Betting Tips
The pool B betting tips are just as intriguing.
With New Zealand projected as 3/10 favourites, and the SpringBok tipped as 11/5 underdogs, everything’s to play for.
Meanwhile, Canada have a whopping wager of 589/1 to topple if they are to make it past the group stages – a predicament not worth punting on.
Pool C Predictions
The so-called pool of death spices up the tournament. Especially so as it means that one of the rugby powerhouse countries will definitely be going home during the group stages.
Who will it be? England – by no means the finished article under Eddie Jones – looks to be in the safest position.
Jones had this to say about the Three Lions development:
”We have to grow, mistakes at World Cups cost you more than just points”.
France and Argentina, on the other hand, pose altogether different questions. Both teams will have to ensure their survival as early as two games into the tournament. And it’s even trickier to call since the last two head-to-head clashes between the two sides have seen the spoils shared.
However, here’s where things take a turn for Jacques Brunel’s men in our 2019 Rugby World Cup predictions.
France are on the decline. They were able to sweep aside teams Italy and Scotland. Meanwhile, Argentina were braving the World Cup heavy-hitters; their defeats were worthy given the calibre of the opposition teams.
Los Pumas by far come into the game as the more experienced side capable of taking second place. France may have to settle for much less.
Players To Watch Out For In Pool C
The supposed group of death has a contingent of world-class players emerging from the respective teams.
For England, one of the players happens to be Henry Slade. After recovering from a broken leg during the 2015 World Cup, the midfielder has become one of the most important players in the squad.
Floating in between the lines, making darting runs, and frustrating opposition players makes him an attacking jewel – the kind that the Three Lions will need in abundance.
Meanwhile, the Argentines have a player within their squad who’s just as impressive to watch: Emiliano Boffelli.
Bofelli was one of the players who didn’t make the cut for RWC 2015. But now the 24-year-old is a regular at full-back for his domestic club, making him all the more skilful.
Opposition teams will be wary of his abilities, with a special mention to his free-kick skills.
But aside from these two rugby giants, the three other teams also offer plenty of verve and entertainment.
For France – a team in freefall – Demba Bamba is the go-to man. A star for the youth squads, the 21-year—old now features as an explosive ball-carrier. Even at such a young age, the Frenchman is already showing signs that he will be a future star.
For the US and Tonga, the expectations are pretty much the same for either team in our 2019 Rugby World Cup predictions.
The star-spangled attack for the former team features Joe Taufete. Unlike any other player of his age, Taufete simply can’t stop scoring tries. His 20, from his first 22, tests is a world record for a front-rower. True, the US aren’t expected to make it very far in the competition. But with Taufete in the mix, it’ll be one helluva show.
Last but not least is Tonga’s James Faiva. The 25-year-old fly-half who won his first caps in the recent Pacific Nations Cup has impressed Totai Kefu with his form in Spain. His inclusion in the 2019 World Cup squad should help Tonga in avoiding being the basement team of the pool.
Pool C Betting Tips
England certainly leads the way in the pool C betting tips.
The Three Lions are wagering as 7/20 favourites to top the group. Whereas France are 9/2 outsiders, alongside Tonga and the USA.
Whoever finishes second place will be an interesting battle – both in qualification and in avoiding scraping the barrel.
Pool D Predictions
Pool D looks to be a far easier group to predict. Indeed, it’s pretty much all but guaranteed that Wales and Australia will finish first and second. But in which order, you ask?
Well, the Welsh are recently off the back of a 14-game winning run to match their Six Nations Grand Slam title.
Under Warren Gatland, they grind out results and make most of the creativity they have in the forward line. The only downside to this happening in the World Cup is that they’ll be without one of their most important players – Gareth Ascombe.
Yet even with that notable absence, they may still be able to gain the upper hand over the Aussies.
For all the Ashes glory, the same sense of victory and jubilation hasn’t translated to the rugby forefront. So much so that Australia have lost 12 of their last 18 games since November 2017.
True, they do possess moments of flare and attacking brilliance, but our 2019 Rugby World Cup predictions wager that defensive mishaps will be their poison.
The other two teams in the group pose as far more intriguing prospects than most people will expect.
Fiji, the flair team of any World Cup, could pose shock upsets, while Georgia are no pushovers themselves.
Players To Watch Out For In Pool D
The last of the pools provide us with an altogether more intriguing proposition.
Indeed, Wales are expected to top the standings, and the man tasked with acting as the main contributor is Dan Biggar.
Forced to step in after injury-hit Gareth Ascombe, Biggar has his chance to make a name for himself on the biggest sporting stage in the world.
The Wales number 10 performed well enough in the 2011 and 2015 proceedings. But an unplayable display from Ascombe saw Biggar demoted to understudy.
However, Gatland had this to say about his rise:
”Biggar is more than ready for the role. His inclusion will make things much Easier for the squad”.
As a master tactical kicker and commander of the skies, the Welshman will be a pivotal figure for Wales World Cup hopes.
Meanwhile, the Aussies have Isi Naisarani in their arsenal. The Fiji-born attacker is an expert tackler. However, he is also able to carry the ball up the field, and will happily trundle through defenders for it.
It’s the kind of player that our 2019 Rugby World Cup predictions are wagering will cause defensive havoc for teams across the tournament.
And the Georgian’s are boasting players that are just as talented. Their stand-out player is one Beka Gorgadze – an athletic number eight who is capable of powering down the flanks and elevating the attack.
The Fijians and the Uruguayans might not be expected to do as well as the other teams, but they too boast players worth watching.
The former have Semi Radradra up their sleeve. The scrum-half has great vision and thrives well in high-pressure situations. Yet the latter have a player that could not be more different: Santiago Arata.
Indeed, Arata is a player able to create something out of nothing. His creativity in the number nine position will be needed if Uruguay are to make progress this Autumn.
Pool D Betting Tips
The last of the four pools poses just as much thrill and anticipation on the betting forefront.
Wales are up there as 7/10 favourites, besting the Aussies who weigh in at odds of 11/10 in our pool D betting tips.
Both Georgia and Uruguay aren’t expected to make any progress, with both sets of wagers not appealing in any way, shape or form.
Fiji are 33/1 dark horse’ though and could be more threatening than perceived.
2019 Rugby World Cup Winner Predictions
This year’s World Cup is a particularly interesting one. The so-called giants have had some serious injury concerns that have rocked their title bids.
Meanwhile, there are plenty of dark horses around.
But we’ve taken a look at the top three teams in the running to clinch international glory in Japan this September.
So, without further ado…
New Zealand @ 13/10
The All Blacks experience in competing in two previous finals makes them favourites to do so again in our 2019 Rugby World Cup predictions.
Indeed, accolades galore have littered this New Zealand side down the years. They’ll be more than ready to defend their title against the so-called pretenders to the throne.
Yes, they aren’t the Invincibles anymore. None more so evident as the Welsh knocked them off top spot in the world rankings earlier this year.
There were plenty of writers who mentioned this. The Times quoted:
”The Invincibles show that they can be challenged, their throne is up for grabs”.
Unfortunately for opposing teams, Steve Hansen’s men have just about notched one up against all the other big teams.
Their experience, skill, and nous across the attacking and defensive line could be the difference between having to give up their reign and extending it.
South Africa @ 19/5
An exciting young SpringBok side will be relishing facing the reigning champions.
True, the last two matches haven’t gone well for South Africa against the Kiwis. But don’t expect South Africa to take a step back, with the opportunity to knock the confidence of the favourites early on in the tournament.
The mix of experience and youth coach Rassie Erasmus has on hand – featuring many overseas players – puts them in prime position to do so.
Indeed, history will tell you that no team has gone on to win the World Cup after claiming the Tri-Nations. But the history books were rewritten four years ago when Japan did the impossible.
There’s every chance that South Africa could do the same this year.
England @ 39/10
Eddie Jones’ men might not be the complete picture, but they seem to be improving on their form, month on month.
During the end of year internationals, they beat South Africa and Australia – two sides wagering as favourites coming into this Autumn’s tournament.
And that’s not all. England have shown good enough form throughout their warm-up games, proving that they blow away teams with pace, skill, and ruthless scoring.
It is a tough pool they find themselves in. But emerge through the group stages and our 2019 Rugby World Cup predictions foresee a slim chance that the Webb Ellis trophy might be coming home.