The ninth edition of the Rugby World Cup takes place in Japan from the 20th of September 2019 to the 2nd of October. It is the first time since the inaugural tournament in New Zealand in 1987 that the rugby union’s most prized trophy will be contested in Asia. There are 20 nations that will be competing for the Webb Ellis Trophy and the teams have been drawn into 4 pools of 5, with the top 2 in each pool advancing to the quarter-finals. The competition will spread from Sapporo in the north to Kumamoto in the south and across 12 cities in total.
The Rugby World Cup is now considered to be the world’s third most-watched sporting event behind the Olympics and the Fifa World Cup and it was a brave decision made by the hierarchy to move the tournament away from the sport’s traditional heartlands.
It is a gamble which has every chance of paying off handsomely, with 30 million new players expected to take up the sport following the tournament. Capturing the buoyant mood on awarding the tournament to Japan, Brett Gosper, CEO of World Rugby, noted the tournament’s potential to be “a powerful game changer for sporting and social change in Asia.”
New Zealand go into the tournament as early favourites just ahead of the Springboks and then followed by England. The All Blacks will attempt to claim a record three wins in a row, having defeated Australia in 2015 and France in 2011. However a few other teams will be determined to have their say.
New Zealand (6/4): As ever, New Zealand enter the 2019 World Cup as strong favourites, having emerged victorious from the last two tournaments. With a history and heritage which transcends the sport, alongside a veritable conveyor belt of emerging rugby talent, many will see them as the team to beat in Japan.
However, it hasn’t been all sunshine for the All Blacks in the run-up to the RWC, having surrendered their grip on the Rugby Championship to South Africa and their world no.1 seeding to Ireland.
They are also far from free of selection headaches, with question marks over how to best accommodate the sublimely talented Richie Mounga and Beauden Barrett in the same 15. Furthermore, the likes of Ben Smith and Sonny Bill Williams are beginning to show their age, while superstar wing Rieko Ioane has been struggling for form.
South Africa (4/1): The Springboks have enjoyed an upturn in fortunes since Rassie Erasmus took the reins as head coach in 2018, and go into the campaign as one of the form teams having won a shortened Rugby Championship. Erasmus has helped the team rediscover some of their traditional strengths, combining a dominant forward line with a gifted selection of backs.
They are a sure-fire contender to lift the Webb Ellis Cup, facing an early acid test in the group stage against New Zealand which it would be no surprise to see them win.
Indeed, one of the greatest obstacles standing in South Africa’s way may not be a rival facing them on the pitch. The weight of expectation has got the better of players clad in green and gold before, having lost to Japan in the RWC 2015 – they will want to hit the ground running this time around.
England (4/1): Having endured two less than stellar campaigns on the spin, most recently crashing out as the hosts of the 2015 championship in the group stages, there is pressure on this England side to perform. However, they travel to Japan with a youthful squad full of strength and power, and with the scars of 2015 now healed, England have a real chance of achieving redemption.
One of their biggest strengths is likely to be their quality in depth, which was demonstrated when an experimental side defeated a full-strength Wales during the opening warmup fixtures. England look well placed to emerge from a tough group, which head coach Eddie Jones will know the importance of winning.
Wales (9/1): Wales head to Japan as Six Nations champions, and will want to make their presence felt in Warren Gatland’s final year as head coach. They enter the competition backed by rare levels of optimism.
One of Gatland’s greatest strerugby-world-cup.htmlngths is getting teams mentally and physically ready for the biggest tournaments, and he will undoubtedly relish this last journey with a team he has coached for more than a decade.
The Welsh game is built on a bedrock of uncompromising defence – no team entering the RWC 2019 will want to face such a difficult side to break down, and one with such a strong chance of emerging from Japan with the Webb Ellis Cup.
Other outside challengers include Ireland (10/1), two-time winners Australia (14/1) and three-time runners-up France (28/1). Whoever you fancy Sunbet has an incomparable betting experience in store for you.
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Whatever happens in Japan, it promises to be an entertaining and eventful tournament and Sunbet will be along for the ride from the first kick to the last tackle.
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