After the worst storm in decades, Typhoon Hagibis, hit Japan and the 2019 Rugby World Cup, the group standings are now complete and eight teams have under a week to re-group and prepare for the quarter-finals. If you’re interested in the latest odds on who will win Rugby World Cup 2019, read on to find out all you need to know ahead of the knockout stages of this year’s tournament. New Zealand may be favourites to lift the Web Ellis Cup, but Japan’s Cherry Blossoms, or Brave Blossoms as they’re being affectionately known, have captured the hearts of many so far. Who will make it through to the semi-finals and who will fall at the first hurdle?
England v Australia
Despite the cancellation of their final group game against France, Eddie Jones’ Red Roses topped Pool C with three wins and three bonus points. England have looked untroubled thus far, with their bonus-point victory over Tonga, 38-point winning margin over the USA and the victory over Argentina confirming their progression. The real test comes in their quarter-final against the Wallabies, who will be looking to raise their game, having not performed to their usual standard in recent matches.
Australia finished as runners-up in Pool D, winning three of their four matches and losing to group winners Wales. The Wallabies picked up bonus points in each of their games, but will be under pressure to step up in the quarter-final – particularly as they haven’t beaten England in their last six meetings.
Prediction: England to win.
New Zealand v Ireland
New Zealand, too, found their final match against Italy cancelled, consigning the Azzurri to a third-place finish. The All Blacks have looked strong contenders throughout the World Cup, winning their opening game over South Africa by 10 points, before scoring 63 without reply over Canada and following up with a demolition of Namibia.
Ireland finished runners-up to the hosts in Pool A, having lost their encounter in Fukuroi, albeit by a seven-point margin. Following that shock defeat, the Irish have slowly built momentum, despite injuries mounting up against them. Reaching and losing six quarter-finals at the World Cup, Ireland have to be considered underdogs in this upcoming clash.
Prediction: New Zealand to win.
Wales v France
Wales have proven why they are one of the best rugby nations in the world. Winning all four of their pool games including a strong victory over the Australians, it’s difficult to see anything other than a win for the Red Dragons. Captain and most-capped player Alun Wyn Jones will be a key figure in their upcoming clash.
France may be the lowest ranked team left in the tournament after Japan beat Scotland, but they’re no pushovers. They finished second in Pool C, having won three of their games but only scored one bonus point. Their margins of victory have ranged from two points to 24 points. However, it depends on which French side turn up as to whether this match will be competitive or a complete white-wash – much like their Six Nations meeting against Wales earlier this year.
Prediction: Wales to win.
Japan v South Africa
The hosts are undisputedly the stars on-and-off the pitch this World Cup. With many ruling them out of progressing through to the knockout stages, the Brave Blossoms have flourished, causing shock after shock. Beating Ireland 19-12 and Scotland in their final game 28-21, Jamie Joseph’s side fear no-one. Don’t forget, they previously beat South Africa in the pool stage of 2015, causing a huge upset.
The Springboks came third in the 2015 World Cup and last lifted the Webb Ellis Cup in 2007, so will not only look to improve on that this time around, but inflict revenge on the side that stunned them at the last tournament. They may have lost their opening fixture, but have been dominant since and should have nothing to worry about.
Prediction: South Africa to win.