We are just weeks away from the beginning of the World Cup. 20 teams vying to become Champions and lift the Webb Ellis Cup. To date, only 4 nations (New Zealand x3, Australia x2, South Africa x2 and England) have won the tournament… Will we be seeing a 5th nation added to the list this year?
Last week, I posted an article as part of my “Journey to RWC2019” series where I tried to predict how the pool stages would go, along with 2 of my close friends, Phil and Gez. Today, we are back looking at the knockouts and trying to ultimately pick who will lift the Webb Ellis Cup on 2nd November.
Journey to RWC2019 series:
- Predicting the Wales squad
- Predicting the Scotland squad
- Predicting the Italy squad
- Predicting the Ireland squad
- Predicting the Fiji squad
- Predicting the England squad
- Predicting the USA squad
- Predicting the Argentina squad
- Predicting the South Africa squad
- Predicting the New Zealand squad
- Predicting the Australia squad
- Pool Stage Predictions
As a reminder, to get this out when I have, Phil and Gez did have to make their picks before most nations had finalised their squads, which could have impacted their selections.
How do you see the knockouts going?
England’s reward for topping Pool C is a match against Australia. While both of these teams can be great or poor, I think that England are that bit more consistent, with Owen Farrell’s boot likely to be the difference. Meanwhile, South Africa’s victory over New Zealand in Pool B will see them take on Scotland. Coming in off the back of Super Rugby and the Rugby Championship, I think that the Springboks will be too strong for the Scots, who will see themselves knocked out by a South African for the second World Cup running (too soon?).
On the other side of the draw, Ireland’s topping of Pool A leaves them the hard task of taking on the All Blacks. A year ago, I would have had the Irish winning this, but they have dropped off since and I think that the All Blacks will be getting on a roll by now. Finally, Wales take on France in possibly the hardest match to predict in this round. If Les Bleus can get things together like they often do in World Cup knockouts, they will be a tough opponent, but I think that Wales have the defensive solidity and attacking quality to get the win.
My predictions: England beat Australia, South Africa beat Scotland, New Zealand beat Ireland, Wales beat France
Phil’s predictions: England beat Australia, New Zealand beat Scotland, South Africa beat Ireland, Wales beat France
Gez’s predictions: Wales beat England, South Africa beat Scotland, New Zealand beat Ireland, Australia beat Argentina
After beating Australia, England will face much more of a challenge in the semis against South Africa. This will be the point where England’s weaknesses will be fully exploited by a team on the up, while England fans will be left thinking what could have happened if Eddie Jones had selected the players on form.
Elsewhere, Wales will fight hard against New Zealand and while I think that their defence will make it hard for the All Blacks, I think that the New Zealand attack will still be able to cross the line a couple of times to put up a score the Welsh will be unable to match.
My predictions: South Africa beat England, New Zealand beat Wales
Phil’s predictions: New Zealand beat England, South Africa beat Wales
Gez’s predictions: South Africa beat Wales, New Zealand beat Australia
One of the great rugby rivalries is renewed in the third place playoff, as Wales and England face off in an attempt to finish the tournament on a high. These teams will know each other so well, it will be a close affair, where I think Wales’ defence and discipline will see them take the bronze.
My prediction: Wales beat England
Phil’s prediction: Wales beat England
Gez’s prediction: Wales beat Australia
The showpiece event sees the winners of the last 3 tournaments face off for the second time in this tournament. South Africa may have got the win in the pool stages, but I think that the All Blacks will have grown into the tournament by this point and their non-stop culture of success (they were ranked #1 in the world for over 500 consecutive weeks) will see the “three-peat” happen, bringing a successful end to Steve Hansen’s tenure.
My prediction: New Zealand beat South Africa
Phil’s prediction: New Zealand beat South Africa
Gez’s prediction: New Zealand beat South Africa
As we get close to RWC2019, I will be running a fantasy rugby league on the rugby magazine website, and you are all invited to join! Simply follow this link and use the Unique Token: b6c1e40d48e6