More than 22 years after that historic event, the Rugby World Cup lands in Japan, the country that will become the first Asian host in history. A ninth edition that will start with the match of the host country against Russia at the Ajinomoto Stadium in Tokyo. 20 countries from the five continents covered by World Rugby, the institution that governs rugby federations at international level, will take part in this ninth edition.
The remaining places have been awarded through the various qualifying processes for the tournament: USA, Uruguay, Canada, Russia, Fiji, Tonga and Samoa. The 20 countries are divided into four groups with five participants each. The top two finishers from each group advance to the quarter-finals, while the third place finisher earns a ticket to the Rugby World Cup 2023 in France.
Four top contenders for the Webb Ellis Cup
Ireland land in Japan as the top of the World Rugby rankings with 89.47 points, seven ahead of New Zealand, who were relegated from the top spot after 509 consecutive weeks at the top. The team coached by New Zealand’s Joe Schmidt, who will step down after this tournament, boasts the winningest squad in its history.
A team with a combination of experience and youth, with openside Jonathan Sexton as the big star, they have managed to beat the All Blacks in 2016 and 2018, although they have also had some disappointing results in the preparatory matches for the World Cup, especially with a painful defeat (57-15) against England.
The Irish will be looking to recapture their 2018 form (title and Six Nations Grand Slam) to progress at least beyond the quarter-finals, their ceiling in a Rugby World Cup. One step below New Zealand and Ireland is South Africa.
The Rugby World Cup kicks off this Friday 20 September. A tournament that has been held every four years since 1987, when the first major senior national team competition was born and although it is not being held in the UK, it looks like a great event for rugby betting in particular as the sport has an increasing following, even in countries such that have not made it to the World Cup…
A decisive match on which the Springboks’ future in the tournament will depend, as a defeat could see them draw Ireland in the quarter-finals. Wales and Australia close the group of contenders for the Webb Ellis Cup, although we could also add teams that could cause a surprise, such as England, France, Scotland or Argentina.
The Welsh, who boast one of the best defences in the world, and the Australians, runners-up at the 2015 World Cup, will meet in Pool D, along with Georgia, Fiji and Uruguay. Two teams who will be looking to spring a surprise in this ninth edition of the World Cup to dethrone the All Blacks who look more vulnerable than ever.
New Zealand, the favourites
The 2019 Rugby World Cup promises to be one of the most evenly matched in recent times, with as many as eight teams in with a real chance of lifting the Webb Ellis Cup in the final on Saturday 2 November in Yokohama. Despite this equity, New Zealand are the team to beat in this ninth edition.