It has been a year absolutely packed with sport. From an all English Champions League Final to the Women's World Cup we have been spoilt. And it's still not over. September and October brings the Rugby World Cup 2019 which will take place in Japan.
Rugby World Cup Pools
Twenty teams will compete for the most coveted title in Rugby and it all starts on Friday 20th September. Host nation Japan will take on Russia in the opening game of the tournament. That is the first game from Pool A which is also home to Ireland, Scotland and Samoa. The winner of Pool A will play the runner-up of Pool B in the quarter-finals.
Pool B will see current world champions New Zealand play against, South Africa, Italy, Namibia, and Canada. The winner of Pool B will play the runner-up from Pool A in the quarter-finals. Though it's almost a foregone conclusion that the two teams to come out of this Pool will be New Zealand and South Africa. But in which order remains to be seen!
Pool C looks like quite a tough group. England, France, and Argentina will all battle it out for one of the two top places. That is provided that neither the USA nor Tonga throw up any surprises! Pool C winners will play the runners-up from Pool D.
Pool D is where Australia, Wales, Georgia, Fiji, and Uruguay will fight it out to progress to the next stage. The winners of Pool D will play the runners-up of Pool C in the next round.
All of the quarter-final games will take place on October 19th and 20th 2019. The Rugby World Cup 2019 Final will take place on Saturday, November 2nd in the International Stadium Yokohama in Yokohama City. So who will be in it?
There are all kinds of betting ‘specials' available including one that has a New Zealand V Ireland Final at odds of 6/1 with Paddy Power. There are a lot of assumptions in that prediction. Firstly Ireland would have to top Pool A. From there they would play South Africa (as the runner-up of Pool B). They would then have to beat two-time world champions, South Africa. Let that sink in for a minute!
If by some miracle that happened they would get to the Semi-finals. Here they would likely meet Australia or England/France. And they would have to beat them. That, of course, is only half the battle. New Zealand has, at least on paper, a slightly easier run to the final. Which is also why they are favourites to win the tournament outright!
Rugby World Cup Outright Winners Odds
The All Blacks are the outright favourites to win the tournament. Quel surprise! Every single bookmaker that I checked is offering 11/8 on New Zealand. But if you think they will flounder in Japan, then both England and South Africa are vying for the 2nd favourite position in the betting market. They can be backed at around 4/1 or 9/2. Only Ladbrokes offers more on England with odds of 5/1.
After that Ireland and Wales are both around 8/1 with Australia further out at 12/1. After that, we're starting to venture into the much longer odds with both Scotland and France on 33/1. That's a lot for the French who historically have done quite well in the World Cup. Though they have never won it, they have reached the final three times. That said, they were also playing better at the time than they are currently.
Alternative World Cup Betting Markets
If you don't think the outright market holds much value, there are other betting options.
Top Tournament Tryscorer – favourite for this is Rieko Ioane for the All Blacks. Very much the bright star of the current squad Ioane has scored 22 tries in his 24 Tests to date. And the further New Zealand go in the competition, the more chances he will get to fly over the try line. Odds on Ioane are 6/1.
England Jonny May is second in the betting on odds of 10/1. For some value look at Ireland's Keith Earls who is on odds of 22/1. He is Ireland's third-highest try scorer of all time and is the only player in the Top 10 still playing. Depending on how the earlier games go, Earls is certainly capable of racking up the points.
Tournament Top Point Scorer
This is where the kickers come into their own. England's Owen Farrell is top at odds of 7/2 with Paddy Power. However, I think Beauden Barrett at best odds of 17/2 is worth a closer look.
For Rugby union enthusiasts, this is a great year. The World Cup is the epitome of the sport and no matter who you follow, you're in for a treat.