Can England Win The 2019 Rugby World Cup?
If five nations have arrived in Japan believing they can claim the biggest prize in rugby, then England will count themselves as firmly in the pack who can win the World Cup.
New Zealand kick off the tournament as favourites, but the 2019 crop of All Blacks have proved themselves to be mortal. Ireland may sit atop the world rankings but South Africa and Wales have also been at the summit this year.
With international rugby in a state of flux, Eddie Jones and his band of red roses have perhaps never had a better chance of adding to the 2003 Jonny Wilkinson-led triumph some 16 years ago.
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Which of the top nations will expose their vulnerabilities first?
Each of the favourites for the 2019 Rugby World Cup have demonstrated their vulnerabilities in the last 18 months. New Zealand could waltz to a third successive triumph if the top nations show any sign of crumbling and certainly England are up there among the most unpredictable.
On their day this refreshed English pack can beat anyone, but so too can their rivals for the Webb Ellis Cup. Much will depend on how the pools pan out with the winners and runners-up of England’s Group C almost certain to face either Wales or Australia in the quarter-finals. England will have to get through Pool C unscathed if they are to have a chance of progression. Bet UK are offering odds of 10/31 for England to win Pool C and advance to the next round without an issue.
England’s current state of health ahead of the World Cup
After the Six Nations, Eddie Jones claimed England had a mental issue which would need fixing if his team are to have any chance of going far in Japan this autumn. If this first World Cup to be held outside the globe’s rugby strongholds is one at which anything can happen, then the English are perhaps one of the best placed among the favourites to capitalise.
Jones knows enough about Japan to offer his squad some insight to adjust to the cultural landscape and the hot and humid conditions which will greet them. This is the nation in which the 59-year-old first learned his coaching trade before rising to the position of head honcho in the Land of the Rising Sun.
Captain Owen Farrell will be crucial to English hopes. The Saracens fly-half could be elevated to Wilkinson-esque levels should he lead his nation to World Cup glory. Heading the betting at 7/2 to be top point scorer at the tournament, Farrell pulls the strings behind a dynamic bunch of strong athletic forwards. Maro Itoje and the Vunipola brothers are an exciting watch and Manu Tuilagi and Joe Cokanasiga bring brute strength to the backline.
World Cups are not won with a handful of sparkling individuals though and Jones has spent long enough casting around for strength in depth and leadership on the pitch. A semi-final appearance is a minimum for this England side after failing to progress to the last four in each of the last three World Cups. England are currently odds on at 1/2 to reach the semi finals at the Rugby World Cup.
Assessing the potential threats in England’s World Cup pool
One of the international giants will leave Japan early in England’s “pool of death” Group C. England stand out in comparison to France and Argentina who, though looking impressive in the warm-up to the World Cup, have in reality weakened somewhat in the last couple of years.
The key match in Pool C may not be England versus France in the pair’s final group game. England really should have tied up top spot by beating Tonga, the USA and Argentina in their passage through the matches. Who will finish second will much depend on France against Argentina in Pool C’s opening fixture. As it stands, France edge out Argentina as 9/2 second favourites to win Pool C.
The Welsh should be in the way for England
There has been an unusual air of optimism blowing through the fields of leeks and daffodils this year. Wales reached the top of the rankings during 2019 courtesy of a 14-game unbeaten run which saw them beat all of the world’s best barring New Zealand.
Wales have been pooled with Fiji, Georgia and Australia in Group D with whoever finishes second almost certain to face England in the quarter-finals. The Aussies have been poor for some time now but they have sparked back to life in the build-up, most notably with a stunning victory over New Zealand in August.
But Wales are rightful favourites to top this pool and with Australia tending to struggle against stubborn defences, they’ll be up against one of the world’s best when they face the Welsh on September 29th. Wales are amongst the favourites ahead of the tournament, at 10/1 to win the Rugby World Cup.
Surely England will have to beat the All Blacks to win the World Cup
England’s hopes of winning the World Cup could rest on just the third match of the tournament. New Zealand versus South Africa on Sunday 21st September is rightly billed as the early decider in Pool A.
Back-to-back champions the All Blacks face a Springbok side buoyed by their recent Rugby Championship victory - a tournament in which New Zealand could only manage third.
Should England march into the semis then they will likely face whoever tops Pool A - a coin toss perhaps between New Zealand and South Africa - with the runners-up from that group probably facing either Ireland or Wales in the other semi-final.
That all means that the 2019 Rugby World Cup odds are pointing to England having to beat New Zealand to set themselves up with a potential all-British Isles final on November 2nd. And that’s a feat which the English haven’t managed since December 2012 with six straight defeats at the hands of the All Blacks. It won’t be easy and it won’t be pretty. But that’s rugby.
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*All odds from Bet UK’s online betting markets correct at the time of writing.
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