The Rugby Union World Cup is fast approaching, and teams will be looking to finalise their plans with the upcoming clashes between European giants. New Zealand remains the outright favourites for the World Cup itself with BetXChange, but on Saturday we will see three of the next teams in the betting with England taking on Wales, and Ireland hosting Italy.
Ireland vs Italy
It has been a strenuous first half of the summer for Ireland as they look to be in the best possible condition before they travel east. They have released Rory Scannell and Ultan Dillane, and the duo are unlikely to be back in contention for consideration for the World Cup squad. Meanwhile, Jean Kleyn could be set to make his debut against the Italians, who should pose a very small threat to this Irish team. Joe Schmidt will be back in time for the match after leaving the squad after a family bereavement. However, Andy Farrell has been taking care of the squad, which means that there will be no problems as the former England coach will be taking over the Irish job after the World Cup.
Italy have also been stepping up their preparations for the World Cup over the last few weeks, but it is unlikely that they will even make it out of their group since all the other nations far outweigh the quality they have. We can’t see anything else, but a huge win for the Irish here and BetXChange punters should take advantage of the handicap markets to maximise returns.
England vs Wales
The match-up between the top two from the Six Nations last time out should be a thrilling encounter. Wales completed the Grand Slam in the recent competition, but no team has been able to win the World Cup and the Six Nations in the same calendar year since England in 2003. This just highlights the relevance that punters should hold the Six Nations in.
England’s only defeat over their last six matches came against the Welsh at the Millennium Stadium when they lost 21-13. This was followed by a comprehensive win over Italy, before a draw at Twickenham against Scotland. Meanwhile, the Welsh have been perfect over their past six and will present a quality test for England before flying to Japan.
Eddie Jones has reiterated throughout the build-up that the World Cup is the ultimate goal for England, and he doesn’t hold a warm-up game as a marker for his team’s progression. However, it’s hard to agree with that point as England will undoubtedly be looking to put down a statement win against the Welsh to show that they should be taken seriously at the World Cup. Wales could be Europe’s best bet of winning the World Cup, and it would be a fitting way to end the era of Warren Gatland as head coach. The match on Saturday is difficult to call, but it is imperative for Eddie Jones to win to ease the pressure ahead of the World Cup, but it will likely be a false dawn.