The ninth instalment of the rugby union World Cup will come from Japan and will take place between the 20th September and 2nd November. Along with the competition being the first to take place from Asia, it is also the first time in the history of the sport that World Cup has taken place in a country that isn’t in the traditional heartland of the sport.
The first game of the competition will see Japan take on Russia at the Ajinomoto Stadium in Tokyo. The six-week tournament will pit the 20 best teams in world rugby against each other, and will undoubtedly a spectacle that all rugby fans are excited to see.
The competition, in general, continues to grow and grow every time that it is played. The first tournament took place in 1987 when it was held in Australia and New Zealand. The latter of the countries won the inaugural event as they beat France 29-9 in the final. Historical figure William Webb Ellis is the legend behind the name of the trophy that the winners receive. Ellis is widely regarded as the person to invent the sport when he picked up the ball during a game of football.
Rugby union’s World Cup is competed for every four years and is administrated by the sport’s international governing body; World Rugby. The first tournament was fought out between 16 teams before the competition grew in 1999 when 20 teams took part for the first time. As previously mentioned, the 2019 competition takes place in Japan, but following this year’s event, the tournament moves back to Europe, as France will host the competition in 2023.
Overall, four countries have won the prestigious tournament; with New Zealand, the most successful having won on three occasions. South Africa and Australia have won the trophy twice, while England has won the competition once. The Kiwis are the reigning champions as they beat Australia 34-17 in the 2015 final at Twickenham.
New Zealand- 1.40 with BetXChange
New Zealand will once again be the team to beat on the world stage. They have already captured the imagination of the Japanese, and that will likely soar when they take to the field for the first time. It will take a superhuman effort from a team to stop them from creating history and winning three World Cups on the bounce. However, Australia recently beat them in a warm-up game. However, any thoughts that they were dropping were quickly eradicated when they won the rematch a week later 36-0.
South Africa- 4.20 with BetXChange
South Africa is the side that has come the closest to beating New Zealand, and this happened in the previous World Cup. Their semi-final 20-18 defeat was an agonisingly close encounter. The Springboks looked to be in fine form ahead of their opener after winning both their previous warm-up games against Argentina. Time will tell whether they will be able to sustain their performance level, but they will be a side to watch.
England- 4.50 with BetXChange
The country that leads the European hopefuls is England. They were the last European side to win the World Cup. England’s performances in the Six Nations have both been way below par; with both competitions ending in defeat. However, Eddie Jones admitted after the Six Nations that he used the tournament as a way to test new tactics ahead of the World Cup. This means that the pressure will be on him for the competition and he will need to hit the ground running in a tough-looking Pool C, which also includes France and Argentina as genuine quarterfinal hopefuls. It is incredibly difficult to envisage England beating New Zealand or South Africa.