Ranking The 5 Main Contenders For The Rugby World Cup In Japan
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Best in the world.
The 2018/19 rugby season may me coming to a close up north, but don’t worry – there’s plenty of action still to come this year with the small matter of the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.
20 teams from around the world will compete to be crowned the world’s very best. But let’s be realistic. Not all of them can realistically win it. In truth there are only really four or five contenders.
Sure there’ll be some surprises during the pool stages, and a team or two might slip into the last eight against the odds. But when it comes to going all the way, only a few nations possess the squad depth to do so.
Here are the five main contenders ranked as far as we’re concerned.
1. New Zealand
The back-to-back world champions are the overwhelming favourites once again and rightly so. But lets be clear – the current All Blacks team probably isn’t as good as the 2015 or 2011 teams. That aside Steve Hansen still has a pretty strong squad. Sure they’re lacking in some areas but these New Zealand lads were born to win. We’re expecting a final appearance at the very least.
Yes we know Wales won the Grand Slam at this year’s Six Nations, defeating England. But you can’t deny the fact that Eddie Jones’ side looked the most impressive throughout the tournament. And with the Sarries lads hitting form and the fact that for the first time since taking over Jones has nearly a full squad to pick from, the 2003 winners will be right up there in Japan. England have so much talent to choose from. If they play to their best and Jones gets his selections right they can beat anyone.
The reigning Six Nations Grand Slam champions are the masters at ‘cup rugby’. It’s not the prettiest thing to watch, but those damn Welsh are such a difficult side to break down. They have incredible patience and will force you to play their game – and usually there’s only one winner. There’s absolutely no doubt Gatland’s men will be a force in Japan.
Joe Schmidt’s side would have been a lot higher on this list at the start of the year but things can change so fast. A disappointing Six Nations has left a lot of people scratching their heads. We know when Ireland are at their very best they are more than capable of going on a run and winning the World Cup. The problem is we simply do not know what Ireland team will show up come Japan. Maybe that can be used to their advantage? The underdog story has worked for so many Irish teams in the past. That’s when they’re at their deadliest.
5. South Africa
A bit of an outside shot here, but under Rassie Erasmus the Boks have looked hugely impressive. Scrapping the overseas selection policy has worked a treat and Erasmus now has some serious talent to choose from. You just wonder do they have the depth to get a run going all the way to the final.