Rugby World Cup 2019: Who are the real contenders?

Rugby World Cup 2019
New Zealand's flanker and captain Richie McCaw (C) lifts the Webb Ellis Cup during the final match of the 2015 Rugby World Cup between New Zealand and Australia at Twickenham stadium, south west London, on October 31, 2015. AFP PHOTO / GLYN KIRK RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE, NO USE IN LIVE MATCH TRACKING SERVICES, TO BE USED AS NON-SEQUENTIAL STILLS (Photo by GLYN KIRK / AFP) (Photo credit should read GLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images)

With Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan fast approaching, we have to wonder who the real contenders are.

The All Blacks are overwhelming favourites. Are there any real challengers to them or will it be a third straight Rugby World Cup win for the New Zealanders?

Rugby World Cup 2019

We take a look at who could possibly mount a challenge to the All Blacks and spring a major surprise. With so many online casinos like the PlaySugarHouse website and oddsmakers today, betting on rugby is at an all-time high and keeping your eye on an outsider might bring you some great returns.

Australia

The Wallabies never disappoint at a Rugby World Cup. In 2019 though, they are very unsettled. Their year in 2018 probably returned the worst result in their international history. They played thirteen games, losing nine and winning four.

To add to their rocky lead up to the 2019 edition of the Rugby World Cup, they have to deal with the fallout of the Israel Folau social media incident. Head Coach Michael Cheika has said he will not select Folau for his Wallabies team and some senior players have stated that they will not play if Folau is selected. Others have stated that if Folau is fired, they might as well be fired too as they have the same religious beliefs.

That being said, negative events can sometimes inspire a team. Although unlikely, could this be the case with Australia?

England

The appointment of Eddie Jones brought much hope to England fans. He also added former All Black coach John Mitchell to his backroom staff as defence coach. In the first calendar year (2018) of Jones’ tenure, the return was not exactly what the England faithful was hoping for. Six wins and six losses in twelve games. In 2019 thus far, the return has been slightly more encouraging. In five games, they have won three, lost one and drawn one.

This is not the type of form that would make England hot favourites to challenge for the Rugby World Cup 2019 title. What they do have up their sleeve is Jones’ innovation and the astute coaching mind of Mitchell.

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Ireland

In 2018, the rugby world was raving at the form the Ireland team. Talks of a real challenge for the World Cup could be heard anywhere. Some were touting the Ireland coach, Joe Schmidt, as a favourite to take over from Steve Hansen as All Black coach.

Not winning the Six Nations does seem to have tempered the optimism coming out of Dublin. They should still not be written off just yet. If the likes of Jonny Sexton and Conor Murray are in form and working behind a solid pack, they could still be a surprise package at the World Cup.

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South Africa

The Springboks under new head coach Rassie Erasmus produced a lot more positive play than that produced under the previous coach, Alister Coetzee. The results were still not at the level expected by a very critical and disillusioned South African fan base. Fourteen games, producing just seven wins and seven losses.

What is notable was that one of those wins was against the All Blacks in New Zealand. One of the losses was against the very same All Black team in Pretoria, where a lack of experience and poor decision making saw them butcher a significant lead and lose the game.

Erasmus is another innovative coach with an exceptional eye for detail. The Springboks are not out of the equation for the Rugby World Cup 2019. They do have the players, but consistency and intensity is a concern. Their defensive system off first phase play relies on their wingers shooting up in field to make a spot tackle to kill the attack. When the tackle is made, the system works wonderfully. If the tackle is missed, they are exposed out wide.

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Wales

Wales seem to have taken over the next best team in the world mantel from Ireland. There is merit in this as they are currently second on World Rugby’s international rankings. In 2018, they played twelve games. They won ten and lost two.

In 2019, Wales won the Six Nations tournament, going five games unbeaten. They also took the prized  Grand Slam, beating all the other sides. Beating all the other ‘Home Nations’ of England, Ireland and Scotland, they also lay claim to the title of the ‘Triple Crown’.

In Warren Gatland, they have a coach who is experienced both with this team as well as with the British and Irish Lions. Wales cannot be disregarded as a Rugby World Cup winner, but to do that they do something they have only done once before.

1905 saw Wales beat New Zealand in the very first Test between the two teams. Will the 2019 Rugby World Cup final be the next time that the Welsh dragon slays the All Blacks?
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The Last Word on Rugby Rugby World Cup 2019 conclusion

There are very credible contenders for the Rugby World Cup 2019 title. Aside from Wales, all the others have faced issues and are slightly unsettled.

It is difficult to look past the All Blacks to retain the title for a third tournament in a row.

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