Bettorlogic’s Rugby World Cup 2015 Betting Preview
New Zealand are hot favourites to become the first nation to retain the trophy and the first to win three World Cups – they won the inaugural competition in 1987. Fellow Southern hemisphere giants Australia (1991 & 1999) and South Africa (1995 & 2007) also have a brace of World Cups while England’s win in 2003 was the only time a northern hemisphere side has lifted the Webb Ellis Cup.
This is the fifth successive World Cup with 20 teams. With elite talent unevenly split this creates a number of one-sided games in the group stages. The 20 nations are divided into four pools with the top-two in each group going through.
The odd placing of Wales in Band 3 for the draw (they are currently ranked fifth in the world) has made Pool A this year’s Group of Death as at least one of Wales, England or Australia will fail to reach the knockout stages. While topping Group A will be tough, it brings great rewards. The winner will face the runner-up of a weak looking Pool B in the quarter-final and they avoid Group C winners – almost certainly the All Blacks – until the final. Fiji and Uruguay are the unlucky teams to have been placed in this perilous pool.
As England is the official host of the competition, despite some games being played at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, they will have the advantage of facing both Wales and Australia at Twickenham. Australia come into the tournament aiming to become the first southern hemisphere ever to win the Tri-Nations/Rugby Championship and the World Cup in the same year. Since the 2003 final between the two sides, England have won four and lost four hosting Australia and they also won the quarter-final in France 2007.
Wales’ hopes have taken a serious dent with Leigh Halfpenny and Rhys Webb ruled out for the whole tournament. England’s record against their neighbours is much more impressive having won seven of nine meetings at Twickenham this century. We much prefer backing England to beat an injury stricken Wales at 3/1 than trusting Stuart Lancaster’s side to qualify at 6/1.
With little to choose between the two sides in their previous games at Twickenham, Australia look the value to top the group at 5/1.
South Africa should top Pool B. Scotland and Samoa both have a great chance of reaching the final eight and are likely to have a showdown in their final pool game to do so. Samoa’s price 3/1 to qualify compared to Scotland at 5/1 is worth considering, especially as Scotland will be recovering from a physical clash with South Africa just seven days prior. The USA and Japan look like archetypal also-rans.
Only six of the Scotland squad have World Cup experience and given this Samoa side pushed New Zealand close recently Stephen Betham’s side look big at 3/1 to reach the quarter-finals.
In Pool C, New Zealand should extend their winning streak at the World Cup to 11 games as their closest challengers are likely to be Argentina. The Pumas have lost all 19 matches against the All Blacks since 1987 including defeats by at least 15 points in their eight meetings since the start of the last World Cup. Argentina should qualify, however. They are much stronger than Tonga and Georgia while minnows Namibia are just making up numbers and are just 1.14 to progress to a last-eight clash against the winners of the tough to predict Pool A.
Julian Savea is the standout favourite for top New Zealand tryscorer but with fitness doubts over him and a sudden drop in his scoring rate recently it’s worth considering other options. The All Blacks have picked inexperienced but in-form wingers Waisake Naholo and Nehe Milner-Skudder and the latter is our selection at 5/1 for top New Zealand tryscorer. Both should start against minnows Namibia with Savea likely to be rested. In that game the World champions could post a cricket score.
Pool D is made up of four European sides and Canada. While Romania are extremely unlikely to make a dent on the group, Italy will be hoping to upset the apple cart and beat France or Ireland to a top-two berth but to do so they’ll have to vastly improve on their 2015 form. In the Six Nations they picked up just two points – a tight 22-19 win at Murrayfield. The Azzurri were thrashed hosting both France and Ireland as they scored just three points for the concession of 55. Ireland are worthy favourites for the Pool. They’ve won the last two Six Nations championships and are undefeated in their last four against France. This is the first meeting between the sides at a neutral venue since France shot out of the blocks in their World Cup quarter-final in Melbourne. The French led 27-0 at half-time before completing a resounding 43-21 victory. Topping Pool D comes with the additional bonus of a very winnable quarter-final against Argentina followed by a likely semi-final against the winners of Group A so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see either France or Ireland representing the northern hemisphere in the final.
At the other end of the group the to finish bottom market is of interest. Canada have lost 12 of their last 14 matches including a record 10 point margin defeat against rivals USA in August. They’ve been handed a difficult fixture list with just 11 days spanning their games against Italy, France and Romania and could well pick up the wooden spoon in Group D at 20/21.
We can’t see any reason to oppose the Kiwis in the draw though they’ve still not won a World Cup outside their homeland. They should move through their group with ease then their most likely route to victory would be knockout matches against France then Australia before a mouth-watering final against England at Twickenham.
Their tournament odds suggest they’ll be around 3/10 to progress / lift the trophy in any knockout against any of the other top-tier sides. We’d suggest that punters wanting to take them on attempt to pick the side that would beat them at 3/1 – we’d lean to the Wallabies – rather than take them on now. As such we’ve avoided making a call on the winner of the tournament and instead have looked at attempting to predict the finalists. Ireland have been backed heavily and they now look too short given their struggles in this tournament previously. At double the price we much prefer a New Zealand/France final than a Black and Green one.
Recommendation: New Zealand v France Final at 10/1
In the first round of matches in New Zealand 2011, the underdogs covered the spreads by a total of 126 points; an average of over 10 points per game. Just one of the seven previous World Cup finals was between two teams from the same hemisphere (South Africa v NZ in 1995).
All Northern hemisphere World Cup finals have featured exactly one Northern hemisphere side. Ireland have never progressed further than the quarter-finals.
All seven past World Cup winners have had a 100% record in the group phase. No team has won the WC after losing a group phase match.
The last two World Cup finals have been between sides that also faced each other in the group phase.
No team has retained the World Cup.