Rugby World Cup quarters are tough tests for surviving Home Nations
We now know the quarter-final line-up for the Rugby World Cup, which doesn’t contain host nation England but three of the remaining British Isles sides have all advanced.
Reigning champions New Zealand remain the ones to beat with Coral as firm 5/4 favourites to retain the title, and the All Blacks will not fear Six Nations also rans France in their last encounter.
Pool C was hardly difficult for the Kiwis; only fellow Southern Hemisphere outfit Argentina posed them problems in the group opener before routine wins over Namibia, Georgia and Tonga.
The Pumas, who are 33/1 outsiders to lift the Rugby World Cup, meanwhile, tackle Six Nations champions Ireland in the quarters. Joe Schmidt’s side topped Pool D and saw their odds in the outright market slashed into 7/1 (from 10/1), but victory over Les Bleus came at the cost of injuries to fly half Johnny Sexton plus front row pair Paul O’Connell and Peter O’Mahony, who has been ruled out of the tournament.
— Irish Rugby (@IrishRugby) October 12, 2015
If all of these key players fail to cover, then that may make Argentina worth a punt at 15/8 to reach the semis, with football legend Diego Maradona already inspiring their rugby union side. “He [Maradona] gave us a speech [after the Tonga game],” Pumas captain and hooker Agustin Creevy said.
“He said the whole of Argentina was dreaming with us, everyone is behind us, supporting us. That was the reason he was here – he wanted to be a part of it. I could never have imagined he would have been there with us. It was a beautiful surprise for all of us. He said if we reach the semi-finals he will be there. He has set us a very high goal.”
Pool A winners Australia are 5/2 second-favourites for the tournament and heavily odds-on at 1/8 to beat Scotland, who can count themselves fortunate to have reached the last eight after a second-half rally against Samoa. Vern Cotter’s team are 80/1 rank outsiders to win the Rugby World Cup, and yet another slow start against the Wallabies should prove terminal.
Wales (20/1), who lost at Twickenham to the Aussies yet still advanced the quarters, complete the line-up against Pool B toppers South Africa (5/1). A sensational Springbok resurgence hints at pain for Warren Gatland’s men, with that Welsh squad left weakened by injuries before a ball was kicked but battle-hardened by their plight.
The Rugby World Cup quarter-finals take place over the weekend of Saturday October 16th and Sunday October 17th.