New Zealand Set to Retain Rugby World Cup Crown?

The Rugby World Cup is only a matter of weeks away now, and the anticipation is reaching boiling point as the host team England, need to take lessons from the Six Nations to win their group. 

England will host the tournament, with the first game on September as the hosts entertain Fiji. Stuart Lancaster’s men are one of the favourites to lift the trophy, but will have to overcome a tough pool before they can even consider knockout phase games against the likes of South Africa and New Zealand.

England vs Fiji, Twickenham, Friday September 18th 2015

The last World Cup was held in New Zealand back in 2011, with the Kiwis going on to lift the trophy on home soil with an 8-7 victory against France in the final.

The All Blacks look in formidable form at the moment, so is anyone capable of stopping them from defending their crown?

Outright Betting

New Zealand (11/8)

The reigning champions and world number one look on course to pick up their third World Cup title this year. They’ve got the perfect blend of youthful vigour and battle-ready experience amongst their ranks, as well as a rock solid pack and creative backs: all the ingredients for a winning recipe, then.

Their Pool C opponents should put up little resistance, although Argentina always seem to give the All Blacks a good game. After that, the likes of Tonga, Georgia and Namibia will be putting up the barricades.

Topping Pool C should be a breeze then, and that will set up a potential quarter-final encounter with either Ireland or France, which will be no walkover but the Kiwis should prevail comfortably nonetheless.

It’s a short price, but as we know the bookmakers very rarely get it wrong. So lump on New Zealand to retain their title as World Champions.

England (9/2)

Yes, you read that correctly: England are highly-fancied in some quarters to life the famous Webb Ellis Cup.

To do so, they will need to come through a tough looking Pool A, the ‘Group of Death’ if you will, against Australia, Wales, Fiji and Uruguay. Two teams go through, and it may well come down to points difference which will be something of a novelty, as it was during that epic Six Nations finale just a few months ago.

This England side has the talent and the organisation to come through the pool, but have they got the game to mix it with the ‘big boys’? That remains to be seen.

South Africa (5/1)

The Proteas could have hardly wished for an easier time in Pool B, with Japan, Samoa, Scotland and the USA as tasty a draw as it gets. Expect South Africa to run in big points wins and take the opportunity to rest players for the tougher tests to come in the knockout stages.

They have a brilliant World Cup heritage, having won this event twice in their history, and should they top the pool they will have a tough quarter-final against the runner up in Pool A (perm one from England, Australia or Wales) to come.

But even that won’t hold much fear for the South Africans, who are currently ranked number two in the world and have one of the most powerful packs in international rugby. They also boast the prodigious talents of Brian Habana in his World Cup swansong to call upon.

Top Try Scorer Betting

Julian Savea (New Zealand) – 9/2

This flying winger is the bookies favourite and, in truth, the smart money should we back New Zealand to go all the way in this tournament.

Savea has bagged 30 tries in just 33 caps for his country, including eight against the resolute defence of England alone. No wonder he has been labelled ‘the new Jonah Lomu’ for so long; and look at what that beast accomplished at the 1995 World Cup and beyond.

Playing on the wing in this New Zealand side must be an absolute joy, and with so many comfortable wins available in their pool surely a cavalcade of tries will follow.

Brian Habana (South Africa) – 12/1

With 57 tries in 107 internationals, and 10 in World Cup history, Brian Habana is one of the most deadly finishers in the game. Sure, some of the pace may have gone from those 32-year-old legs, but Habana still has the ability to cross the whitewash seemingly at will.

What will count against him is that he is likely to be rested for those ‘easy’ pool games in which he won’t be risked for fear of injury, and those can be the key matches to accumulate tries in this market.

Ben Smith (New Zealand) – 12/1

A relative newcomer to this New Zealand side, Smith has still bagged himself 16 tries in 38 appearances.

His versatility can often be his downfall bizarrely: Smith is more than capable of filling in at full back or wing, which may hinder his try-scoring opportunities.

Cornal Hendricks (South Africa) – 16/1

A bit of a curveball this tip, but one well worth sticking with. Hendricks has been a revelation in recent times for South Africa, notching 5 tries in 11 internationals, and that tally includes going over against the likes of Australia, New Zealand and Wales.

Even so, it is possible that the more conservative JP Pietersen will feature in the big games – he’s certainly been favoured in the warm-up matches anyway, and so Hendricks may have to put up with a watching brief should the Proteas stay loyal to Habana on the other flank.

Ma’a Nonu (New Zealand) – 16/1

Nonu is what you’d happily describe as an absolute unit, and plies his trade at either inside or outside centre.

His ability to break the line with his explosive running makes him a particular crowd favourite, and should stand him in good stead to cross the line against the likes of Georgia and Namibia, whose defensive lines may not be as resolute as they should be.

Nonu went over in the recent Rugby Championship win over Argentina, and with 27 tries in 95 international apps he certainly knows how to make his mark on the game.

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