WITH each team having played two games apiece in this year’s Rugby World Cup, patterns are starting to emerge as to just who will make it through the group stages. The top two teams from each group will progress to the quarter-finals but within the groups there is still everything to play for. Joe Dexter has a look at each group and predicts who will qualify…

Group A – Australia and England

Group A contains some of the strongest teams in this year’s competition, but it was always going to boil down to the top three sides, England, Wales and Australia.

This really will be a close fight for the top two spots, but England and Australia seem to be the strongest two sides and should just make it through to the quarter-finals.

Wales have had a strong start to their World Cup but a plague of injuries will surely be their downfall as the competition progresses.

England have had a shaky start to the tournament and being hosts does put a lot of pressure on the Roses but with the home support behind they should make it through. They have a strong squad and can take their pick of their world class fly-half’s including, George Ford and Owen Farrell who have accumulated 35 points between them. Despite their narrow loss to Wales they must learn from their mistakes and work on staying focused.

Australia are the obvious team to go through after their flawless performances against Fiji and Uruguay, however they are yet to face a top flight team. The Wallabies are tied with South Africa and New Zealand for the most World Cup wins (2) and are on course to make it a third. Both sides play each other this coming Saturday and it really is a must win for both teams so it should make a thrilling encounter.

Group B – Scotland and South Africa

Luckily for both Scotland and South Africa they have had a very fortunate draw in their group. Samoa are the only team besides Scotland and South Africa to have reached the quarter-finals (1991 and 1995) however they have never progressed to the semi-finals and they are not on course to reach them any time soon.

Scotland are yet to lose in the competition and have accumulated the joint most amount of points in the competition (10) along with Ireland.

South Africa were shaken up by Japan in their first game of the competition as the Brave Blossoms chose to go for the try late in the game and won 32-34. The Springboks managed to shake off that loss as they thumped Samoa 46-6 the game after. The only other real test for both teams will be when they face each other on Saturday in Newcastle.

Group C – New Zealand and Argentina

There isn’t much to be said about New Zealand other than they always have and always will be contenders to win the World Cup. They haven’t shown any weakness as they have eased through their opening fixtures and with players such as Sam Cane and Conrad Smith it’s easy to see why.

The All Blacks will remain a threat and should breeze through their group as long as skipper, Richie McCaw can keep a cool head during the next few games after being yellow carded for only the third time in his 143 international matches despite being an increasingly controversial player.

Argentina currently sit in third behind the giants of Tonga, but they are only one point behind the All Blacks, and have faced their hardest opponents. The Pumas smashed Georgia 54-9 after their debut 26-16 loss to New Zealand and are set to not run into any more trouble as they face Tonga and Namibia in their last fixtures.

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Group D – Ireland and France

Ireland are the team that are carrying the most momentum with them into this World Cup after battling their way to winning the Six Nations earlier this year. Ireland’s number ten, Johnny Sexton is the man of the tournament so far as he can’t put a foot wrong. He’s managed to control the tempo of each game he plays in and with Ian Madigan as an experienced replacement, having achieved 20 points already this tournament, Ireland don’t lack in players that can get on the score sheet.

They are yet to let their opponents score over ten points in a game but they are yet to face their toughest group opponents, Italy and France.

France have always been a strong side and have had some of the words best players amongst their ranks (noticeably Sebastien Chabal, Serge Betsen and Imanol Harinordoquy) but are yet to have been crowned champions after finishing as runners up three times. They have sailed through their first two matches against Italy (32-10) and Romania (38-11) and are well on course to make it to the quarter finals and make it into the history books.

By: Joseph Dexter
@JosephDexter94

 

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