The wait is finally over! The Rugby World Cup kicks off on Friday night as England host Fiji.
All roads lead to Twickenham, where the Final will be played on October 31st.
We hope our pool-by-pool betting guide, constructed by our man Calum Chinchen, can provide you with some winners along the way.
Remember to keep checking out the MCB WordPress site (myclubbetting.wordpress.com) for regular betting previews on a variety of sports.
All prices quoted are an average from across the industry… we wish you the best of luck!
Hosts England have looked more than efficient in their warm-up games and were particularly impressive in victories over France and Ireland. Anthony Watson is England’s key man at the moment and the speedy Bath fullback will be hoping to carry his Aviva Premiership and World Cup warm-up form into the tournament itself.
Home advantage will be massive for Stuart Lancaster’s men, who are second favourites to lift the famous Webb Ellis cup. We fancy them to advance as from Pool A as winners.
Australia come into this tournament after winning the 2015 Rugby Championship, a tournament involving themselves, Argentina, New Zealand and South Africa. The Wallabies looked terrific throughout the tournament, beating tournament favourites New Zealand along the way and finishing with a 100% record. They haven’t got the best World Cup record of late and they have not reached a final since losing to England in 2003. That said, they will have no difficulty advancing from Pool A and we fancy them to finish second behind the hosts.
Wales are not in the greatest form and we can see them struggling throughout the tournament. Key players Leigh Halfpenny and Rhys Webb have been ruled out of the tournament, with coach Warren Gatland cursing his luck after both were injured in warm-up games.
Wales will find it very difficult to get vital results against both England and Australia, thus we don’t see them finishing in the top two.
Uruguay and Fiji are the other two teams in this pool and we see the latter possibly causing the so-called ‘big boys’ a little difficulty along the way.
BEST BET: ENGLAND TO WIN POOL A @ 2.10
South Africa are the strongest team in Pool B, and by a considerable distance. The Springboks had an extremely tough time in the Rugby Championship over the summer, losing all three games. We just feel the lack of strength within the group, coupled with the presence of experienced stars Bryan Habana, Jean de Villiers and Schalk Burger will be more than enough to see South Africa top the pool and advance to the next stage with a 100% record.
Scotland won’t be too downhearted by being drawn in this pool and it looks as though it will be a straight battle between themselves and Samoa for second place. The clash between the two sides at St James Park comes in the final round of fixtures, and looks as though it will be crucial for both nations. We think it will be tougher for Vern Cotter’s men than most people expect, but fancy influential captain Greg Laidlaw and experienced hooker Ross Ford to guide the Scots to the next round at the expense of their Samoan counterparts.
We can’t see Japan or the USA troubling any of the other three teams in Pool B, and we can only see the two sides gaining points when they play each other. We see Samoa comfortably finishing in third position here.
BEST BET: SCOTLAND TO QUALIFY @ 1.67
There is absolutely no doubt who is going to come out on top of Pool C. New Zealand are the clear tournament favourites and we can see them winning every match in the pool with real ease.
The All Blacks suffered a shock defeat to rivals Australia in the Rugby Championship, which cost them the trophy. However, we don’t see that having a negative effect on them during this campaign.
Experienced flanker and skipper Richie McCaw will be looking to lift the Webb Ellis Cup, in what will be his last World Cup. Iconic fly-half Dan Carter will also be participating in his final World Cup campaign and will be looking to make amends after only playing two games of the 2011 tournament which the All Blacks captured.
Argentina would have been delighted with the draw and will more than fancy their chance of advancing. Although they will accept that the All Blacks will be too strong for them, they will also feel more that confident of beating the other three sides in the group and qualifying behind New Zealand.
Tonga will no doubt give Argentina competition for the converted second place in Pool C. Captain Nili Latu will be vital for the Tongans. The former Green Rockets star recently signed for the Newcastle Falcons and is equally capable when playing on the flank or at number 8. We see Tonga running Argentina close, but we just can’t see them doing enough to qualify.
The other two sides in the group are Georgia and Namibia, and we can see the presence of two minnows alongside the phenomenal All Blacks leading to a massive number of tries within Pool C.
BEST BET: OVER 76.5 TRIES IN POOL C @ 1.90
Ireland are favourites to win Pool D. Although they have never advanced further than the Quarter Finals in a World Cup, they do come into this tournament in good form after winning this year’s Six Nations title. Speedy winger Simon Zebo will be key for the Irish, along with fly half Jonny Sexton who has recently joined Leinster after a successful two years at Racing Metro.
France aren’t in the greatest form, but they always seem to have the capability to pull a rabbit out of the hat on the World Cup stage, as they showed in 2011 when they reached the final.
However, there have been rumours of disharmony within the camp and reports suggest that they aren’t happy with the facilities or surroundings at their Croydon base (now there’s a shock!). We fancy them to advance, but see them finishing second in Pool D, behind this Irish.
Italy area vastly improved side, and will cause both France and Ireland difficulty. Sergio Parisse is an icon amongst Italian rugby fans and will once again captain his nation at the tournament. The instrumental Stade Francais talisman is widely regarded as one of the greatest number 8’s in modern rugby, and will be vital for his side as always. That said, we just can’t see them doing enough to get a victory against the big two in the pool and can’t see them advancing to the next stage.
Canada and Romania make up the numbers in Pool D and we can’t see them causing any upsets if we are honest.
BEST BET: IRELAND/FRANCE (STRAIGHT FORECAST) @ 1.95
WHO WILL WIN?
We fancy the hosts England to make it all the way to the final, where they will more than likely be facing an incredibly strong New Zealand side.
We just can’t see the All Blacks being stopped and think they will cruise to World Cup glory on October 31st at Twickenham.
OUR WINNERS: NEW ZEALAND @ 2.30
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