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England captain Owen Farrell celebrates Ireland during the World Cup warm-up victory

New Zealand has resigned, Six Nations is rising, South Africa and Australia are ready to jump up and no home advantage: why this will be the most open Rugby World Cup ever

  • The Rugby World Cup 2019 starts on September 20 in Japan
  • New Zealand goes for their third consecutive title after 2015 and 2011 wins
  • But they face tough challenges from up to five other contenders
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The Rugby World Cup 2015 was not without drama, as England was knocked out of their own tournament at the pole stage, but in reality it was a sort of procession for New Zealand.

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After leaving four consecutive chokes in 2011, the All Blacks honored their billing as red-hot favorites and then about four years ago, with only South Africa in the semifinals coming in for a beat.

But this year the World Cup in Japan promises to be the closest fight ever. This is why…

England captain Owen Farrell celebrates Ireland during the World Cup warm-up victory

England captain Owen Farrell celebrates Ireland during the World Cup warm-up victory

NEW ZEALAND IS CLOSED

Yes, they are still the best team in the world. Yes, they are still justifiably favorites. And yes, they placed 92 points beyond Tonga in their last warm-up match. But this does not look like one of the big All Blacks sides, given the ridiculously high standards they have set themselves over the years.

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Consider this: since the last world championship, they have lost six times in 46 tests, aligned twice and won 38 with a win rate of 82.6. In the previous World Cup cycle, from 2011 to 2015, they only lost three tests and won 42 with a percentage of 89.4. It is not a huge step away, but it is undeniably a step away.

ALL BLACKS & # 39; RECORD

2011-15: P47 W42 D2 L3 W% 89.4

2015-19: P46 W38 D2 L6 W% 82.6

Six of the 2015 side, who won every test they played in 2013, stopped after the World Cup in England. Captain Richie McCaw, fly-half Dan Carter, centers Ma & # 39; a Nonu and Conrad Smith, prop Tony Woodcock and hooker Keven Mealamu were the legends to step aside. Although the assembly line with talent in New Zealand is unrivaled, it was almost impossible for the party not to get weaker with the loss of those six.

New Zealand captain Richie McCaw raises the trophy when winning the World Cup in 2015

New Zealand captain Richie McCaw raises the trophy when winning the World Cup in 2015

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New Zealand captain Richie McCaw raises the trophy when winning the World Cup in 2015

SIX NATIONS ON THE RISE

The 2015 World Cup was not only a grim World Cup for England, but for the entire Northern Hemisphere, as the four Rugby Championship games – New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and Argentina – closed the semifinals.

England demanded an improvement and got one, Eddie Jones, who won the Grand Slam in 2016 and succeeded it with a new Six Nations triumph in 2017. That in turn got an increase from Ireland and Wales, which respectively in 2018 and 2019 won.

In reality, there is little to choose between the three parties with home advantage, usually the deciding factor in the Six Nations. If New Zealand has resigned, as we have shown, Europe has three sides ready to challenge them.

Head coach Joe Schmidt from Ireland (left) talks to his Wales counterpart Warren Gatland

Head coach Joe Schmidt from Ireland (left) talks to his Wales counterpart Warren Gatland

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Head coach Joe Schmidt from Ireland (left) talks to his Wales counterpart Warren Gatland

SOUTH AFRICA AND AUSTRALIA READY TO POUNCE

Although we can increase the odds of England, Wales and Ireland with a Eurocentric view of rugby here, the two teams that have recently cracked in the armor of the All Blacks are lurking in the southern hemisphere.

Australia beat them 47-26 last month in the Rugby Championship, which was won by a South African party that got a draw in Wellington after beating the All Blacks at the same location a year ago.

If New Zealand has indeed resigned, South Africa may be best equipped to steal their crowns, while their arch-rivals Australia are able to blow them away on their day despite consistency issues.

Reece Hodge (center) celebrates scoring in Australia's victory over New Zealand last month

Reece Hodge (center) celebrates scoring in Australia's victory over New Zealand last month

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Reece Hodge (center) celebrates scoring in Australia's victory over New Zealand last month

NO HOME ADVANTAGE

As if six real contenders to throw in the mix are not enough to stimulate the appetite, the fact is that none of the above home benefits further increases the playing field. OK, England won its home advantage in 2015, but you couldn't choose a more neutral setting than Japan for the six heavyweights in the north and south to eliminate it. Bring it on.

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