2019 Rugby World Cup Preview – Home Nations Chances
Preview – Home Nations Chances
It’s nearly time for the first kick of the 2019 Rugby World Cup on 20th September as the tournament heads east to Japan.
It’s a long way to head for the four ‘home nations’ teams so, how will travelling such a distance affect their chances? It’s certainly not just homesickness or jet lag that will play a factor in determining how they fair in the far east.
Join us now as we have an in-depth look at the current state of the sides, any injury issues, pre-tournament form and their all-important trophy lifting chances.
England 2019 Rugby World Cup Chances
The England team seem to have made it through all their for World Cup warm-up games relatively unscathed. Edie Jones can rest easy knowing that his 31 man selection are still mostly fighting fit, however, there are a few concerns he could lose sleepover.
Such as the fact that neither Jack Nowell nor Henry Slade has played a single minute of rugby this season between them. Plus team mate Mako Vunipola has just 17 minutes of playtime on the clock before boarding the plane to Japan.
There are a few other knocks and concerns amongst the 31 deep squad but Jones has said he’s confident all will be resolved before England’s first match on September 22nd.
Form wise, it was only the narrow defeat to Wales in Cardiff which marred an otherwise stellar World Cup run of matches. Not forgetting the record-breaking 57-15 defeat of a strong Ireland team.
In their coach, Eddie Jones certainly knows what’s required to secure the trophy after playing his part in South Africa’s 2007 World Cup triumph.
Chances: England are expected to progress from the group stage to line up a tasty encounter with Australia for a spot in the last four. After that, no one knows, but they are certainly amongst the favourite sides.
Ireland 2019 Rugby World Cup Chances
Fitness-wise, beyond the long-term injury to Dan Leavy, Ireland look to be in good shape after their warm-up matches. None of their major players look to have sustained any major issues and they should be close to full strength at kick-off come 22nd September against Scotland.
Despite that record defeat to England, Ireland has looked impressive during their other three World Cup warm-up matches. It makes things a little difficult to predict form wish heading into the tournament but they will hope that such an epic loss to the old foe will inspire them on to greater things in Japan.
Joe Schmidt is going to be stepping down from the help post-tournament so he’ll certainly be looking to go out in style by securing a tournament win with Ireland. The Kiwi has been at the helm for 5 years now and will be keen to make all those years of hard work culminate in something special on the pitch in Japan.
Chances: Not as fancied as they were around a year ago after a disappointing 6 nations earlier this year. However, not to be written off with their pure strength and determination.
Scotland 2019 Rugby World Cup Chances
Scotland have not been as fortunate in their warm-ups and look to have five potential injury issues as they head out to Japan. It’s made it pretty uncertain which starting lineup coach Gregor Townsend will go with for the Scots first game on 22nd September against Ireland.
It’s pretty hard to pin down Scotland’s current form to any degree, given the mixed bag of results from recent matches. The stinging 32-3 loss to France will still be fresh in the team’s mind and they will be hoping to use it as motivation going into the tournament.
Gregor Townsend is now secured as Scotland coach until 2021 which should help to focus minds as the team step out in Japan. Will his attack-minded style of play pay off on the big stage? We’ll be excited to find out.
Chances: Playing in a group featuring the plucky host nation and fearless Samoa alongside Ireland is a pretty tough gig. Scotland isn’t expected to make the last four but can never be totally written off.
Wales 2019 Rugby World Cup Chances
Out of the four home nations, it’s clear to see that Wales have been hardest hit by injuries going into the World Cup. Taulupe Faletau and Gareth Anscombe have been ruled out of the entire tournament which could have a serious impact on their chances of reaching the final.
Going into their warm-up matches, Wales were undefeated in 14 matches, setting a new record for the national team. However, that stunning form came to an abrupt end and they have struggled for consistency in their last few games.
This makes it hard to tie down their current form too tightly, and so, their World Cup homes seem to hinge on getting back to that formula that worked so well for so long. Their narrow victory over the in-form English in Cardiff can now be seen as far more important than it appeared even at the time.
It’s often said that Garreth Gatland is the greatest coach to have never reached or won the Rugby World Cup final. Is it going to finally be the time that this footnote is changed? After 12 years of managing the national side, Galand is set to part company with Wales after the tournament. This sets the stage perfectly for him to leave a glowing legacy by bagging the biggest prize in the sport.
Chances: They have certainly shown all the grit and determination in recent months required to get their mitts on Rugby’s biggest prize. With Gatland’s departure imminent, could this finally be their time? Despite the injuries, you’d be brave to bet against the Welsh in Japan.