Format: The 2011 Rugby World Cup will be contested by twenty nations, twelve of which are there by rights after their performance at the last World Cup (where a top three group finish meant automatic qualification for this year’s event), while the other eight nations in New Zealand had to come through qualification. There are four groups of five teams set out, with the top two from each group going through to the quarter final knockout stage. The top four seeds for the draw (which took place back in 2008) are New Zealand, South Africa, Australia and Argentina which were based on the IRB World Rankings at the time. Each of those seeds were separated into different groups. Fortunately for England, who along with Wales, France and Ireland were in the group of seeds to get draw, they avoided the big three and were paired up with Argentina. France drew the short straw by landing in the group with host nation New Zealand, while Ireland pair up in Australia’s group and Wales will battle it out in South Africa’s group. Scotland, who came in the third seeding pot, landed in Argentina’s group along with England as well. So, the draw has been hovering around for some time, but now the 2011 Rugby World Cup is right on our doorstep. The final of the 2011 Rugby World Cup will be played on October 23rd in Eden Park, Auckland.
2011 Rugby World Cup Betting Outright Winner:
New Zealand: 4/6 at SportingBet
Australia: 4/1 at Victor Chandler
South Africa: 8/1 at SkyBet
France: 16/1 at Stan James
England: 18/1 at SportingBet
Wales: 80/1 at Paddy Power
Argentina: 125/1 at Bet365
Scotland: 175/1 at Victor Chandler
New Zealand Betting Preview
The All Blacks suddenly have raised a few eyebrows. For the wrong reasons. Going into the Tri Nations, they were firm favourites as always to score victory over South Africa and Australia. It all started well, but then something happened. New Zealand went to South Africa and were simply overpowered by the Springboks up front. It was a great display by South Africa, and showed some fragility in confidence in the All Blacks ranks. Normally you would expect such a world class side to bounce back, but against the odds, the Kiwis suffered a second consecutive loss, this time in Australia. The All Blacks do have the home advantage here, but are known for being big tournament chokers. How they haven’t dominated the World Cup history books is a mystery. Their key players are Richie McCaw and Dan Carter without any shadow of a doubt. They are still the team to beat, and they will get confidence boosting wins under their belt in the pool stage, making them a threat. Coach Graham Henry has picked a side with experience, but has left out Sitiveni Sivivatu, their prolific try scorer. That speaks volumes about the talent which is in their squad. Will we see a big bounce back from New Zealand, or has their confidence been hurt badly by the Tri Nations losses? New Zealand are suddenly a team under more pressure than they were ahead of the 2011 Rugby World Cup as host nation. Everyone expects the All Blacks, who are still the best team in the world, to deliver win after win after win. But they have picked up the label of chokers for a reason, and it has been because they fear failure so much. It is more of a mental thing than any question over their abilities. New Zealand are beatable, that is the upshot of what we have learned during the warm ups. Still, for most, actually producing a win against them is going to prove tough. Teams need to be physical and quick against New Zealand, to unsettle them from their game. South Africa simply bullied them, and Australia got right up in their faces and put more emphasis on attack than defence. The thing for New Zealand here, is using the pool matches in the right way, taking them one match at a time for team building confidence. Still will be the team to beat.
New Zealand Rugby World Cup Betting Value: Genuinely a title contender, shouldn’t be quite so short in the odds though.
Australia Betting Preview
Well the Wallabies are going to be our go-to team in Rugby World Cup betting, because when all things are weighed up, we think that they are the best outright value. Australia just won the Tri Nations, beating rivals New Zealand in the deciding match, a huge triumph for them. Australia simply pounded away until they got their break through, played without too much caution and looked a very good side. However, just as important was the overlooked fact that they also beat a full strength South Africa in Durban, something the All Blacks couldn’t do. That was a lot of craft and guile going on in that match, and Australia really had to mix it up front with the Springboks, which is not easy to do. Australia are not a complete side at the moment, they really don’t have a world class goal kicker, which may hurt them at some point in the tournament. Still, they are definitely a side which is starting to gel together the more games they get under their match, and they seem pretty adaptable and versatile. Other question marks? Perhaps the overall cohesion of the pack, but what Australia showed so well in the Tri Nations, is the ability to run from deep and create something out of nothing. It is such a naturally honed art, that it will sucker punch teams time and time again throughout the World Cup. We probably aren’t going to see the most convincing rugby being played Australia, but if they are able to maintain high intensity and simply play to their strengths, which is getting on the front foot (because they are beatable in defence through the middle). There’s very much a focus on mobility with the Australians, and it leads to some thrilling rugby. They are only going to get stronger.
Rugby World Cup Betting Value: Genuine chance, great price, top tip
South Africa Betting Preview
The Springboks pretty much sacrificed the Tri Nations for a shot at the World Cup. The defending champions sent a weak squad to face New Zealand and Australia away from home, but after suffering defeat with a full strength side to the Aussie back on home turf, they put in a barn storming performance to beat the All Blacks. This is an experienced South Africa side and they will menace a lot of teams with their sheer power. There are good threats from the back, but they are not as cohesive or solid as Australia or New Zealand at the moment. But their players should be fresher for having skipped out on Tri Nations matches, so they could pose a good threat. They are a great tournament side, and know how to expertly lock the ball in the forwards to stifle opponents out of the game. They are one of the most powerful packs and they will punish a lot of teams from set plays, especially line outs. Not a lot of people are going to give them too much of a chance of winning, but they should be in the semi finals and from then on, who knows. They have proven recently that they are able to mix it and compete with the best, and have experience in spades. The Springboks are ranked third in the world at the moment, and there should be some big games from them. The trouble about seeing them winning is pulling out two top performances against the best sides to be able to win.
Rugby World Cup Betting Value: Good price, fair representation of outside odds.
England Betting Preview
Martin Johnson’s men have genuinely played their way into contention for victory at the 2011 Rugby World Cup. Are they the complete article? No, but they are side still learning a lot about each other, and with the intense drive by Martin Johnson himself on the sidelines, England look likely to be the only home nation which can actually make an impact in the tournament. England will be based in Dunedin for the tournament, and England should have a fully fit squad to pick from. They have received news that captain Lewis Moody has recovered from his knee injury and will be ready for England’s opener against Argentina on September 10th. England have had concerns over a few players during their build up but Johnson is confident that everyone will be fit and raring to go. As far as their build up for the World Cup went, only a defeat against Wales in Cardiff blighted their copy book, but England appeared to be more interested in playing rugby than taking kicks at goal for easy penalties, so don’t read too much into it. The clinical finishing of England’s backs is a bit of a question mark for them, but Tuilagi really could be the big, not so secret weapon which they can unleash. England have tried to adopt more of an open style, more of a running game, because that is the direction to where the Southern Hemisphere has taken the game. England have had to become more mobile, and they are. Up front, England have a great versatility about their forwards, and should be able to add that extra dimension. How far England go, will completely depend on their creativity in the backs, which does look a little limited. They have injections of pace with Chris Ashton, Ben Foden and Tuilagi, but will the system allow them to make those telling runs? Tries are so important at the World Cup, only on rare occasions has the team scoring the least amount of tries actually won a match in the tournament. Do England have that killer punch? Most likely semi final opponents will be Australia.
England Rugby World Cup Betting Value: Great value for finalists in past two tournaments
France Betting Preview
France have moved up to the fourth best team in the world in the IRB rankings and will pose their own unique brand of threat at the 2011 Rugby World Cup. The French forwards are an absolute delight to watch when they are on top of the game, and when it is, they are most controlled, most technically gifted and mobile forward pack coming from the northern hemisphere. That old French flair is still there, in trying to create something from half chances deep into their own territory, but one question about them is their own mentality. They can often beat themselves, and lack confidence when going behind and really having to scrap and work hard for their spoils. They have only played two warm up matches, both back to back wins against Ireland, and they look fresh enough and determined enough to cause a lot of damage to teams. In a tough group with New Zealand, but assuming they get through in second place, it could set up a clash in the quarter finals against England, and naturally the French will be relishing that one. It could be a semi final place then against Australia in what would be an open, evenly contested game. You just never know with the French, as on their day they look absolutely brilliant, and have such a physically tough midfield. It is going to be a hard road to the final, and tough moments when character is called for, isn’t something that the French do too well at.
Rugby World Cup Betting Value: Rightly around par with England at the moment, have the flair, maybe not the mentality.
Canada, France, Japan, New Zealand, Tsonga
No great surprises as to who is expected to win this. The big crunch match in the game will come down to New Zealand v France, as that should be a shoot out for the top. You can see New Zealand scoring many more tries through the Pool matches than what France will, so the French are always going to be playing catch up. It may not be too bad of a thing as it could send them into a quarter final match with England. It could be worse. You will remember France beating New Zealand in the quarter finals of the 2007 World Cup, 20-18. They have faced each other three times since then (all in 2009), with the All Blacks winning all three. Canada will try and defend as much as they can, while we can expect plenty of sprightly running from Japan. However, the top two look pretty settled here.
Sept 9th: New Zealand v Tonga
Sept 10th: France v Japan
Sept 14th: Tonga v Canada
Sept 16th: New Zealand v Japan
Sept 18th: France v Canada
Sept 12th: Tonga v Japan
Sept 24th: New Zealand v France
Sept 27th: Canada v Japan
Oct 1st: France v Tonga
Oct 2nd: New Zealand v Canada
Group Winner Odds: New Zealand 1/8 at BetFred, France 13/2 at SportingBet
Argentina, England, Georgia, Romania, Scotland
Argentina, who finished third in the 2007 Rugby World Cup after really learning how to prove a point to the rest of the world, but don’t look anywhere near as sharp at the moment. They look a bit confused and disjointed and England will be happy enough to play them first before the Pumas get any kind of momentum behind them. England and Argentina met three times in 2009, with two wins for England and one for Argentina. We are a long way removed from those standards though, and England have only lost four matches against the Pumas, winning eleven. England are firm favourites to win the group therefore, so the crunch match here will be Argentina v Scotland. That should be a shoot out for second place. The Scots are trying to be a much more versatile and mobile side than ever before, but it is seriously still a work in progress. The Scots though have had their moments over the past twelve months, are perceived as getting tactically better, and have a full squad to pick from. Georgia and Romania are simply going to be battling it out for the wooden spoon one would think.
Sept 10th: Scotland v Romania
Sept 10th: Argentina v England
Sept 14th: Scotland v Georgia
Sept 17th: Argentina v Romania
Sept 18th: England v Georgia
Sept 24th: England v Romania
Sept 25th: Argentina v Scotland
Sept 28th: Georgia v Romania
Oct 1st: England v Scotland
Oct 2nd: Argentina v Georgia
Group Winner Odds: England 2/5 at Boylesports, Argentina 5/1 at Bet365, Scotland 5/1 at SportingBet
Australia, Ireland, Italy, Russia, United States
The Australians will be so happy with this draw at the moment. Drawing Ireland is usually never an easy thing, but the Wallabies will have been watching the demise of Ireland with some delight. The Irish lost all four of their warm up matches, two against France and one against both England and Scotland. Coach Declan Kidney wanted them playing as much as they could in warm ups, but it hasn’t gone well for confidence. The Irish camp are confident that the defeats will have served their purpose in making them a better side, but they really haven’t delivered and look disjointed. Only their controlled performance against England in the Six Nations has really stood out for them. Poor running lines, poor handling and decision making is hurting the Irish at the moment. The crunch match here should be Ireland v Italy, again a scrap for second place. Italy had the Irish on the ropes in the Six Nations, but oddly showed coach Nick Mallett the door ahead of the World Cup. Still not quite up to speed with the rest of the Six Nations side, but the gap isn’t too far away and they will gunning for Ireland in their final match if all goes to plan.
Sept 11th: Australia v Italy
Sept 11th: Ireland v USA
Sept 15th: Russia v USA
Sept 17th: Australia v Ireland
Sept 20th: Italy v Russia
Sept 23rd: Australia v USA
Sept 25th: Ireland v Russia
Sept 27th: Italy v USA
Oct 1st: Australia v Russia
Oct 2nd: Ireland v Italy
Group Winner Odds: Australia: 2/9 at Bet365, Ireland 4/1 at Boylesports
Fiji, Namibia, Samoa, South Africa, Wales
Wales start off against South Africa and seem pretty confident of getting a victory there. Let’s just assume that they don’t and therefore the Welsh will be under pressure in the Pool from the very start. The thing is with Wales, they tend to fail against big teams when they get taken out of the comfort zone of the Millennium Stadium. Wales faced South Africa twice last year, and both ended in very narrow defeats by the Springboks, however, overall, Wales have an awful record against South Africa. Out of 25 meetings, Wales have won just once, drawn once and lost on 23 occasions. Wales are fit and will be buoyed by beating England during their warm ups, but the fact is that they still have a very rocky defence. The Pool may not look all that competitive, but there could be a massive underdog danger coming from Fiji and Samoa. The conditions will be familiar to Fiji and their running game could hurt Wales. The Welsh will have not too fond memories of Fiji, who have knocked them out of World Cups before. Remember Samoa too scored a famous victory over Australia not too long ago. So there could be some drama in this group. The opening match for Wales is so crucial, but South Africa are naturally not going to be any kind of pushovers. It is the Springboks who are favourites to win the group, and there could well be a very close chance behind them for second place.
Sept 10th: Fiji v Namibia
Sept 11th: South Africa v Wales
Sept 14th: Samoa v Namibia
Sept 17th: South Africa v Fiji
Sept 18th: Wales v Samoa
Sept 22nd: South Africa v Namibia
Sept 25th: Fiji v Samoa
Sept 26th: Wales v Namibia
Sept 30th: South Africa v Samoa
Oct 2nd: Wales v Fiji
Group Winner Odds: South Africa 2/9 at Bet365, Wales 5/1 at Boylesports, Samoa 20/1 at SkyBet
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