Vulcans Predict: The 2019 Rugby World Cup

As we get closer and closer to the Rugby World Cup, the Sheffield Vulcans turned to one of our own to share their views on what could happen in the upcoming tournament. Winner of Vulcan of the Year 2018/2019, Daniel Giles, give us his predictions on each team and how they’ll perform in Japan. DISCLAIMER – He is Welsh 😉

Pool A

Ireland – Going into the Rugby World Cup (RWC) ranked number one in the world means that expectations are high. Whilst Ireland have never got past a quarter final of an RWC before, this is a relatively easy group for them so I would expect them to finish top of the pool with some sublime passes from Conor Murray and the absolute trucking power of Tadhg Furlong. I’ll be honest and say I think it’s an awful away kit, hopefully we don’t see it too much.
Prediction – Semi Finals. 

Scotland – Auld Scotland…It will be hard to beat their antics at the last RWC, where they were robbed of a place in the semi-final place thanks to an awful decision from Craig Joubert. This year I think they’ll contest with Japan to make it through the group stages but after that it is anyone’s guess. They truly are the most inconsistent team in the world. Hamish Watson will somehow smash through players who are much bigger than him but that is the only certainty in this RWC for Scotland.
Prediction – Quarter Finals.

Japan – In 2015, they won 3 matches and lost 1, and still did not make it through the group stages (Still bulls**t). This year it could really be the same scenario for the host country. It is between Scotland and Japan for that second place and depending on bonus points, it is going to be too close to call.
Prediction – Group Stage. 

Russia – Didn’t even get through due to their performance. They’re only involved because Romania and Spain threw handbags and got disqualified. Damage limitation for them.
Prediction – Group Stage

Samoa – You’ve got to feel sorry for them really. The most corrupt governing body in professional sport means they can’t get the resources or players to make an impact. A win against every team in their group apart from Ireland is a possibility but not expected.
Prediction – Group Stage

Pool B

New Zealand – Where do we begin? Best team in the world. South Africa will prove a tough match but with the rest of the pool, it will simply be who can get the most tries. The calibre of players is simply phenomenal: Barrett and Read should stand out. They may not have had the best year in terms of results, but this is New Zealand, the greatest international team of all time. Fully expect them to add another WC title to their already three.
Prediction – Winner. 

South Africa – South Africa really do look as though they are back at their best, with winning the Rugby Championship. They drew with New Zealand in New Zealand and so why can’t they smash them in Japan? They may be the best in-form but I personally think a semi-final is as far as they will get. They are the 6th most experienced team in the 2019 World Cup, lagging behind New Zealand, Australia, Ireland, England and Wales, and this will be their downfall.
Prediction – Semi Finals 

Italy – Everyone likes Italy because of their sheer commitment, but let’s be honest, they just haven’t got what it takes to beat tier 1 sides. They will beat Namibia and Canada for sure but there may be a hammering against South Africa and New Zealand. One thing is certain though, Sergio Parisse will show everyone why he is one of the greatest number 8’s in the modern game.
Prediction – Group Stage. 

Namibia – They will get smashed every game, let’s not kid ourselves. They have qualified for the last six world cups but never won a game. They average a score of 61-11 to the opposition at RWCs with a 143-0 loss to Australia in 2003. I’ve said enough.
Prediction – Group Stage

Canada – They made the quarter finals in 1991 and that is about it. The last WC they didn’t even win a game. They will beat Namibia so that is an improvement from 2015…I guess?
Prediction – Group Stage. 

Pool C

England – I hate to say this, but England aren’t an awful team. They have a game plan and stick to it, hoping to get points on the board early and it forces the opposition team to rethink. The one problem is that they never change their game plan even if it is not working, they kind of hope it will at some point. They won’t be adding another World Cup win to their name (apparently, they won it in 2003 from a drop goal or something, not much has been said on the issue) but they will produce some great performances.
Prediction – Semi Final

France – France are a great team…sometimes. The problem is their players make too many mistakes. It was shown against Wales in the Six Nations, they panic and capitulate and in their group that is something you cannot afford. I personally think leaving Bastareaud out of the squad is a silly mistake.
Prediction – Quarter-finals maybe.

Argentina – Such a tough team. They shouldn’t be, but they are. It is between England and Argentina to finish top of their group. They are such a fast and powerful team it is like watching Wales in their golden era of the 70’s, just with less sideburns and pot bellies.
Prediction – Quarter Final

USA – Do their population even know that there is a world cup going on? They have just created Major Rugby League which bodes well, they beat Scotland last year which was their first tier 1 scalping but with such a tough group it’s hard to see them getting out of it.
Prediction – Group Stage. 

Tonga – Huge men that smash everyone they play. They will be tough for everyone but it is such a hard group that they won’t do much else apart from break bones and egos.
Prediction – Group Stage

Group D

Australia – How can they have so many individual talents but not put it together as a team? Yes, they beat New Zealand but that’s it. In the last year they have been pretty bad, and this will continue into the 2019 World Cup. The only good thing they have done is be quick to respond to Folau’s abhorrent views. I know people will disagree with me on their performance but I’ll be proven right once this tournament is done.
Prediction – Quarter-Final. 

Wales – The best team to never win a Rugby World Cup. They lost the last two games against Ireland, but they went fourteen matches unbeaten. Australia are the only real threat to them in this group, but the rest are comfortable victories. They came close to the final in 2011 but Alain Rolland decided to become a hate figure for people in Wales when he gave one of the most controversial red cards in world cup history and Wales subsequently lost to France. This is Gatland’s last games as Wales coach and the Welsh players will want to do everything to repay what he has done for Welsh rugby. With big Wyn Jones anything is possible, ultimately though NZ in the final may be one step top far.
Prediction – Runners Up. 

Georgia – A tough team who we’ll hopefully see in the Six Nations very soon. Gorgodze’s MOTM performance against New Zealand in 2015 is the highlight of Georgian Rugby. Fiji will be a tough match for them but don’t expect anything special.
Prediction – Group Stage

Fiji – Absolute units, they won’t do much apart from smash teams around. At least we can thank them for bringing the best kit to the tournament.
Prediction – Group Stage. 

Uruguay – They are going to give it ago, but that’s it. Admirable but nothing comes of it, if they can beat Australia then its possible they may beat the SA v Japan story.
Prediction – Group Stage.

The 9th Rugby World Cup will be held in Japan from 20th September until 2nd November 2019. For more information about the tournament click here.