The Rugby World Cup kicks off on Friday in Tokyo, with 19 teams including the Japanese hosts hoping to stop New Zealand from winning for the third time in a row and a fourth overall.
It’s difficult to look beyond the All Blacks, but the vagaries of the draw mean their most likely rivals South Africa are their opening opponents in the group phase. It may seem strange that the top two favourites play each other so early in the tournament, but the result of this is that they cannot meet again until the final. Given the likely hot playing conditions, we think the 100/30 on offer these two Southern Hemisphere giants meet in the final offers value.
The second betting opportunity we’ve spotted involves the tournament’s top try scorer. Often the winner of this bet depends on how many tries the top nations score against the minnows in the group stage.
With New Zealand and South Africa playing each other straight away they will have the opportunity to rest starters for the lesser teams later in the group.
England, on the other hand, start against Tonga and will be keen to blood their first choice team. Additionally, one of their wingers, Jack Nowell, is injured and unlikely to be fit for the first two games. England’s second match is against the USA, and at least one first choice winger will have to play. We’ll take a chance that’s Jonny May, and will bet on him being the tournament’s top try scorer.
Finally we’re going to take a punt on the player of the tournament. The recipient of this award is most likely to be a finalist and according to our analysis above thus probably means either a Kiwi or a Saffer.
That said, Wales are the current Six Nations Grand Slam champions and they have a reasonable draw to the semis providing they can beat Australia in the group stage. The bookies rate them largely a 10/1 shot for the crown. We think this is tight but if they were to win the event the likelihood of Alun Wyn Jones be named the man of the tournament is then high. The legendary lock is a 33/1 shot – we’ll take a chance.
New Zealand and South Africa to make the final, 1 pt, at 100/30, William Hill
England’s Jonny May to be top try scorer, 1 pt, at 14/1, Unibet
Alun Wyn Jones to be player of the tournament, 1 pt, at 33/1, Paddy Power
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