When Samoa beat Australia at the weekend, for some people their first thought was, ‘bad news for Wales’. Warren Gatland and Shaun Edwards will know why.
Other people didn’t realise the significance for the Welsh as they weren’t so familiar with the draw, so we thought we’d put together the various permutations and predicted route for the teams that people will be following.
Wales’ Rugby World Cup Fixtures
Sunday 11th September, South Africa v Wales, Wellington
Sunday 18th September, Wales v Samoa, Hamilton
Monday 26th September, Wales v Namibia, New Plymouth
Sunday 2nd October, Wales v Fiji, Hamilton
Wales have a tough draw. The World Champions are favourites to win the group, and although it’s not out of the question for Wales to beat South Africa, the Springboks are likely to win that opening match in Wellington.
Barring an upset, that will leave Wales needing victories over everyone else in their pool to qualify as the runner-up and progress to the quarter-finals. Given their form against Pacific Island sides in previous World Cups, the dull draw with Fiji last November, and the fact that Samoa have just beaten Australia, you wouldn’t put your mortgage on the Welsh emerging from the pool.
However, if Wales qualify as pool runners-up as expected, they’ll face the winner of Pool C, which contains Australia, Ireland, Italy, USA and Russia (if they win their group, then they’ll take on the runner-up of Pool C). On their day, the Welsh are capable of beating any of those sides, and although the Wallabies are the most likely opposition, Wales could feasibly end up in the semi-finals.
Of course, there are all sorts of permutations for who they are likely to face at this stage, but the form guide suggests that it is likely to be England or France. Then it’s probably New Zealand in the final, and the greatest Welsh achievement of all time in lifting the trophy?
How far do you think Wales will get in the Rugby World Cup? Take the poll below and we’ll all head to the bookies with the results.