Rugby World Cup 2019 Warm-ups: Predictions

Malcolm Marx

The Rugby World Cup is just TWO weeks away! There are lots of big teams in action this weekend, although frankly most of these matches look incredibly one-sided.

The Ireland v Wales rematch in Dublin looks like the most interesting fixture, and it’s a tough one to call.

Here are my predictions for the final batch of warm-up matches this weekend.

Japan v South Africa
Rassie Erasmus has picked a very strong Springbok team as they arrive in Japan looking to make a mark immediately. It’s testament to the depth that South Africa have developed that the bench also looks incredibly strong and there will be no repeat of the Brighton Miracle here.

South Africa by 28

Scotland v Georgia
Having put 44 points on Georgia in Tbilisi, you’d expect a comfortable home win here. There are a few different personnel involved, particularly with Adam Hastings at fly-half rather than Finn Russell, but this should still be a big win at Murrayfield.

Scotland by 33

England v Italy
Much like the Springboks, England have some incredible depth in their squad, with every lineup in these RWC warm-ups looking formidable. Italy are resting some of their big names, and I fear for them in this exhibition match in Newcastle.

England could well run riot with incredible pace in the back three featuring Ruaridh McConnochie (hopefully), Jonny May and Anthony Watson. In the Six Nations, Italy often play a damage-limitation gameplan against the only side they’ve never beaten, but in this ‘meaningless’ warm up with a second-string line-up for the Azzurri, it could be a very open game that will play into England’s hands.

As usual, England have a huge mobile pack, with Billy Vunipola starting his 4th game in a row for reasons that only Eddie Jones can fathom. Why not put Mark Wilson at 8, given that he’s the only cover in the squad, and give Tom Curry and Sam Underhill another run-out? I’m not too sure how much we’ll learn this evening, and I suspect it’s going to be incredibly one-sided.

England by 43

New Zealand v Tonga
This is a very strong All Blacks lineup, although there isn’t really a weak one, and this is likely to be a long game for the Tongans who were beaten by Fiji last weekend.

New Zealand by 61

Australia v Samoa
David Pocock plays his first game for several months and Bernard Foley is at fly-half for Australia, and this should be another comfortable home win. A few familiar names line up for Samoa, such as Tim Nanai-Williams and Jack Lam, but the gulf between Tier 1 and Tier 2 nations remains sizeable.

Australia by 37

Ireland v Wales
This is the first tricky pick of the round, with both sides fielding almost first-choice lineups. There is more pressure on Ireland as the home team, and particularly as they continue to persuade people that the Twickenham drubbing was an anomaly – a win over a strong Wales team would be a huge confidence boost in their final warm-up game. A defeat at home on the other hand…

Ireland by 2

Canada v USA
The Americans have had the upper hand over the neighbours in recent meetings, with the most recent being a 47-19 thrashing in the Pacific Nations Cup in July. The match is in Vancouver, but picking the USA seems like the safest bet.

USA by 7

22 thoughts on “Rugby World Cup 2019 Warm-ups: Predictions

  1. Outcomes seem likely, although unsure about the Canada v US game, esp with its being in Canada. The results likewise, but who knows? I don’t. Interesting that the world’s No.1 team only warranted a little over 4 lines of coverage. Hope they don’t read TRB. Otherwise, this marginalisation might act as extra motivation if they face England in the RWC.

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      1. Mmm. Bit like I can’t regarding the toy/comic/animation guy? Ha, ha. How about Aus v Samoa or Scot v Geo? Surely not exciting either. Yet both got more coverage?!

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    1. Canada are on a downward slide and I would expect the margin to be much bigger even with home advantage.

      p.s. i think you are being a bit over sensitive regarding the coverage of NZ v Tonga

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      1. A bit of poetic licence Leon. Also, more info regarding a potential WC opponent might be of interest? Like how will the ‘new’ prop fare? Will Barrett be the WC 10 or f/back? That sort of stuff. Of potential England relevance maybe?

        1. I think we know how Tonga will fare and it ain’t gonna be pretty.
          With Tonga the seasons change but there are certain immutable truths
          They will be physical and they will be direct but
          They will lack team cohesion and they will struggle against stronger opposition.
          Neither England nor NZ will face much of a challenge against Tonga

          1. Yeah Leon, but what’s yr point? NZ v Eng, which is what I was reffing, might be a different story. Hence a tad more interest in the former maybe? Esp after a lacklustre 1st 1/2 display v Italy B tonight. Talk about lack of ambition v a side which couldn’t score, wouldn’t score! And to boot, Youngs of all people & following all the friendly fire, got M o t M award!? If that display was designed to frighten WC opponents, I’m not sure it worked.

              1. That they CAN purr like a roller? Can eliminate errors? Can play an all court game? Amass a cricket score? Can score TRIES.. across the park? Have intro’ed a skillfull wing duo with jet shoes? Intent on playing a wide game @ pace with 2 7’s? Can play without Retallick? Can play with 1 or a 2 fly1/2 system? Have a particularly mobile, ball handling pack? Can function without key playmakers like Aaron Smith, SBW? That they go to Japan without major injury concerns? That sort of stuff?

                1. All valid points but if it was England tearing apart a weak tier 2 opponent in a similar fashion you would be the first person to point out that none of that means much in this context.
                  On form NZ are a frightening prospect but we have only really fired against tier 1 opp in the 2nd Aus test this year.

                  1. Well, sure. I’d likely pt out it was tier 2 opposition & that too much shouldn’t be reached into it, which often seems to be the case here. However, in the context of NZ putting out rookies v Argentina, losing v Oz with only 14, drawing with SA via the latter’s bounced off the face, last ditch try, nilling the Wallabies in the return match & all the while experimenting with a 2 fly1/2 system, I nevertheless think that they fired a warning shot as to what they are capable of & are not yet quite dead in the water as some, including not a few hacks, opine. The bookies disagree with this view of course, but we’ll see what happens on the 21/9.

                2. Also could you not have said the exact same about England after they thrashed Ireland at Twickenham.
                  Purr – check
                  Eliminate errors – check
                  Cricket score – check
                  Jet shoes – check
                  Wide Game – check
                  2 7’s – check
                  2 fly halves – check
                  Mobile ball handling pack – check
                  can function without key players (Slade/Nowell) – check
                  and of course
                  Can play without Retalick – check

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                  1. Well not really Leon, no. Think you’re cherry picking somewhat to suit yr contention. Hardly a cricket score comparison. Or certainly v Italy, esp when they had a nr full choice of team. Putted more more like a Morris Minor? Yr 2 fly1/2s comparison is also spurious. Farrell didn’t play @ f/back, a pivotal position to attack from, but he’s had plenty prev exp @ inside centre. It’s not a new option. Don’t think either of yr j shoe wingers scored 4 either. And BTW, watch Reece, he’s a natural, a dangerous footy player. Also, for instance, is Slade really key? Only been selected within the last yr & may not even feature over Tui. Another thing, NZ’s Retallick’s hobby isn’t collecting yellows. Some chalk & cheese can’t involved?

  2. I would go with what is said here, traditionally USA v Canada is a two legged play-off for qualification to the World Cup and the results in 2017 were Canada 28-28 USA and USA 52-16 Canada with USA advancing.

    USA by 7 is a fair estimation.

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  3. SA dispatched Japan with ease. I think I’ve personally been overestimating Japan’s chances of getting out of the group, or is this SA team just that good?
    The first game NZ and SA play in the WC is the group decider. What a game that will be! NZ ranked number 1, SA the reigning Super Rugby champs (albeit a shorter, pre-WC format). Think it will be very close.

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    1. The Boks side is solid, not world beaters but very competitive. They have their heads screwed on straight and are playing with confidence. Which for me makes them tough to beat at this point. Japan are not in the same class to be fair, however I did expect them to have more going forward.

  4. BSB, You state that SA are solid, not world beaters. Well, that’s yet to be seen. Ruck have NZ, Ireland, England, Aus, SA, Wales ranked top 6 in descending order to win the WC. Currently I’d have SA, just, behind NZ due to recent form. Can’t justifiy Ire, Eng nec being in front of Wales let alone SA. The former 3 have all had recent losses in which they’ve been unconvincing. SA’s nxt game v NZ will likely tell more.

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