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Rugby World Cup Preview

by Ben, last updated 2007-09-04 20:17:31

 Rugby World Cup Preview


The sixth Rugby World Cup which begins on Friday in the Stade de France will see twenty nations take part in forty eight matches over forty four days. No country has ever retained the Cup and Brian Ashton's England side are not expected to buck that trend. New Zealand are 4/9 to win their 2nd World Cup and are the best team, but they are not the best bet at those prohibitive odds.

You can back England at 33/1 with www.betdirect.net to retain the William Webb Ellis Cup and, whilst we are expecting a swell of patriotic support, the more discerning rugby punter is steering well clear of the holders. They lack the class and pace to break down top class international defences and the squad is reliant on experience and strength at the expense of youth and flair.

England face Samoa, Tonga, USA and South Africa in the Group stages and ought to qualify, but they are 5/2 to top the Group (South Africa 1/4 favourites). Unless they beat the Springboks they are likely to meet Australia in the quarter finals in Marseille on October 6th, and the Aussies showed their class when they beat the All Blacks at the MCG at the end of June.

England are 8/11 at www.betdirect.net to be knocked out at the quarter final stage and that is proving very popular. If you believe we can beat the Aussies as in 2003, or you feel we will top the group and make our way into the last four, probably at the expense of Wales, we are 9/4 to be eliminated at the semi final stage and 10/1 to be the runners up.

Of the other home Nations Ireland are 20/1 to land the Trophy but they are too reliant on the skills of Brian O'Driscoll and his latest injury scare is a concern. Wales are 66/1 whilst Scotland are 200/1. The Irish are not guaranteed to reach the knock out stages given they face hosts France and Argentina. The Pumas did lose to Wales at the Millennium Stadium 27-20 recently but the 2/1 that the Irish do not reach the quarter finals looks very big to me.

Wales look sure to reach the last eight but we are confident that is where their World Cup journey will end and they are 4/11 to be eliminated at that stage. They are 3/1 to lose in the semi finals and 16/1 to be tournament runners up.

Scotland have no chance of beating New Zealand despite the game being played at Murrayfield but are 8/11 to win their group without the All Blacks. The runners up slot is likely to be decided by the final group game between Scotland and Italy at St Etienne on the 29th September. The Azzurri beat the Scots 37-17 at Murrayfield back in February and are a confident selection to confirm the form. The Scots are 11/10 at www.betdirect.net not to qualify and that looks too big.

When you consider the All Blacks have in their group both Portugal and Romania the tournament's top try scorer is likely to be a New Zealand back. But which one? It is possible that first-choice wingers Joe Rokocoko and Sivivatu will not play against the minnows of Portugal and Romania and it is likely that New Zealand will score at least ten tries in both matches. Second-guessing team selection is difficult but the recommendation is having a couple of quid on Malili Muliaina (14/1 at www.betdirect.net ) who can play anywhere in the backs and looks just the type to score a hatful against the lesser lights.

France were impressive against the English and Welsh recently and with home advantage they are the recommendation at 7/1 for the outright, although I suggest a saver at 9/4 in the market without the All Blacks.

Visit Betdirect today for all Rugby World Cup prices.




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