The Rugby World Cup is one of the most anticipated events on the sporting calendar and the competition is due to get underway on September 18th. The draw has been done and each group looks competitive but Pool B, aside from South Africa, could be the closest of them all. We take a look at each side and give our thoughts on their chances of progressing to the knockout stages of the tournament.
It could be argued that Samoa are the second best team in the group and, therefore, one would have to fancy them to progress along with South Africa. Weather they can go any further remains to be seen, with some bookmakers offering odds of 500/1 (odds from Coral correct at time of writing)and many pundits predicting a second round exit, progressing from the group stage may be seen as a great result. With a powerful pack and a strong set of backs, Samoa are stacked with talent all over the field and could be one of the surprise sides in the tournament. Although they aren’t quite up there with the best teams in the competition, they have beaten the likes of Wales and Scotland in recent years and will be one to watch.
Scotland are a hardworking, tight-knit side that won’t give up, no matter how far behind they may be. With the likes of Richie Gray and Greig Laidlaw in the team, they have experienced heads that can control and dominate matches. Although they aren’t necessarily the most talented unit in the competition, they are brave and will cause problems for opposing defences. It wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see Scotland reach the second stage of the tournament, especially with two home matches at Newcastle United’s St. James’ Park.
Japan may struggle to compete with the power of Samoa, Scotland and South Africa throughout the group stages but are more than capable of challenging the United States for a group stage victory. They are a proud group of players and are set to host the 2019 edition of the tournament. With that in mind, Japan will be looking to gain some Rugby World Cup experience and will start to plan ahead for their home competition in four years time.