The Rugby World Cup is in full swing, and we’ve already had the chance to see some of the top teams in action. Just like any international competition out there, this Cup has its heavy favourites and underdogs. After all, group stages are just a preparation for what lies ahead — a clash of the titans in the elimination rounds.
Nevertheless, it is worth taking a look at the opening games to see how the teams performed.
Although they are ranked as the number one team in the world, Ireland is far from being the top favourite to become the world champion. Nevertheless, it would be an upset of the century if we didn’t see the Irish in the quarterfinals, and they started their World Cup campaign rather convincingly with a 27–3 victory over their eastern neighbours Scotland.
Japan won as well, beating Russia 30–10 to the joy of the packed stadium in Tokyo. The hosts drew a passable group, although tough matches lay ahead, as they are facing Ireland next.
Two-time defending champion New Zealand has their fans worried due to the sudden changes in their roster. However, reassurance came quickly after the first match in which they beat South Africa 23–13, a team that is also one of the top contenders for the trophy. The All Blacks had a convincing first half in which they scored 17 points in the span of six minutes. The South Africans gave them a scare in the second half, but the champs held on regardless.
In the second game of that group, Italy expectedly cruised past Namibia in a 47–22 victory, although Namibians had a 7–0 lead early on.
France and Argentina played what was the most competitive match of the World Cup so far. The French dominated the first half, outscoring their opponents by 20 goals to 3. However, the Argentinians turned it around in the second 40 minutes and even took the lead with 12 minutes left. However, a drop goal from Lopez decided the game, and France prevailed with a 23–21 victory.
As expected, England didn’t have a tough time against Tonga. It was tied 3–3 until the 23rd minute, after which Tuilagi and Farrell took over. The final score was 35–3.
Wales and Australia are the best two teams in pool D, which they confirmed in their first-round matches. Wales got the better of Georgia, one of the biggest underdogs of the tournament. The Welsh already established dominance in the first half by leading 29–0. The final score was 43–14.
The Australians were supposed to have a walk in the park against Fiji, but the small Pacific nation proved to be tough, at least in the first half. Fiji even led after the first half (14–12) after three penalty goals from Volavola. It was even 21–12 at one point, but the Aussies took over from there, and scored 27 goals in the last 30 minutes of the game, winning the match 39–21.
What Should You Bet on?
We haven’t seen any upsets so far in the tournament, so sportsbooks haven’t changed their betting offers much. The most popular type of bet for this tournament is guessing the outright winner.
New Zealand is still considered the top favourite, with the odds of around 2.20 to win the whole thing. Right behind them is England with 5.00. South Africa is third on the list (5.50), despite the fact that the Springboks lost to the All Blacks in the first round.
Since this is the biggest rugby tournament in the world, you will have plenty of other betting markets to explore. Try betting on the group winner, or the stage of elimination for each team. If you feel confident, you can try guessing which two teams will end up in the big final.