Australia Start as Outsiders to Win Rugby World Cup

Wallabies

2017.08.19.20.05.51-AUS anthem-0001 (CC BY 2.0) by www.davidmolloyphotography.com

With the squads getting ready to make the trip to Japan for the 2019 Rugby World Cup, we assess the size of the challenge facing the Australian national Rugby Union team. 

The favourites

The Wallabies last won the World Cup 20 years ago. Failure to do so this time round would extend their barren streak into the third decade. However, they face a mammoth task with six teams favoured ahead of them by the major bookmakers.

The defeated 2015 Rugby World Cup finalists are priced longer than New Zealand, South Africa, England, Ireland and Wales in the latest Rugby Union betting with the best price of 12/1 currently available. With so many teams in good form, the Australians could almost be classed as underdogs for the upcoming event.

Preparations hampered

Australia’s pre-tournament preparations were dealt a blow when their flight to Japan was delayed by a typhoon. With schedules planned to the minutest detail in advance, the delay will have provided a headache for the training staff who were ready to begin their week-long training camp in Odawara. Michael Cheika’s side will now have less time to settle on Japanese soil before the action begins. However, they were not the only team to have their travel plans affected by the weather.

With their preparations hampered and their status as outsiders established, Australia might not seem like a sensible pick. However, they do have a team capable of going deep into the tournament. And they cannot face old foes New Zealand until at least the semi-final stage.

Group clash with Wales crucial

The Wallabies have been drawn in a group featuring a resurgent Wales side along with Fiji, Georgia and Uruguay. Depending on how they finish in the group, they could face England, France or even Argentina in the quarter-finals. Obviously, either France or Argentina would be their preferred option so winning the group should be their target. And that will mean beating Wales. The good news is that David Pocock will be back in the side to contest his last international Test series.

Wallabies

Warren Gatland. Wales Grand Slam Celebra (CC BY 2.0) by National Assembly For Wales / Cynulliad Cymru

 Warren Gatland’s Welsh side were undefeated in their last Six Nations campaign and briefly occupied the World No. 1 spot before a 22-17 defeat to Ireland knocked them down a peg or two. However, their overall form cannot be denied and they will be expected to win the group. 

Path to the final

Failure to beat Wales will mean Australia will have to get past England to reach the semi-finals where New Zealand are likely to be waiting. If they manage to beat the All Blacks, they could meet Wales, again, or South Africa in the final. When laid out in black and white, the Wallabies path to the final looks fraught with danger.

If they could beat Wales in the Group Stage, they would likely face France or Argentina in the last eight then South Africa or Ireland in the last four before coming up against the All Blacks in the final showdown on November 2. Still an uphill task but perhaps a slightly less steep one.

Overall, it is hard to see Australia overcoming so many big challenges even if they do manage to top their group. As a result, an exit at the semi-final stage looks like the best they can hope for this time around.

 

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