We have been spoiled for choice this year when it comes to great sporting occasions. And it isn't over yet. The 2019 Rugby World Cup starts tomorrow and right now it's anybody's game.
Ireland go into the tournament as the Number 1 ranked team in the world. That's on the back of their wins over Wales in back-to-back warm-up games a few weeks ago. But is that a help or will the pressure be too much?
Rugby World Cup History
The Rugby World Cup first started in 1987. It was jointly hosted by Australia and New Zealand and sixteen teams took part. New Zealand ultimately reigned supreme and bagged their first win. This began the Northern/Southern hemisphere host alternatives so the 1991 Rugby World Cup was held in England and was won by Australia.
In 1992 South Africa returned to test rugby and were chosen as the hosts of the 1995 Rugby World Cup. In what was one of the most historic sporting moments of our time, South Africa win the tournament with then-President Nelson Mandela, wearing a Springbok jersey. And who can forget when he presented the trophy to South Africa's captain, Francois Pienaar.
By 1999 the World Cup has returned North again, this time hosted by Wales but with games taking place throughout the UK, Ireland, and France. With an additional four teams now involved, 20 countries battled it out with Australia claiming their second win.
2003 saw that incredible drop goal from England's Jonny Wilkinson that saw his team lift the Webb Ellis, the first northern hemisphere team to do so. France hosted in 2007 and a still on-form England team were beaten in the final by South Africa, for their second World Cup win.
New Zealand won the rights to host the 2011 Rugby World Cup which they duly won on home soil. One of the greatest sporting teams in the world, the All Blacks returned to England in 2015 where they took their third World Cup title.
And that, of course, leads us the 9th Rugby World Cup – 2019 in Japan.
2019 Rugby World Cup Details
Still, with 20 teams in contention, this year's Rugby World Cup will be held in Japan. It starts on Friday, 20th September 2019 with Japan opening the tournament when they take on Russia in Tokyo. There are four Pools with each Pool containing five teams. Those teams will then all play each other until, October 13th, when the top two from each Pool is determined.
Those remaining eight teams will then go into one of four quarter-finals to be played on the 19th and 20th of October. The winners will progress to the semi-finals on October 26th and 27th before the finalists emerge.
The 2019 Rugby World Cup Final will be played on Saturday 2nd November 2019.
Who Will Win the 2019 Rugby World Cup
Short of having a crystal ball, this year, it is particularly difficult to anticipate who will win. Ireland, as mentioned above, go into the World Cup as the number one team in the world.
However, their own season hasn't quite gone as planned and they were at the receiving end of a spanking from England just a few weeks ago. They would also have to make it passed either New Zealand or South Africa just to get out of the quarter-finals.
But England will have to make it passed Australia with Wales, France, and Argentina also stiff potential competition. That said, they are on odds of 4/1 and are second-favorites to win behind the All Blacks. They are a very, very short 5/4 to win. Next up is South Africa who are 9/2 to win their third Rugby World Cup.
Ireland are now 8/1, having moved out from a lower 9/2 a few months ago. They are followed by Wales at 10/1 and Australia at 13/1.
There are of course plenty of other Rugby World Cup betting markets including top try scorer, top points scorer, which Pool will produce the winner, etc… Check them out at Paddy Power Bookmakers for a greater selection of odds.