Rugby fanatic Marcello Cossali-Francis (@marcello95cf) pens his betting thoughts on the 2019 Rugby World Cup and delivers us with his best bets.
2019 Rugby World Cup 2019 Betting Preview & Tips
It’s finally here! The Rugby World Cup begins this Friday, as hosts, Japan, face Russia in the opening game of the 2019 tournament.
Most people are saying this could well be the most competitive WC yet, with probably six teams having a genuine claim. Ireland, New Zealand and Wales have all had the world no.1 ranking over the last few weeks, whereas England, Ireland, South Africa and Australia have all had an encouraging last 12 months.
The All Blacks are rightly the favourites at 6/4 best price but the fact they aren’t odds-on to win tells its own story. Plenty of money has been coming in for South Africa in the last few months, especially after winning the Rugby Championship in the summer, in which they drew with New Zealand away from home and beat both Australia and Argentina convincingly. Australia also beat New Zealand in comprehensive fashion in the Rugby Championship this year and have shown they are a real force going forward.
Wales, England and Ireland all have their reasons to believe they can overcome the southern-hemisphere dominance in World Cup's. Wales won the Grand Slam earlier this year and were on a 14-match winning streak before the warm-up matches. Ireland beat New Zealand last autumn and England have the quality and strength in-depth to win and will be even more confident after their demolition of Ireland in the warm-up game a few weeks ago.
Outsiders consist of Argentina and France, who are both equally dangerous on their day but their inconsistency is always something that is going to be a problem in a World Cup.
There is plenty of money to be made in the ante-post markets so let’s have a look through them and find some winners!
Talking of winners, we may as well start with the obvious one. For me, I personally think New Zealand are beatable and we saw that in the defeats to Ireland in the autumn, the defeat to Australia in the Rugby Championship and the draw with South Africa at home. They do not look as invincible as they have done in the past two World Cup's and I think they will be beaten this year.
My pick is South Africa. They have shown in the Rugby Championship what they are capable of and they seem to have built a really physical side that is battle-hardened for this campaign. They have got the balance between flair and brute spot on, with a huge forward pack and some really exciting backs. They are in a group with the All Blacks, however, and that first game between those two will, I think, prove very decisive. Otherwise, the other teams in their group won’t cause them many problems. Italy, Namibia and Canada are the unlucky three that have been paired with the two favourites and South Africa and New Zealand will be able to rest players and try some different combinations in those matches, given that they will most likely win those games regardless.
Both of them will get through, therefore and then they will play the sides who progress from group A (either Scotland, Japan or Ireland). They will have too much for those sides, I feel, and I do think they will go on to face each other again in the final after coming through their semis.
BEST BET – South Africa to win the World Cup (1pt – 9/2)
Top Try scorer
With this market, the key is to pick a player playing for a side who have the more favourable group. The chances are, one good game from a player could win you this bet, so looking at the groups, I think a player from South Africa or New Zealand is the safest place to go. Those two have games against Italy, Namibia and Canada, in which you would not be shocked to see them hit each of them for at least 80 points (maybe Italy will keep them down to a little less). Therefore, my picks are mainly amongst South Africa and New Zealand.
The favourite is, shock, an All Black winger, Rieko Ioane at 10/1. His stats are quite ridiculous, for any player, let alone a 22-year-old. Since he crashed onto the scene in 2016 for the Blues in Super Rugby, he has scored 32 tries in 49 matches and since he became an All Black, he has racked up 23 tries in 26 appearances. On that evidence, it is really difficult to look past him, especially at 10/1.
Another of my picks here would be S’busiso Nkosi of South Africa. He has not been in the Springbok setup for long, only the past year but he has already scored seven tries in his eight appearances and his two against Argentina showed what a prolific scorer he can be. Again, with South Africa having games against Namibia, Canada and Italy, you fancy them to score a bucket load, so you’d like to think Nkosi will get plenty of chances.
Having said all of that, there is a chance, given how straight-forward the group is, that the Springboks and New Zealand will rotate their squad, meaning less game time for some players. So with that in mind, I am going to go to Group D for my other selection, which is Australian winger, Marika Koribete at 50/1. He is not as prolific as the other two but he is Australia’s biggest threat and given they play games against Fiji, Georgia and Uruguay, at those prices he is a great each-way shot.
So those three are my picks here. I’d be betting on Ioane and Nkosi out-right and then Korobiete each-way. Bookies will pay out the top four places.
BEST BET – (all 1pt) Rieko Ioane (10/1), S’busiso Nkosi (18/1), Marika Koribete (50/1, each-way)
Top Point Scorer
This is a category that again, you need to bear in mind the amount of games you think a player will have. My pick for this market is Owen Farrell, who does happen to be the favourite at 4/1. Farrell is a points machine and has hit double-digits for points in all but one of his seven games he has played in this season. He is averaging 13 PPG and again, the group England are in is favourable for points.
Argentina and France will both ship points, England put 44 past France in the Six Nations this year and Farrell scored 17 there himself. England have a very strong record against Argentina also, averaging almost 30 points per game against them in the last nine meetings, in which England have won all nine.
England then play Tonga and the USA, in which you would expect them to score plenty as well, so Farrell could well eat up the points at this World Cup.
As with the try scorer market, each-way bets are available and the top 3 places will be paid out. With that in mind, it is always good to look out for a big price for someone further down the list. The thinking behind these two picks at bigger prices is that Australia will score plenty of points but at this time it is still unclear as to who will get the number 10 jersey. Christian Lealii’fano and Bernard Foley have shared the last few games Australia have played and it remains a selection headache for coach Michael Cheika. Lealii’fano is priced at 25/1 and Foley at 50/1, so I would be having a bet on whoever is selected to start in their opening game against Fiji.
BEST BET – (all 1pt) Owen Farrell top points scorer (4/1) Bernard Foley (50/1 each-way) or Christian Lealii’fano (25/1 each-way)
After the main markets, there are a few other bets I like the look of. With SkyBet, you can pick the top try scorer for each nation and they will pay out each-way on the top three from each country. Therefore, it could only take a couple of tries from someone unlikely at a big price to win us some money. Below I have picked out a few selections I like the look of.
England – Jamie George (20/1 each-way): George is a hooker but England score quite a few tries through their forwards. I would expect England to score plenty of tries against USA, Tonga, Argentina and France and if England kick to the corner enough, I think George can profit from those positions and pick up a few scores.
Wales – Liam Williams (4/1): Liam Williams is by far Wales’ most attacking player and in a Saracens shirt we saw him score a number of tries including a hat-trick or two. Wales’ wingers don’t score many but in games against Uruguay, Fiji and Georgia, you’d back Wales to profit out wide and Williams is always there to get involved.