On the 20th September, one of the biggest sporting events of the year will get underway in Japan as 20 of the top international Rugby Union teams in the world will battle it out across an initial group stage and then a series of knockout matches to decide who is the 2019 Rugby World Cup Champions.

New Zealand are the holders of the trophy, having won it the last two times it was contested in 2011 and 2015, but the All Blacks will face a stern test this time around with the likes of Australia, South Africa, England, Wales and Ireland all reckoned by many experts to have a good chance of success in Japan this autumn.

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Let’s now take a look at how the Rugby World Cup 2019 is organised across Japan by looking at each of the four pools of five teams and the schedule of games for each pool. The key games in each group have been highlighted in italics.

Rugby World Cup 2019 – Pools and Schedule

Pool A

  • Ireland
  • Scotland
  • Japan
  • Russia
  • Samoa

Pool A Fixtures

  • 20th Sept – Japan v Russia (Tokyo)
  • 22nd Sept – Ireland v Scotland (Yokohama)
  • 24th Sept – Russia v Samoa (Kumagaya)
  • 28th Sept – Japan v Ireland (Shizuoka)
  • 30th Sept – Scotland v Samoa (Kobe)
  • 3rd Oct – Ireland v Russia (Kobe)
  • 5th Oct – Japan v Samoa (Toyota)
  • 9th Oct – Scotland v Russia (Shizuoka)
  • 12th Oct – Ireland v Samoa (Fukuoka)
  • 13th Oct – Japan v Scotland (Yokohama)

How will Pool A finish?

With Russia likely to be the whipping boys of this group, it will be interesting to see how Japan and Samoa perform. Of the two, I feel the host nation has the best chance of causing an upset, as they did when beating South Africa 34-32 in sensational style at the 2015 World Cup. Being on home soil will also give Japan an advantage.

But in truth they are still way off the levels that Scotland and particularly Ireland display and I would be very surprised if the Irish don’t win this group very comfortably. The Scotland v Japan game could decide who finishes second in the group and while the Scots should do it, there’ll be huge pressure and a fervent home crowd going against them in that final game.

To Win the Pool Betting – Pool A

  • Ireland – 1/4
  • Scotland – 10/3
  • Japan – 16/1
  • Samoa – 250/1
  • Russia – 500/1

Group Prediction – 1st – Ireland, 2nd – Scotland, 3rd – Japan, 4th, Samoa, 5th Russia.

Pool B

  • New Zealand
  • South Africa
  • Italy
  • Namibia
  • Canada

Pool B Fixtures

  • 21st Sept – New Zealand v South Africa (Yokohama)
  • 22nd Sept – Italy v Namibia (Higashiosaka)
  • 26th Sept – Italy v Canada (Fukuoka)
  • 28th Sept – South Africa v Namibia (Toyota)
  • 2nd Oct – New Zealand v Canada (Oita)
  • 4th Oct – South Africa v Italy (Fukuroi)
  • 6th Oct – New Zealand v Namibia (Chofu)
  • 8th Oct – South Africa v Canada (Kobe)
  • 12th Oct – New Zealand v Italy (Toyota)
  • 13th Oct – Namibia v Canada (Kamaishi)

How will Pool B finish?

The first game in this group will likely decide which of the two giants of the game finish first in the table and the odds are on New Zealand being the team that lands the win. South Africa are a decent team but they are not quite at the standard of the All Blacks, but I do expect this to be a tight and close encounter, especially with it being the opening game in the group.

That said, even if they lose, I’d still expect South Africa to comfortably qualify as they will beat all the other teams in the group and Italy should finish third with Canada fourth and outsiders Namibia bringing up the rear and in all likelihood, set to lose every game they play.

To Win The Pool Betting – Pool B

  • New Zealand – 1/3
  • South Africa – 23/10
  • Italy – 200/1
  • Canada – 500/1
  • Namibia – 1000/1

Group Prediction – 1st New Zealand, 2nd South Africa, 3rd Italy, 4th Canada, 5th Namibia

Pool C

  • England
  • France
  • Argentina
  • United States
  • Tonga

Pool C Fixtures

  • 21st Sept – France v Argentina (Chofu)
  • 22nd Sept – England v Tonga (Sapporo)
  • 26th Sept – England v USA (Kobe)
  • 28th Sept – Argentina v Tonga (Higashiosaka)
  • 2nd Oct – France v USA (Fukuoka)
  • 5th Oct – England v Argentina (Chofu)
  • 6th Oct – France v Tonga (Kumamoto)
  • 9th Oct – Argentina v USA (Kumagaya)
  • 12th Oct – England v France (Yokohama)
  • 13th Oct – United States v Tonga (Higashosaka)

How Will Pool C Finish?

For me, Pool C is the one that has the potential for an upset as alongside the ‘big two’ of England and France, Argentina are fast emerging as a real talent on the world stage. While I expect England to win the group, I don’t think their games with France or Argentina will be that easy but I do expect England to win both, and that would mean that first game in the group between France and Argentina is crucial in deciding who finishes 2nd and qualifies and who finishes 3rd and misses out.

The French are not the best travellers and I think Argentina do have enough quality to make this a really close game and the fact it is the opener I think will also play into their hands. I do believe the Pumas could score an upset win here but only if they play to their very best and France under-perform. However, I am backing France not to do that and just about scrape the win. Tonga should finish fourth with the USA bringing up the rear.

To Win The Pool Betting – Pool C

  • England – 4/11
  • France – 9/2
  • Argentina – 5/1
  • Tonga – 350/1
  • USA – 500/1

Group Prediction – 1st England, 2nd France, 3rd Argentina, 4th Tonga, 5th USA

Pool D

  • Australia
  • Wales
  • Georgia
  • Fiji
  • Uruguay

Pool D Fixtures

  • 21st Sept – Australia v Fiji (Sapporo)
  • 23rd Sept – Wales v Georgia (Toyota)
  • 25th Sept – Fiji v Uruguay (Kamaishi)
  • 29th Sept – Georgia v Uruguay (Kumagaya)
  • 29th Sept – Australia v Wales (Chofu)
  • 3rd Oct – Georgia v Fiji (Higashiosaka)
  • 5th Oct – Australia v Uruguay (Oita)
  • 9th Oct – Wales v Fiji (Oita)
  • 11th Oct – Australia v Georgia (Fukuroi)
  • 13th Oct – Wales v Uruguay (Kumamoto)

How will Pool D Finish?

With Fiji likely to finish third and Georgia and Uruguay finishing in the bottom two positions, it is a question of who wins the group, Australia or Wales and I think this group is perhaps the hardest to call in terms of the team that wins it.

Wales form is the better of the two teams of late and the Welsh have been World Number 1 for a while, but Australia have found some decent form of late, beating New Zealand recently and they always have a knack for putting in their very best performances in a World Cup Finals.

As much as Wales are the favourites, this is the one group where I feel an upset could be on the cards and I am backing Australia to win the game between the two and with it take top spot in the group, with the Welsh finishing a comfortable second.

To Win The Pool Betting – Pool D

  • Wales – 8/11
  • Australia – 11/10
  • Fiji – 40/1
  • Georgia – 250/1
  • Uruguay – 500/1

Group Prediction – 1st Australia, 2nd Wales, 3rd, Fiji, 4th Georgia, 5th Uruguay