Rugby union fans will be ready for six weeks of rugby with the latest edition of the Rugby World Cup about to start in Japan.
The Wallabies start their campaign on Saturday, against Fiji, as 20 of the world’s best teams meet to see who will win the Webb Ellis Trophy.
Free-to-air television will carry some games, but Aussie fans can watch every game live on Kayo Sports - click here for a free two week trial!
The Wallabies play in Pool D where their opponents will be Fiji, Georgia, Wales and Uruguay. First up is Fiji, on Saturday, in the Sapporo Dome and Australia will not want to be on the receiving end of a shock result.
Fiji is renowned for their Sevens rugby, and Michael Cheika’s men can expect a hard and fast game. The crucial match in the group, which should decide who tops Pool D, is against Wales on September 29. Wales, coached by Warren Gatland, are currently one place above the Wallabies in the world rankings in fifth place.
New Zealand goes into the tournament as favourites. The All Blacks have won the last two Rugby World Cups and Wallabies fans will bitterly remember the 34-17 defeat their team suffered four years ago in the final at Twickenham.
Although the All Blacks retained the Bledisloe Cup, other nations’ fans will point to the Wallabies resounding 47-26 thumping handed out in Perth. England and South Africa will be at great pains to shatter the unbeatable aurora of the All Blacks. Both teams are reasonably placed to mount a serious charge for the Webb Ellis Trophy.
Pool A sees home team Japan paired with Ireland, Russia, Samoa and Scotland. Although Japan has home advantage, and a pedigree for shocking teams as they did to South Africa in 2015, it should be Ireland and Scotland who progress to the quarter-finals.
The Irish have displaced the All Blacks as the number one team in the world while Scotland will be looking to better their progress, a narrow quarter-final defeat to the Wallabies, the last time out.
Pool B’s main matchup will be on Saturday evening when the All Blacks and the Springboks clash in Yokohama. This match will be huge, and the All Blacks will know how dangerous South Africa can be.
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Aussie fans can watch every game live on Kayo Sports - click here for a free two week trial!
Just two months ago, Herschel Jantjies grabbed a last-minute try, and Handre Pollard converted to snatch a 16-16 draw in Wellington. Canada, Italy and Namibia will not have enough to dent these two powerhouses of rugby.
Pool C should be down to two from Argentina, France and England qualifying. In their home tournament four years’ ago, England failed to get out of their pool and coach Eddie Jones will make sure this doesn’t happen again.
France and Argentina’s match on Saturday feels like a decider to see which team joins England in the quarter-finals. Tonga and the USA make the pool.
The tournament is set to be fascinating as Asia gets its first Rugby World Cup. The pool matches throw up some interesting clashes that could be key later in the tournament. However, one key factor could be the weather.
Japan is liable to typhoons, and no reserve days have been set aside. If games are affected by the weather, each team shares the points. A weather event could give one of the lesser sides, such as Japan or Fiji, an opportunity to get out of the pool and take down one of the fancied teams.
Who is going to lift the Webb Ellis Trophy on November 2 in Yokohama? If it is to be Michael Hooper, then the Wallabies need to be more consistent.
Despite the All Blacks being favourites, the winners are probably going to be England or South Africa. However, once the knockout stages are underway, then squad depth and a bit of luck could deliver Australia’s third Rugby World Cup win after 1991 and 1999.
Watch every game live on Kayo Sports - click here for a free two week trial!