With 17 out of 20 teams for the Rugby World Cup 2019 confirmed, I thought I would write an article of matches at the World Cup where Tier 2 countries could put one over a Tier 1.
First of all, in the history of the World Cup, it has happened five times. Wales have been beaten by Samoa twice (1991 and 1999) and by Fiji in 2007. The other ones are Tonga beating France in 2011 and Japan beating South Africa in 2015.
An interesting trend here is that all of these are either the first (1991 and 2015) or last pool match (1999, 2007, 2011) for the two teams. Would love to hear your thoughts on the reason for this.
Pool A (AKA The Party Pool): Japan vs Scotland
Steve pointed this one out in his video and I had the same opinion when I first saw the schedule.
Firstly, this is the last pool game for Japan and Scotland, so it follows the trend I have mentioned above.
Japan will come into this game after an eight-day turnaround against Play-off Winner (Samoa or Spain). On the other hand, Scotland will play this game just four days after their match against Romania.
The match will also be played in Yokohama Stadium, the biggest stadium for the tournament. So the big crowd in Japan could put even more pressure on the Scots.
After Ireland’s spectacular Grand Slam, we can say that they are the favourites to top this pool. They have Scotland first up and then face Japan after a six-day turnaround.
This could be another advantage Japan has going into this game because this makes it easier for Japan to pick-up losing bonus points than Scotland (just based on Ireland’s recent success), since Japan will face a tired Irish side.
Pool B: N/A
Unfortunately, neither of the two non-automatic qualifiers are confirmed for this pool.
Pool C (AKA Pool of Death): England vs USA and Argentina vs USA
The Pool of death is even deadlier with these two matches scheduled unfavourably for the Tier 1 nations.
England vs USA:
USA’s first match, against England, could allow USA to become unpredictable to Eddie Jones’ men.
For England, this match in Kobe is just four days after their match against Tonga in Sapporo.
What makes it worst for England is that Sapporo and Kobe is a flight distance of 2 hours away. The flight duration isn’t too bad but mid-September is the peak of the Typhoon season in Japan. So there is a risk of flight delays and/or cancelled outdoor training sessions.
Argentina vs USA:
This one could be an even better opportunity for the USA.
This is Argentina’s last pool match, so it also follows the trend I mentioned in the introduction.
The USA comes off a seven-day turnaround against France but Argentina will play this match just four days after their Tier 1 match against England.
Pool D: Wales vs Georgia
This match fits perfectly with the pattern described in the introduction.
Welsh fans will be sick of hearing that three of the five Rugby World Cup upsets in history have been conceded by Wales. This is also the first match for both of these nations.
Georgia did surprise some fans by beating Tonga in their first match of the previous tournament. They will be looking to rise this up by a notch in Japan next year.
Last of all, I would love to hear your thoughts. The schedule can be found at the link here.
Author: Kaito Goto