Less than 8 months to World Cup 2019
Now that all the teams for the Rugby World Cup 2019 are known I take another look at how they have performed since the start of 2018.
As in the other articles in this series (found here and here) all data comes from the World Rugby site but the tables and comments are my own. The only games that have been included have been those between full national sides. So games like the USA vs Māori All Blacks or the Uruguay vs Argentina XV have not been included.
Again, I have used the same bonus points system used for the Six Nations and other European competitions.
The ‘League’ Table
There were a few changes in November to this table, notably the inclusion of Canada as the repechage winner. The USA’s loss to Ireland has seen them drop below Ireland and Namibia have dropped below Scotland, South Africa and England. England’s improved performance has seen them climb a couple of places. At the bottom of the table Japan and Tonga have both slipped back while Italy, Argentina and Fiji have all picked up places.
Again the lack of games for some of the Tier Two nations is obvious, with Tonga only able to play just over a third of the number of games played by the All Blacks and Springboks.
Another thing that stands out to me is the positions of the teams from Pool C. Kaito Goto suggested in his article (Four upsets for 2019 Rugby World Cup (potentially)) that the USA might cause an upset or two in this pool. This is beginning to look increasingly possible although a lot could change over the next few months.
Points per Game Table
As in the previous two articles I’ve also looked at how well teams are doing based on the number of points they have picked up per game. As you would expect the difference between the teams is closing as more games have been played. However if you look at the differences within the pools; Pool A has a spread of just over 1.86, Pool B just under 3.45, Pool C just over 3.48 and Pool D just over 1.97.
Again the USA, New Zealand and Ireland are all picking up more than 4 points per game. Namibia have dropped their perfect record but are still above Wales while at the other end of the table Argentina and Italy have both failed to pick up more than a point per game.
Australia have managed to improve their points per game and England have increased their average by over half a point. Have these teams turned a corner?
Tries, Points and Winning Percentage
This table shows a lot of changes since the end of September. Namibia and the USA have both lost their 100% win record. Ireland have improved theirs to top the table and Wales have climbed into 4th. Scotland’s losses to Wales and South Africa has meant that they have dropped below Fiji, despite beating them in November.
Australia and England have both improved their winning percentage, leaving France, Italy and Argentina at the bottom. Japan’s losses to Tier One nations has seen their percentage drop so that they are now equal with South Africa and England in the middle of this table.
Looking at the number of tries scored, the All Blacks and USA are still scoring more than 5 tries per game. They both look to be in good shape going into this year.
Penalties And Other Kicks
I’ve made a change to the way I’ve displayed this table. In the previous articles I simply listed the teams in alphabetical order. For this one I’ve arranged them by their overall kicking percentages, although that is not listed on the table. I was quite surprised at who came out on top.
France have been succeeding in 88% of their kicks! Everyone from Wales up have been kicking at 80% or above. Those from Georgia down have been below the 80% mark with all but Fiji kicking above 70%. Fiji seem to be an outlier on 60.53%.
Remember Steven suggested last year that a team would need to include the ability to kick at 80% to fit the profile of a World Cup winner. Before anyone jumps on this as an indication of a weakness in the All Blacks, please consider that they have scored 159 points with these kicks. That is almost the same as scoring another 32 tries!
How to Win Rugby World Cup 2019
The following video is the first in a series completed by The 1014 Rugby on YouTube that highlights patterns in previous World Cup winning teams. Will Rugby World Cup 2019 fit these models?
This is the last article I am writing which will cover all of the teams. I intend to continue this type of analysis for each of the pools after the Six Nations and each of the other sets of internationals running up to the World Cup. I will include the data from 2018 in this to give a clearer picture of each teams development. 2018 was a great year for rugby, lets hope this year is even better and that Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan is a huge success!
Author: Paul Futers
Born in Dundee, Scotland to English parents who moved around the country before settling in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. I discovered Rugby at secondary school and played until I was involved in an accident during a 1st XV game.
At university I was awarded half colours for my work as Sports Editor for the student newspaper.
My favourite pass time is watching my youngest son play for South Shields Westoe in the age grades with my father-in-law and his father.