Join the scrum! Grab flags for the Rugby World Cup
By Mark Schutz
It’s almost time for the rough and tumble sporting event of 2019 -- the Rugby World Cup.
Kicking off on Sept. 20, the top 20 teams in the world will compete for the Webb Ellis Cup in Japan. Six weeks of rugby will culminate in the final on Nov. 2 in Yokohama.
The question is who will you be supporting in what is likely to be the most competitive RWC in many years. Grab the flag for your country here.
The competition is made up of four pools of five teams out of which two teams will emerge and compete in the quarter finals on the weekend of October 20th.
Host Japan is going to have fanatical support as it takes on top seeds Ireland, Scotland, Russia and Samoa. Many fans will remember their historic win over South Africa in 2015 above any of the games their own teams competed in. But can they defeat a resurgent Scotland side and a fancied Ireland, who despite a poor Six Nations, has beaten all the top sides in the last couple of years? Anyone who witnessed them defeat the All Blacks in Chicago or Dublin will know when the Irish show up they can beat anyone but can they perform on the biggest stage and get past the last eight for the first time?
Rugby World Cup facts
Dates: Sept. 20-Nov. 2
Host country: Japan
Defending champion: New Zealand
The second pool sees Canada up against it with two-time winners South Africa, three-time winners New Zealand, which is chasing an unprecedented three in a row. As always, the All Blacks are the bookmakers’ favorite to win the tournament, but plenty of teams including South Africa will fancy a shot as most of the Kiwis’ stars from the 2011 and 2015 cups have retired. But a young, hungry and exciting NZ team will arrive ready for battle. Italy and Namibia make up the numbers in Pool B, but nothing short of a miracle will see them progress.
The vastly improved USA Eagles unfortunately have landed in the Group of Death alongside a tough Tongan team, an unpredictable French side, a confident and peaking England and the dark horse of the tournament, Argentina. Anything can happen in this group as teams will inevitably take points from each other. Can the Americans use this to their advantage and escape the group into the easier side of the draw?
Six Nations grand slam winner Wales will fancy its chances in Pool D coming up against their old rivals Australia in what is likely going to decide who finishes atop the group. Uruguay, Fiji and Georgia will be there to try and upset the big two but they will find it very tough. Wales and Australia will be conscious finishing second could lead to a semifinal with New Zealand they will both want to avoid.