Rugby World Cup: fans give their previews and predictions
We hope to win it, but is that realistic? We will be competitive and we will trouble top teams, may even upset one if it all comes magically together. We have a decent draw if we can beat Wales. If we top our pool, we play France or Argentina in the quarter-finals and will be too strong for them. That gives us a semi-final, most probably against South Africa or New Zealand, maybe Ireland, at which time our tournament will end. If we are very lucky and face Ireland – who are a much more settled team but have shown some weaknesses recently – we might make a final. But I very much doubt it.
We have a decent pack and lineout, but our No 6 is not a No 6. Michael Cheika will unbalance the pack and play the Michael Hooper and David Pockock combo, which does not work. Our bench players does not give us depth. We have brought an out-of-form and ageing Ashley Cooper instead of some of our best performers. One full-back can’t catch high balls and the other has no pace. At least one winger has no pace. And, crucially for a World Cup, we don’t have a consistent goal kicker. Still ... we can come together once in a while. Aiden Smith
The “glory days” of the 1990s, when Canada could be competitive against all but the very big boys, are long gone and there is a widespread acceptance that the standard of rugby here has slipped and with it a huge opportunity has gone. Couple that with being placed in a “pool of death” and expectations among Canadian rugby fans are very low. The Namibia game represents our final. If we win that and put up a creditable performance against Italy, most fans will be satisfied. Tim Yobilo
England are not favourites but we are one of the main contenders. This World Cup is one of the most open, so I expect to see a lot of surprises and new heroes emerging from all countries. Hopefully England can win it all!||Here in Greece the faithful few are organising ourselves to see the games where we can, all together, even though we support different countries! I personally, due to my Newcastle heritage, want to see Mark Wilson continuing his good performances, making the North proud. Anthony Kiousopoulos
I fear an elimination at the pool stage, especially taking into account recent results. Argentina are a strong team and England are above us by far. Although, if we beat Argentina, we could reach the semi-finals. Wales or Australia in the quarter-finals are both winnable games. The good thing is that for the first time in years, the French have had time to work as a unit, particularly on tactics. The enhanced management team also changed the defence, which worked well during warm-up games.
It might be too early for some of the brand new players such as Romain Ntamack, Demba Bamba and Peato Mauvaka, but the exceptional gifts of some of the young guns like Antoine Dupont, Damian Penaud and Grégory Alldritt mixed with the rebirth of some old guns like Maxime Médard and Louis Picamoles could bring some good results. The problem is that the team isn’t rock-solid and it has some weaknesses better teams can exploit. Arnoud Xavier
It seems mad to be saying I’m nervous when my team is ranked as world No 1, but that’s the mad position I’m in as an Ireland fan. 2018 was a dream year. If the 2019 Six Nations felt lacklustre by comparison, then the thrashing by England was a real bodyblow for a fan’s confidence.
Recent results against Wales steadied the ship and I hope we can recover the magic that saw us outclass the All Blacks. I’m flying out to Japan and praying we hit the ground running against Scotland. I’m an Ulster girl and want Rory Best to go out on a high. One of the friends I’m going with is Scottish and I’ll be pure sickened if they have bragging rights for the rest of our trip. Emma Cassidy
We hope to win the first two games against Namibia and Canada, and then we’ll go in pilgrimage to the Vatican and pray for a miracle. Maybe we’ll defeat South Africa again like in 2017, or maybe we will face an already qualified and content All Blacks. But whatever happens I really hope that Sergio Parisse and Leo will have some glory in their last Rugby World Cup. Damiano Martignago
Historically we have played 19 lost 19, so a victory would be sweet. Scoring a try against South Africa or New Zealand would be awesome. As the lowest ranked team in the finals and, probably, the fewest fans able to afford the trip, our fan strategy will be to get the Japanese to love us and support us. I know our team will play with strength and stubborn optimism. We love Namibia and the fact that we are on the world stage. We will be few, but we will sing our national anthem, Land of the Brave, with passion. Jeremy Silvester
After the heartbreak of 2007, the nervousness and joy of 2011, and the excitement of 2015, it’s hard to say if New Zealand will raise the trophy once more. Of course, Kiwis are dreaming of the legendary three wins in a row. However, we know that having an amazing team doesn’t make it a winning team. With 2007 in our memories, no New Zealander is going to assume we will always make it through the quarter-finals.
Ardie Savea and Brodie Retellick are the two players I am looking forward to watching the most. I’m excited for Retallick’s return from injury and I hope Savea receives the international recognition his abilities deserve. We will be proud of our boys no matter what. Nikki Carter
We just want to give it a good lash. We probably won’t get out of the group, barring a miracle. KT O’Connor
Anything less than the quarter-finals would be a big disappointment; anything more a big surprise. It’s hard to know what to expect from Scotland anymore, such is their inconsistency. They are capable of blistering brilliance one day (running in six tries in half an hour or so at Twickenham) and abject incompetence the next (the error-strewn performances at home to Ireland and away to France in this year’s Six Nations). I’m left with the impression that we’re going backwards under Gregor Townsend.
Vern Cotter gave the side a more steely, competitive edge. Though, let’s face it, Scotland could hardly have been any less competitive in the years before he took over, whereas with Townsend it seems to be a case of boom or bust. That might be harsh on him and you could point to the home warm-up win over France as evidence of steeliness, but one minute I find myself thinking we could beat the Irish, top the group and give South Africa or New Zealand a serious run for their money in the last eight, and the next I’m contemplating the very real possibility of losing to Ireland and Japan and going home early. Much will depend on Finn Russell, possibly too much. I’m also hoping the Ireland players don’t complete a hat-trick of sneaky/mistimed hits on Stuart Hogg this year. James Calder
I’m approach the tournament with building expectation and hope. The Boks are many people’s pick for the title. Their squad depth is unrivalled and their preparation under Rassie Erasmus has been meticulous. I expect their first game, against New Zealand, to be part one of a double header that will culminate in the final. South Africa have the forward power to generate both quick ball and field position for them to unleash their burgeoning back line.
Handre Pollard is in the form of his life and will be one of the dominant players of the World Cup. At blindside flank Pieter-Steph Du Toit is already a candidate for world player of the year and can play a similar role to that of Juan Smith in the 2007 World Cup victory. Cheslin Kolbe has the potential to announce himself as a true superstar and be one of the stars of the World Cup. Fans across the world will be won over by his stepping ability and his huge courage. South Africa’s main weakness will be Faf De Klerk and Willie Le Roux, two players who waver from world class to dreadful. If either of them has an off day, it could cost the Boks hugely. Sam Kantorowich
I don’t have much hope really, but just want one positive result in our four games to show the amazing development rugby is having in Uruguay. I’m looking forward to watching Juan Cat, Santiago Civetta and Manuel Leindekar. Juan Laffitte
Our hopes are simply to win one or two matches. Of our opponents in the pool – England, France, Argentina and Tonga – I realistically think we can beat Tonga and then produce another highlight, like we did in 2007 against South Africa. We can expect to come up against a second or third XV against England and maybe Argentina, but France will want to give their first team a run so we’ll have a hard time of it there. Tonga is the game we are setting our sights on. The boys are up for the challenge and won’t lack spirit. Brendan Carey
This year could be our year. I’m not reading too much into the warm-up games. Warren Gatland knows what he is doing to ensure we are in the best possible frame of mind for the start of the tournament. Losing Gareth Anscombe was a huge blow and, if Rhys Patchell misses out we’ll be very thin at No 10, but Dan Biggar knows how to play on the biggest stage and his kicking game is second to none. With Alun Wyn Jones leading from the front, George North on the wing, and a resurgent Jonathan Davies in the side, I expect us to beat all of the northern hemisphere sides. That just leads to the big three and, on our day, we are finally ready to dispatch them. Will Davies