Excitement continues to build ahead of the start of the Rugby World Cup later this month. This will be just the ninth edition of the tournament, in which Japan are set to host for the first time. This will also be the first time the tournament has been held in Asia and can be expected to be a memorable occasion. The tournament is scheduled to start on the 20th of September before finishing on the 2nd of November, with the final taking place at the Nissan Stadium in Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture.
There were 12 automatic qualifiers for the tournament, which was worked out on the basis that they came in the top three of their respective pools during the 2015 tournament held in England. These teams were: New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Argentina, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, France, England, Georgia, Japan and Italy. New Zealand continue to be very well supported by punters using the latest UK bonus offers, which is little surprise as they are three time winners of the competition including the last two in succession. They again head in as the clear team to beat.
Russia were then the next team to qualify, as they are the highest ranked European side in the Rugby Europe Championship, behind Georgia who had automatic qualification. Both Tonga and Fiji also joined as qualified sides through being the top two finishers in the Pacific Nations Cup.
Samoa had come bottom in the Pacific Nations Cup, but booked their place in the World Cup by beating Germany in a play-off. The USA also qualified by beating Canada in a two match playoff. However, Canada, did also qualify through winning the Repechage tournament. The other two sides to make the World Cup were Uruguay and Namibia.
The 20 sides who qualified have been divided into four groups of five, with the top two sides in each group progressing through to the quarter-finals. Pool A sees hosts Japan face off against Ireland, Scotland, Russia and Samoa. Japan will kick start the tournament against Russia, in a game they will be expected to win.
Pool B is then all about defending champions New Zealand, who face off against South Africa, Italy, Namibia and Canada. The first two mentioned are two of the outright favourites for the trophy and it would be a major shock were either to fail to progress through. They will also kick start Pool B as they face off inside the International Stadium Yokohama on the 21st of September.
Pool C sees 2003 winners England, face off against France, Argentina, United States and Tonga. France and Argentina open Pool C, in what is expected to be the key battle to qualify as runners-up, with England strong favourites to progress through as winners.
The final Pool D has another two of the outright favourites in Wales and Australia, as they face off against Georgia, Fiji and Uruguay. The first two mentioned will be expected to progress through to the knockout stages, with their key matchup coming on the 29th of September inside the Tokyo Stadium, Chofu.