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Pool B (World Ranking and Betting Odds)
South Africa (4) 5-1
Scotland (10) 300-1
Samoa (12) 500-1
Japan (14) 2,500-1
USA (16) 3,000-1
Pool Ranking Average: 11.2
Past RWC Performances:
Team Winner Runner Up 3rd 4th Total
South Africa 2 0 1 0 3 (Five cups)
Scotland 0 0 0 1 1
Total 2 0 1 1 4
Overview: Boks are the only possible title contender but they have struggled all year to achieve victories. The Scotland-Samoa contest (October 10, and last game for both teams) looks the most interesting, as the winner should advance into quarterfinals. And, again, for the USA vs. Japan (October 11) in the fourth game of the Pool, this will probably represent the sole 2015 RWC win for one nation.
South Africa lost all three Southern Hemisphere Championship games (NZ 24-20, Australia 22-19), including their first loss ever to Argentina (37-25). Last fall's test tour to Europe witnessed losses to Ireland and Wales. Scotland were the wooden spoon bottom dwellers in this year's Six Nations Championship. USA beat Japan twice this year.
Inside the Matches
South Africa will benefit from lots of fans coming up from Capetown and Johannesburg, and also many ex-pats living in the UK. Another advantage is that the Springboks should face the runner up in Pool A (England, Wales, or Australia), which will have experienced a rough and tumble two-match scuffle with other top-tier XVs, while South Africa will be well rested from easier pool play. Scotland would be a local and sentimental favorite to make it into the quarters.
The luck of the draw for South Africa places them in a weak pool without serious competition. The team still features recognizable, world-class names like Brian Habana, Handre Pollard, and Willie le Roux. The path to the final for South Africa is first to handle the top trio powerhouses of England, Wales, and Australia.