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The world's media have been quiet in stories about the Men's Rugby World Cup that begins Friday, September 20 in Japan. Admittedly, the recent FIFA Women's Soccer World Cup pushed all international sports coverage to the back burner.
But now with the ending of celebratory ticker tape parade in downtown Manhattan for the USA Women, it is time to turn attention to the next global sports event, the RWC 2019.
Word out of Japan has been universally praiseworthy regarding the nation's extensive preparations for the quadrennial rugby tournament. And, ticket sales, not only to Japanese, have surpassed original expectations, especially, from foreign visitors, many of whom, will travel a long distance.
The sole World Rugby concern a few months' ago cautioned the Japanese Rugby Federation about the possibility of running out of beer. The local breweries - Asahi, Kirin, Sapporo, Orion, and Suntory - increased their supply to meet the rugby fan demand.
The upcoming ninth iteration of the RWC that first began in 1987 will welcome twenty nations to the four pools of five countries. Canada won the repechage as the 20th side entered.
The All Blacks, winners of the two last events (New Zealand 2011 and England 2015), and three RWC cups total, are the betting odds favorites to three-peat.
Here's how the top nine fifteens have fared in Test matches since the last World Cup:
Team Won Lost Percentage
New Zealand 36 5 .87
England 31 8 .79
Ireland 29 10 .74
Wales 27 13 .68
Scotland 21 16 .57
South Africa 18 19 .49
Australia 14 16 .47
France 12 24 .33
Argentina 8 39 .22
The three prime questions:
- Can any side beat the All Blacks?
- Will Ireland win their first ever-quarterfinal match?
- Can the USA beat Tonga in the most competitive RWC pool? (England, France, Argentina, Tonga, and the USA)