For every rugby fan around the world, the best week of 2019 is here. It’s the start of the eighth Rugby World Cup, the first tournament to be staged in Asia.

Of all the World Cups, the 2019 edition is the hardest to predict, as any one of the top Northern and Southern hemisphere teams are in with a chance to take the crown home on November, 2nd.

In the first edition of a two-part series, UCFB Multimedia Sports Journalism graduate Myles McDevitt, previews the chances of each home nations side potentially lifting The Webb Ellis Cup in Japan.


Four years ago, it all went wrong for England; having been dumped out of their own World Cup at the group stages, they lacked quality and a sense of direction.

Step forward Eddie Jones, the man has shaken English rugby to the core and has delivered two Six Nations titles during his tenure as coach. His time in charge has certainly been a rollercoaster ride, but England look sharp heading into the tournament after cruising to a 35-3 victory over Tonga in Sapporo on Sunday.

After winning three of their four warmup games, the Red Rose are favourites to top their pool, which includes France and Argentina, and as the tournament starts, the prospect of taking the trophy home for the second time in their history is certainly an achievable goal.

The country’s cricket and football teams have set the bar high with their recent successes, so Jones’ side will be looking to replicate that.

Players to watch

Maro Itoje made his England debut against Italy after the last World Cup and has been a huge fixture in the second row since. His towering presence in the line-out has proved a nightmare for the opposition. Part of an all-conquering Saracens side in the Premiership, he will be England’s go-to man in the forwards, especially during crucial matches with France and Argentina.

A prominent fixture in England’s side and regarded as one of the best wingers in the world, Jonny May’s blistering pace makes him a constant threat in attack. He recently blitzed to a hat-trick earlier this year versus fellow pool opponents France, and he’ll be looking to kick on further should England progress into the knockout stages.



Wales’ World Cup history is mixed. In the past two tournaments they have reached the knockout stages, but have suffered a number of shock defeats which have led to early exits in both 1991 and 2007, after falling victim to Samoa and Fiji.

However, after their Grand Slam triumph earlier this year, Wales will be aiming for further glory ahead of head coach Warren Gatland’s departure at the end of the tournament. Gatland departs his position after a 11-year tenure; his troops face Australia, Georgia, Fiji, and Uruguay, in a pool which they will be expected to top.

Players to watch

Forward, Ross Moriarty, is a strong presence in a talented Welsh pack. He has been capped 34 times for Wales, is a superb tackler and is highly effective in the breakdown. If Wales are to progress into the tournament’s latter stages, Moriarty will be a huge part of that.

Liam Williams is arguably one of the world’s greatest full-backs. His versatility and breath-taking speed will be key to Wales’ attacking plays, and if he performs, they are destined for greatness in Japan.