We all love a bet, don’t we? (Under 18s, turn away now)
I like the odd flutter and whilst it’s difficult to look past NZ winning the RWC, there must be something out there worth betting on, right?
Maybe, but you have to dig a little deeper in the Pool stages.
Pools B (South Africa at 1/11) and C (NZ at 1/40) aren’t even worth looking at for group winners, but what about the runners-up?
In Pool B, for example, we can rule out USA and Japan (despite Eddie Jones’ claims HERE) but where would your allegiances, and money, lie between Samoa and Scotland? At 14/1 and 16/1 respectively, neither will win the group, but to reach the QF Samoa are Evens and Scotland are 8/11.
Still not very enticing for a coin flip game between the two.
So what of Pool C, removing NZ? Some value here maybe? Possibly, depending on whether you’re as down on Argentina as some are. Former England centre Will Greenwood believes Argentina are one of 8 teams who could win the WC but I believe they could be the biggest casualty of the group stages. Although Tonga are the weakest of the Pacific Islanders, they’re 5/1 to reach the QF and they beat France in the 2011 version.
In Pool D, there’s nothing to think that Italy, Canada or Romania will cause an upset, other than amongst themselves. That leaves Ireland or France. Ireland are the highest ranked NH team going into this World Cup and for good reason. They should see off France to win the group but the French are, well, the French! I know if I was a Kiwi looking at potential QF opponents, I’d rather France topped the table! At 8/5, they’re definitely the best value of the potential group winners.
You might’ve noticed I’ve missed a Pool. I’m a man of pessimism and I rarely bet on my own teams. On the rare occasion I bet on my football team, I always go for 1-1!
So yes, Pool A.
To win the pool:
I’m sorry Welsh fans, I can’t see you topping the pool. It might go to points difference, where there is possibly an edge for the Welsh, but realistically they’re going to have to beat both England and Australia to win the pool. Not unrealistic, but not for me. I might be tempted on a little flutter at Wales to reach the QF at around 5/6, if only to soften the blow of England potentially being the ones left behind!
If you forced my hand, my money on Pool A would go on a forecast of Australia/England at 10/3. Still little value when you consider three games are so tough to call.
What the early stages do provide though, is a head start in the Top Try-scorer race.
The most obvious candidates are Julian Savea and Ben Smith, of NZ. There’s a good chance they’ll sit out at least one group game, but NZ averaged 60 points per game during the 2011 group stages and it’s hard to imagine less this time around. These two could have a big lead in the race by the time the QF start.
You can get Savea (30 tries in 33 tests) at 6-1 and Smith (18 tries in 40 tests) at 12/1. Most e/w markets are top 4 at ¼ odds. Ben Smith to be in the top 4 try scorers at basically 3/1 is like printing money.
For a longer shot, I’m going with one of the Ireland wingers. Whilst the France game is tough, matches versus Italy, Canada and Romania should see plenty of points. Following that, Ireland are likely to face a QF against Argentina or Tonga… And a bucket more points. With Bowe at 28/1 and Trimble/Zebo both at 33/1, I can see good e/w value there.
I’m going with:
Tonga to reach the Q/F – 5/1
Wales to reach the Q/F – 5/6 (purely a safety net bet!)
Ben Smith top Try-scorer – 12/1 (e/w)
Ireland winger top Try-scorer – 28-33/1 (e/w) – I’ll pick which one when I know who is in the squad!
To get a different view, and one from an outsider, I asked Paul Darville (@cpfcpatriot) who is the tipster on The Eagles Beak (@TheEaglesBeak) to give me some thoughts. Although not a regular rugby fan, I asked him to look at where he thought you might find some value…
“I’m not getting very far with it!! I’m realising I know very little about rugby!
The best value I’ve seen is Argentina +26 vs the All Blacks at 10/11 (Peter: last 10: Average margin of NZ victory 21.2 points, 8 of ten have seen NZ win by 23 or under), and that the South Africans look good value each way at 13/2.
I also thought 4/1 on NZ to exit at the bottling semis stage seemed reasonable value.
Bryan Habana (59 tries in 100 tests) could be a good bet for top Try-scorer at 12/1. If SA get going against the Scots, Japan and the USA, then he could put up high numbers. Savea is still an e/w proposition but way too short at 6/1, which would lead me towards Ma’a Nonu (29 tries in 97 tests) at 16/1 as another option.
And finally, I’m going to take a punt on the 2 finalists as being Ireland and South Africa at 12/1. If the Irish can top their group, they should secure a relatively easy task in the runners-up of the NZ group followed by likely Australia or England. South Africa will face a more difficult route once they qualify from their simpler group but should be able to come through their group unscathed and somewhat fresher than others.”
So, where is your money going?*
*Gamble responsibly, etc…