The top rugby nations in the world collide in Japan for the 2019 Rugby World Cup next September. Online sportsbooks have updated their odds for each pool for the tournament and leading the pack in Pool A is Ireland at -400.
Bovada has Ireland opening as the -400 favorite to win Pool A followed by Scotland at +300, Japan at +2000 and Any Other at +25000.
It’s Ireland’s Pool to lose
Ireland has been on a tear lately. Since November 2017, the team has posted a record of 10-1 with its only loss coming against Australia on June 9. Since the 2015 Rugby World Cup, the nation is 22-8-1. Additionally, Ireland has had strong records against its fellow pool mates, going 2-1 vs Scotland and 2-0 vs Japan.
The Shamrocks have swept the pool stages in the last two World Cups, going a perfect 8-0 over that span. However, of the eight-ever World Cups, only twice has Ireland been a pool winner, in 2011 and 2015. The Shamrocks are a combined 7-1 against Russia and Samoa, the remaining teams in Pool A for the 2019 World Cup. Overall, Ireland has advanced to the quarterfinal in every World Cup except for 2007 when it went 2-2 in the pool stage, getting outscored 82-64.
Ireland will be anchored by veteran captain hooker Rory Best, who has over 200 caps and has been involved in three World Cups. Best was named the captain of the club after Paul O’Connell retired in 2016. In addition to Best, Ireland has a tremendous fly-half in Johnny Sexton, who has a good boot and great playmaking ability. The biggest obstacle Ireland needs to get through is its defense. Although the nation has been dominating in possession, it has surrendered tries on the outside due to its clog-the-middle style of defense. Expect nothing less than Ireland once again appearing in the quarterfinal.
Can Scotland edge out Ireland?
Although Scotland is a step behind Ireland, it is the only club in Pool A that could pose a threat. Scotland has made it to at least the quarterfinal in every World Cup except for 2011 when it had a 2-2 record in the pool stage. But it hasn’t made it past the quarterfinal since the 1991 World Cup when it finished fourth overall.
Since the 2015 World Cup, Scotland has been fairly decent, holding an 18-11 record. Over that span, it went 1-2 against Ireland, 2-0 vs Japan and 1-0 vs Samoa for a 4-2 record vs Pool A opponents in the upcoming World Cup. The biggest victory, of course, is against Ireland, coming at the Six Nations in 2017, a 27-22 home win for Scotland. Ireland bounced back in 2018 and put a thumping on Scotland 28-8 on its home turf.
Scotland has a favorable draw for the 2019 World Cup and its matchup with Ireland in the tournament opener for both nations really sets the table for the entire pool. The winner will be in the driver’s seat to win it outright.
Here's a look at the odds to win Pool A at the 2019 Rugby World Cup:
Odds at Bovada as of August 15