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Rugby World Cup 2019: Crystal ball predictions for champions, best player and much more

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19th September, 2019
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It’s here. After four years of waiting, the 2019 Rugby World Cup starts tonight when hosts Japan begin the tournament against Russia.

While this week’s tips were covered by Brett McKay and the rest of the panel yesterday (and if you haven’t yet, be sure to join The Roar’s Rugby World Cup tipping comp), it’s time to get some predictions in for the entire tournament before it gets underway.

Here’s the good oil on Japan 2019 from our stable of rugby know-it-alls.

Geoff Parkes

Expert
Player of the tournament: Ardie Savea (New Zealand)
Breakout player(s): James Ryan (Ireland) and Semi Radradra (Fiji)
Wallabies result: Semi-final loss
Something that definitely will happen: Fiji beating Wales to make the quarter-finals.
Something that definitely won’t happen: World Rugby issuing revised world rankings after each match. When Georgia beat Uruguay by more than 25 points and go to no.1, World Rugby will issue a statement acknowledging that the system “needs a few tweaks”.
Runners-up: Ireland
Champions: New Zealand

Brett McKay

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Expert
Player of the tournament: Beauden Barrett (New Zealand)
Breakout player: Frank Lomani (Fiji)
Wallabies result: Semi-finals
Something that definitely will happen: An upset in the first week – my eye is on Namibia over Italy.
Something that definitely won’t happen: There won’t be a single contentious TMO decision before the knockout stage; they’ll be saving them up for when it really matters.
Runners-up: Heart says Australia, head says South Africa.
Champions: Originally proposed members of the Australian Federation, the Colony of New Zealand.

Beauden Barrett All Blacks New Zealand Rugby Union 2017

(AAP Image/SNPA, Dianne Manson)

Harry Jones

Guru
Player of the tournament: Handre Pollard (South Africa), because he’ll score the most points, and he’ll score the last points.
Breakout player: George Bridge (New Zealand). The new Dagg?
Wallabies result: Top their pool. Just miss the final. Four more Cheika years.
Something that definitely will happen: A streaker in the rain, drop goals, and the rush defence.
Something that definitely won’t happen: High scores between the Celtic nations.
Runners-up: New Zealand, because they have doubts, but no Guzzler.
Champions: Springboks, because of their edges in confidence, goal-kicking, pace, and power.

Nobrain

Guru
Player of the tournament: Someone English. Manu Tuilagi if he manages to stay healthy. Failing that, Maro Itoje.
Breakout player: Sevu Reece (New Zealand). He’ll also be the leading tryman of the tournament.
Wallabies result: Fourth, eliminated by one of England, New Zealand or South Africa.
Something that definitely will happen: Controversial cards being handed out that will be the talk of the entire tournament and for a long time afterwards.
Something that definitely won’t happen: Empty stadiums.
Runners-up: England
Champions: South Africa

Springboks scrumhalf Faf de Klerk

(Photo by Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images)

Olly Matthews

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Guru and live blogger
Player of the tournament: Faf de Klerk (South Africa)
Breakout player(s): Tom Curry (England), Jack Conan (Ireland)
England result: Make the final
Something that definitely will happen: Owen Farrell getting yellow carded.
Something that definitely won’t happen: Discussion about a Nations Championship between World Cups ending.
Runners-up: England
Champions: South Africa

Diggercane

Guru
Player of the tournament: Richie Mo’unga (New Zealand)
Breakout player: Sevu Reece (New Zealand)
Wallabies result: An admirable semi-final exit.
Something that definitely will happen: An individual will score five tries in one match.
Something that definitely won’t happen: No red cards.
Runners-up: South Africa
Champions: New Zealand

Richie Mo'unga of the All Blacks

(Photo by Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images)

Connor Bennett

Editor
Player of the tournament: Owen Farrell (England)
Breakout player: Sevu Reece (New Zealand). Will leave Japan with a bag of meat pies.
Wallabies result: Semi-finals. Will get past Wales in the pool stage before falling to the New Zealand in the semis.
Something that definitely will happen: One team will rack up 100 points in a single game.
Something that definitely won’t happen: A northern hemisphere side making the final.
Runners-up: South Africa
Champions: New Zealand

Ben Conkey

Editor
Player of the tournament: Aaron Smith (New Zealand)
Breakout player: Demba Bamba (France)
Wallabies result: Quarter-finals
Something that definitely will happen: Everyone falling in love with an underdog team.
Something that definitely won’t happen: Joe Marler going through the entire tournament without being accused of foul play.
Runners-up: Ireland
Champions: New Zealand

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Daniel Jeffrey

Editor
Player of the tournament: Owen Farrell (England). The glue-guy for England. If the Red Roses go well – and I think they will – it’s going to be on the back of a standout tournament from their skipper.
Breakout player: Sbu Nkosi (South Africa). A fantastic finisher, Nkosi’s pace will be all the more eye-catching and important given Aphiwe Dyanti’s absence for the Boks. Although I’ve not been helped by him being overlooked for South Africa’s opener.
Wallabies result: Quarter-finals. Wales will be too strong in defence in the pool stage, setting up a quarter-final against England which I can’t see Australia winning.
Something that definitely will happen: Fans and commentators complaining about the referee after a loss.
Something that definitely won’t happen: Our friends from the home unions handling the hot Japanese weather well.
Runners-up: South Africa. The Springboks have gone back to playing the rugby that’s in their DNA under Rassie Erasmus. Strong recent form – including against the All Blacks – has them primed for a run to the final.
Champions: New Zealand. Still the most complete rugby team on the planet.