RWC - Pool Previews
This is the only pool where the 2 qualifiers seem preordained. I would consider it a major shock if Italy beat NZ or France. Italy seem unlikely to not finish 3rd, as the other 2 teams are genuine minnows.
So the questions remains what would a defeat in game 1 mean for NZ or France?
Given NZ have just been comprehensively thrashed by SA, I couldn't see the NZ coaching staff and players recovering from another hiding, even if the campaign would not be over. A narrow loss might not be the end of things. France will want to start the tournament well, as they made a mare of 2007 - finishing 2nd in pool which meant a ¼ final in Cardiff rather than Paris, then losing to a very average England in Paris after disposing of NZ. Poitrenaud gifting England a try early on.
I can only see 3 results: a French thrashing or a narrow victory to either side.
I can't see Scotland beating SA, but they are capable of beating Ireland IMO. Theoretically possible to come down to points difference if the 3 big teams win 1 and lose 1 against each other.
Ireland vs Scotland in week 5 is probably the crunch game. But if SA lost to Scotland, the SA vs Irish game would be massive.
Tonga deserve respect and could probably knock over Scotland on their day, but I think they will finish ahead of Romania
Probably the most intriguing pool. Fiji have never had a better chance! Georgia would also love to be taken more seriously.
Other than the games involving Portugal, this should be a decent series of games.
Wales vs Fiji in Week 1 and Australia vs Fiji in Week 2 will probably go a long way to deciding things. There is also Aust vs Wales in week 3.
IMO the only certainty is that Argentina will get out of the pool, potentially undefeated. Japan seem to have faded recently and England are in all sorts of bother.
If England lose to Argentina in week 1, they will be under massive pressure, especially given their next match is vs Japan who will have disposed of Chile.
Samoa have a chance here, but I fancy the 2 big nations to get through.