SA optimistic about Boks’ WC chances

2014-09-18 00:00

CAPE TOWN — Do the Springboks offer the best value a year out from the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England and Wales?

Optimism is at an all-time high in South Africa, despite the Boks’ 14-10 defeat to New Zealand in their Rugby Championship Test in Wellington last Saturday.

That belief stems in main from the consensus that we’ve found our long-term starting flyhalf — Handré Pollard — to lead us to World Cup glory.

Pollard (20) stepped into Morné Steyn’s boots with aplomb at the Westpac Stadium, and is widely seen as the “next big thing” in not only SA rugby, but world rugby. Coupled with the fact that the tournament will take place on “neutral” territory for the top-three IRB ranked teams, gives us cause for optimism exactly one year and one day out from the tournament.

The All Blacks have rightly been installed as favourites to defend the Webb Ellis Cup at 15/10, while hosts England (7/2) are seen as second favourites. Heyneke Meyer’s team have been listed at an enticing 4/1 by SA bookies BetFlash, while the Wallabies can be backed at 8/1. Wales (11/1), France (13/1) and Ireland (14/1) are the best of the rest.

The Springboks find themselves in Pool B for the tournament, which, according to the latest IRB rankings, is the second toughest.

The Boks will battle Japan in their opening match (Saturday, September 19) before taking on Samoa (Saturday, September 26), Scotland (Saturday, October 3) and USA (Wednesday, October 7).

Then things turn potentially nasty for the Boks.

While they should have no trouble topping their pool, that will mean a quarter-final against whoever finishes second in Pool A.

Pool A, or the pool of death, contains England, Australia and Wales. One of those countries, won’t even progress to the playoffs, while whoever finishes as the runner-up, has a mouthwatering quarter-final date with the Boks at Twickenham on Saturday, October 17.

Should the Boks come through that match unscathed, they face a semi-final against the winner of the All Blacks v France/Ireland (in all likelihood) clash.

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