Before I wander into prognostications of the absurd, here is a link to the final rosters for the 20 teams in the World Cup:
Scan to the bottom of this webpage and click on the article that goes with each team’s name to see that countries 30 man roster.
Now back to who will win the World Cup.
If you’re going with the favorite, then by far that would be New Zealand. The best odds I could find (Aug. 26th) is 4/7 . A $7 bet will win you $4. Australia is the next favorite with odds of 9/2. A $2 bet will win you $9. Now if you are looking to make some money, here is the long shot …. Japan. A $1 bet will win you $5000. A $100 bet will make you half a million dollars.
There is a reason Japan is such a long shot, but for the sake of this article let’s say there is some logic to the idea that if Team A beats Team B and Team B beats Team C, then Team A will beat Team C. If we trace some recent game results we can stretch that logic to the point where Japan is in with a chance slightly better than that of the proverbial snowball in hell. All of the following scores happened since the beginning of July this year. On July 13th Japan beat Fiji 24-13. Four days earlier Fiji defeated Samoa 36-18. On the 17th of July Samoa beat Australia 32-23. Australia destroyed South Africa 39-20 on July 23rd and South Africa beat New Zealand 18 to 5 on the 21st of August. Thus there would seem on paper to be the chance that Japan could defeat Australia, South Africa, and New Zealand and lift the Webb Ellis Cup on Oct. 23rd.
Of course it is very unlikely that this will happen. Also the warm-up matches prior to a World Cup often have little that can be used to judge how a team will do once they enter the World Cup tournament.
The following teams have won a World Cup:
1987 – New Zealand
1991 – Australia
1995 – South Africa
1999 – Australia
2003 – England
2007 – South Africa
These teams are the top 4 contenders to once again lift the Webb Ellis Cup according to bookies. After these 4 teams the bookies like France (16/1) and Ireland (29/1). Note – Different bookies have different opinions and odds. France has had an uncanny knack for beating New Zealand in the World Cup knockout rounds doing this in the semi-final in 1999 and quarter-final in 2007. France is in the same pool as New Zealand for this World Cup. If they lose to NZ in the pool round of matches and finish 2nd in the pool (which is likely as the rest of the pool is not that strong even though it includes … Japan), they could come through the knock-out round quarter and semi-finals to face New Zealand again in the final. If that happens, would the All Blacks once again choke against Les Bleus? Ladbrokes currently list this as the second most likely final (odds 9/2) after New Zealand vs Australia (13/8). Only 5 teams have played in a World Cup final. France has played in 2, but never won the cup. Is this the year where the French save their knack for toppling the All Blacks until Oct. 23rd, the very last match?