Rugby World Cup Pool A: What the Wallabies are facing

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

It’s been dubbed the pool of death but what are the Wallabies really up against in their World Cup group?

ENGLAND

RANKING: 4

FORM: W France 19-14, L France 25-20, W Ireland 21-13

STRENGTH: Their scrummaging is among the best in the world and that will be where the host nation tests the Wallabies the most. England tighthead Dan Cole will lead the way for their pack and if they get on top of teams in the contested areas of the game, they will be very difficult to beat.

WEAKNESS: England’s discipline will be a concern for them going into the World Cup. They had issues in the Six Nations earlier this year with poor mental discipline, which cost them dearly against Ireland. They also need to be worried if games open up on them. They look far weaker in open, attacking matches than when games are played in tight, where they can control teams.

DANGER MAN: Jonathan Joseph was in scintillating form through England's Six Nations campaign and they'll be hoping for a similar form line from him in this tournament. The Bath centre has had a breakthrough season, winning the Players' Player award and the England Player of the Year at the Rugby Players' Association Awards.

WALES

RANKING: 5

FORM: L Ireland 21-35, W Ireland 16-10, W Italy 23-19

STRENGTH: Despite their spate of injuries, Wales’ attacking power will be enhanced with the players they’ve brought in, most notably potential scrum half Gareth Davies. Davies has had a mixed year but is regarded as one of Wales’ most potent attacking threats. Expect to see that come through as Warren Gatland adjusts the team's machinations to harness their new weapon.

WEAKNESS: The Welsh depth will be tested after injuries to Leigh Halfpenny and Rhys Webb. Those two are just the tip of the iceberg for Wales, though. h Davies (four caps) looms as Webb's likely replacment and veteran Mike Phillips are the main contenders and they’ll have big roles to play. Halfpenny’s initial replacement, Eli Walker was ruled out earlier this week with a hamstring injury, while fullback Liam Williams has not played since foot surgery earlier this year and will come into the tournament with a big question mark over his head.

DANGER MAN: Captain Sam Warburton has had four years to rue his 2011 semi-final red card that effectively cost his team a place in their first World Cup final. That will be burning inside the captain and he will almost definitely be seeking redemption.

FIJI

RANKING: 9

FORM: W Canada 47-18, W Samoa 39-29 (Pacific Nations Cup final)

STRENGTH: The Fijians are the dark horse of this group, coming in off the back of a 47-18 drubbing of Canada last month. They will batter sides with their size and their speed creating a fair amount of X-factor and unpredictability.

WEAKNESS: Fiji has in the past struggled to make an impact on the big stage. Previously a bit one-dimensional, they have not performed to the potential success that they've experienced with their sevens side. They need to be able to increase their consistency across all parts of the game.

DANGER MAN: Nemani Nadolo is the superstar. The Crusaders back and older brother of Queensland Reds' Chris Kuridrani has scored 21 tries in 27 appearances for the Canterbury team and looms as a major weapon for the island nation in the World Cup.

URUGUAY

RANKING: 22

FORM: W Argentina A 30-26, L Japan 30-8, L Japan 40- 0, W Basque Selection 41-19

STRENGTH: Similarly to their South American counterparts, Argentina, Uruguay’s set piece will be a key plank of any potential World Cup success. They are up against it in this group, though, and their pack has been weakened by the sudden international retirement of second rower Rodrigo Capo Ortega, the country’s sole fully professional player.

WEAKNESS: Their amateur status will not help the Uruguayans against some of the world’s best rugby sides. The minnow nation will certainly learn a lot and that will be valuable experience for them but they’re unlikely to be really competitive in many aspects.

DANGER MAN: In the absence of Ortega, captain Santiago Vilaseca will be the key for the Teros. Not only does he have an incredible name but the flanker will play a pivotal role for the team in the World Cup, as a leader and a player.

Join the discussion

Advertisement