International

RWC 2019 : Form chart – How the movers and shakers are tracking

There are a mere 365 days to go until Japan face Russia when the 2019 Rugby World Cup kicks off in Tokyo.

We track the top-ranked sides, from powerful champions New Zealand down to the plucky hosts.

NEW ZEALAND (world ranking 1)
Last 10 games: 9W, 1L
The good news: Still stacked with the best players in the world including attacking backs other teams would die for.
The sore point: Constant pressure, extreme national expectations — it’s helped lead to famous World Cup chokes.
Key pool game: Fairly obvious…the first one against South Africa.
Coach rating: Steve Hansen — A (special knack with New Zealand’s finest)
Trending: Upwards, with a slight blip.

IRELAND (2)
Last 10 games: 9W, 1L
The good news: Pressure relief. Ireland still fly under the radar even as Six Nations champs and World No.2.
The sore point: Probably deserve more respect and attention than they get.
Key pool game: First up against Scotland — the only pool opponent capable of beating them.
Coach rating: Joe Schmidt — A-plus (meticulous miracle worker)
Trending: As good as they’ve ever been.

WALES (3)
Last 10 games: 7W, 3L
The good news: Piling up wins but…
The sore point: …without coming across as World Cup threats.
Key pool game: Australia…Wales have lost 13 in a row to the Wallabies, and won only once (1987) in six World Cup clashes
Coach rating: Warren Gatland — B (finding it hard to repeat earlier success)
Trending: Flatlining.

ENGLAND (4)
Last 10 games: 5W, 5L
The good news: Not a lot of late.
The sore point: The obsessive Eddie Jones personality has worn out its welcome.
Key pool game: Tonga — must start well or the rot could set in.
Coach rating: Eddie Jones — D (from messiah to a mess)
Trending: Badly.

RELATED:   Ireland top rankings going into World Cup

SOUTH AFRICA (5)
Last 10 games: 5W, 5L
The good news: They have the scariest pack and may have found their mojo against the All Blacks..
The sore point: An erratic history and confused playing philosophy.
Key pool game: Italy — upset potential although Italy will be poorly prepared by soft opening assignments.
Coach rating: Rassie Erasmus — B (would have been a D last week…we are such a fickle lot)
Trending: About to burst forth.

SCOTLAND (6)
Last 10 games: 6W, 4L
The good news: The quiet overachievers who have got a friendly World Cup pool.
The sore point: A lack of elite world class players.
Key pool game: Ireland — an opening upset would set them up perfectly
Coach rating: Gregor Townsend — B (promising work in progress, extra tick for actually being Scottish)
Trending: By world standards not great, by their standards very good.

AUSTRALIA (7)
Last 10 games: 3W, 7L
The good news: In very short supply but they have a great World Cup history./
The sore point: Volatile coach Michael Cheika under all sorts of pressure, a soft tight five.
Key pool game: Wales – easily the standout game in this group.
Key pool game: Fiji – Trip up time.
Coach rating: Michael Cheika — D (as in D for disaster)
Trending: Dropping fast.

FRANCE (8)
Last 10 games: 2W, 7L, 1D
The good news: Not a lot.
The sore point: Can’t win the close games…which includes a lucky draw with Japan in Paris a year ago.
Key pool game: England – could be do or die by then.
Coach rating: Jacques Brunel — C (old school charm lost in the new world)
Trending: Not even living on reputation anymore.

RELATED:   Eddie Jones set to be portrayed by Star Wars actor in movie about Japan's World Cup upset

ARGENTINA (9)
Last 10 games: 3W, 7L
The good news: Just when all seemed lost, the Pumas beat South Africa and Australia.
The sore point: Despite all the promise, can’t make the jump from B to A grade.
Key pool game: France – they have a strong record against their first oppnents
Coach rating: Mario Ledesma — C-minus (Argentina are stalling)
Trending: Arrested a slide for now.

FIJI (10)

Last 10 games: 7W, 3L

The good news: May now see themselves as genuine XV threats rather than sevens specialists.

The sore point: Resources…as always.

Key pool game: Wales — remember the high-scoring Nantes epic, 2007.

Coach rating: John McKee — B-plus (unheralded, underrated)

Trending: The new World Cup darlings.

JAPAN (11)
Last 10 games: 5W, 4L, 1D
The good news: Home advantage, improved fitness and memories of that win over South Africa in 2015.
The sore point: Hard to ignore hefty defeats against higher ranked countries
Key pool game: Samoa — to give the home crowd a late lift.
Coach rating: Jamie Joseph — B (a hard team to judge though)
Trending: Bobbing about as a World Cup curio.

 

Story – New Zealand Herald

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