Rugby World Cup 2019 Quarterfinals
The Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan has reached the knockout stages and the remaining 8 teams competing for RWC glory, and the chance of hoisting the Well Ellis trophy on November 2nd, take a step closer this weekend.
Match officials Rugby World Cup
Referees and match officials have been in the news as much as the games and the RWC 2019 itself. Like, everyone else, we hope the games on the weekend won’t be dominated by the rugby match officials.
Jérôme Garcès (France), Nigel Owens (Wales), Jaco Peyper (South Africa) and Wayne Barnes (England) will take charge of the four matches in Tokyo and Oita over the weekend. As the World Rugby statement said on announcing the match officials, the four referees have 285 test appearances between them.
RWC 2019: Saturday 19th October 2019
England vs Australia
The Australians have been mediocre at the World Cup and go into the game against England as underdogs. The inclusion of 19-year-old Jordan Petaia in the centres is the surprise move by Head coach Michael Cheika. Although he has also gone for experience in the pivotal 9-10 combination, Christian Lealiifano and Will Genia, only for the second time start together for the Wallabies. Samu Kerevi remains the danger man and the threat of David Pocock at the breakdown are concerns for the English.
The English team are a powerful threat across the park but the changes to the 23 for Saturday show they have worries about Australia’s attack. Ford has been dropped from number flyhalf berth, with Farrel taking over, but a strong centre combination was also named, with the ever-powerful threat of Manu Tuilagi in the midfield. Upfront England remains a real powerhouse and will look to dominate Australia at the set-piece.
- Match Referee: Jérôme Garcès (France)
Ireland vs New Zealand
There are no huge surprises in the Irish starting team, and the squad includes 12 players who started and beat New Zealand in Dublin in 2018. The Irish had a good campaign through the group stages but the loss to Japan was a bitter pill to take. Their coach, Joe Schmidt, has picked a tried and tested team to beat the fancied All Blacks, although we have yet to see the best from the team at RWC 2019, this is a solid team with a lot of experience.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has not selected either Ben Smith or Ryan Crotty in the matchday 23 which will come as a surprise. Regardless, the NZ team remain the favourites and the team to beat in 2019 and are still on course for a three-peat of RWC successes. Their final pool game was cancelled against Italy which may leave them slightly undercooked, but they did have an internal match to make up for it last week.
- Match Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
RWC 2019: Sunday 20th October 2019
Wales vs France
Wales go into the game as favourites are one of the few unbeaten teams left at RWC 2019. Although a few pundits are calling for the surprise resurgence of France in the QF game, this is the most mentally strong Welsh team there has been in the professional era. They have an extremely good defence and their best players are in the right positions to form the spine in the team.
France is another underperformer, not just at the RWC but for the past few years, however, their record at the Rugby World Cups is enough to make for restless nights for Warren Gatland and the Welsh team. They have some dynamic young playmakers and veterans in the team, although they have not done anything in the group stages to suggest they will upset the Six Nations Champions on the weekend.
- Match Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Japan vs South Africa
Japan is the fairytale story of the Rugby World Cup and it will be tough to find anyone, barring a Springbok supporter, who won’t be backing the Brave Blossoms on Sunday. Their wins over Ireland and Scotland may have caught people by surprise but this Japanese team have been in camp for most of 2019 and with an experienced and very smart coaching team, have been planning for this for a long time. This a fit team, playing excellent, fast rugby with some sublime skills, and the home fan advantage is worth a dozen points before the ball is touched.
Japanese players Kotaro Matsushima, Shota Horie, Luke Thompson and Michael Leitch were in the starting XV when Japan beat South Africa at RWC 2015. Keita Inagaki and Yu Tamura were on the bench that day.
The Springboks put away Japan fairly easily in the last warm-up game before RWC 2019 got underway, which would have gone some way to bury the ghosts of the Brighton defeat 4 years ago. The Boks were good for the first 20 minutes against the All Blacks in their first pool game but still lost and big wins over Nambia, Italy and Canada followed. They will look to a power and a possession game to dominate Japan but superstars like Cheslin Kolbe means they also are dangerous in attack.
- Match Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
World Rugby Rankings
This is how the teams enter the quarterfinal weekend based on their World Rugby Rankings.
- New Zealand
- South Africa
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