Hollywoodbets Sports Blog: Rugby World Cup: Pool C Preview

Rugby World Cup: Pool C Preview

During the Personal Rugby Championship , Los Pumas and All Blacks at the Estadio Jose Amalfitani Stadium
Augustin Creevy

Darry Worthington takes a look at the Rugby World Cup's Pool C group which is set to be one of the most competitive at the tournament.

Pool C for the 2019 Rugby World Cup will be one of the most competitive with heavyweights England, France and Argentina pitted alongside minnows the United States and Tonga.

While the three tier-one nations will more than likely battle it out for top honours, the two minnow sides will play a crucial role as bonus points and points differential are likely to decide who claims the runners-up berth.

Photo Copyright Steve Haag - Hollywoodbets 


To Win Pool
England 7/20
France 9/2
Argentina 9/2
United States 350/1
Tonga 500/1

England
2015 Finish: Pool Phase Exit

A lot has changed since England bowed out o their home tournament at the pool phase just four years ago. Head coach, Eddie Jones has overseen a revolution and the English may well be able to repeat the feats of the 2003 World Cup-winning squad.

Like I mentioned above, England are real competitors this year. They have a very handy squad who play a fantastic yet calculated brand of rugby. They are able to adapt their game depending on opponents and conditions, which will be vital in this group.

Another thing that England have in their favour is Eddie Jones' knowledge of Japanese culture as well as the facilities and transportation systems. While this seems like a minuscule advantage, it is actually rather key as Japan isn't the easiest place in the world to navigate when it comes to both Geography and culture.

In terms of their pool phase opponents, England have enjoyed solid results over both Argentina and France in recent years beating the Argentines 21-8 when they two sides last locked horns back in 2017, while they have won seven of their last ten games against the French with their most recent victory being a 44-8 win in this year's Six Nations.

Key Player: Owen Farrell
While x-factor players such as Joe Cokanasiga may make the headlines during the early phase, Saracens pivot Owen Farrell will be the one who gets the English through this pool. His versatility - he can play at either ten or 12 - will be crucial to the English cause as will his accurate goal-kicking.

France
2015 Finish: Quarter-Finals Exit

The French are probably the most dangerous team when it comes to a World Cup as they tend to take their game up ten notches during the global showpiece. They will need to do that this year again as they have failed to really impress since they crashed out at the quarter-final stage of the last World Cup.

A lot of bold decisions have been made by the French during the build-up to Japan 2019 with head coach Jaques Brunel - who only took over the national coaching reigns in 2017 - omitting stalwarts such as Mathieu Bastareaud and Morgan Parra from his World Cup squad in favour of younger stars.

For my money, Brunel has made the right choice in giving younger layers a go as the French Under 20's have been stellar for the past two years, producing some excellent players.

Unlike England, France have a poor recent record against Argentina with the French losing two of the last three games between the sides. They did have the edge of their opponents in the last clash, as they ran out 0-27 victors back in 2016.

Key Player: Camile Lopez
The Clermont fly-half has come on in leaps and bounds over the past few years and is likely to be the cog in this French machine. He's a great distributor of the ball which is exactly what the French need to get their electric outside backs going.

Argentina
2015 Finish: Fourth

Los Pumas may head into this World Cup off the back of some poor results but you can still expect Mario Ledesma's men to put up a massive fight in this Pool.

While they failed to win a game during the recently concluded Rugby Championship, they did give a slightly under-strength New Zealand side a run and also gave the Wallabies a couple of scares in Australia even though the Argentines sent a weakened squad over.

While they haven't got the results on the international stage this year it must be remembered that the Argentines Super Rugby franchise, who the majority of this Pumas squad plays for, did make it to this year's Super Rugby final, and beat a numbered of sides litter with Wallabies, Springboks and All Blacks on their way to doing so.

Key Player: Augustin Creevy
The talismanic hooker may not be as skilled as the likes of Nicolas Sanchez or Jeronimo De La Fuente but he is likely to have a bigger role to play than these two as the Argentine scrm needs during up. While he may not be able to have as much impact on the scrum as his prop, Creevy's power at the coalface will be key. His ability to pump up those next to him will also be vital as when the Argentine heavies get the bit between the teeth they do become almost unstoppable.

United States
2015 Finish: Pool Phase Exit

The States have been quietly becoming a far better rugby nation over the past few years with their Sevens side lifting up trees on the HSBC Circuit and their XV's team registering some impressive results over the past two years.

Key to the States wing in fortunes has been the appointment of former Natal Sharks and Worcester Warriors head coach, Gary Gold. Gold has managed to get his side playing to their traditional strengths, and he's been quick to address weaknesses bringing in former Springbok World Cup winner Jaque Fourie as a defence consultant.

The States have a very poor record against all the nations in their Pool and the last two meetings with Tonga, who are the only team they are likely to Challenge - ended in defeat. The last of these clashes was back in 2016, though, and the States are a far better side now than they were back then.

Key Player: AJ MacGinty
I know I'm picking out another fly-half as my key players but AJ MacGinty will be crucial to the Americans chances. He's one of the few real class players in the team and is vastly experienced having played a load of rugby out in Europe. His goal kicking could well be the difference when the States take on Tonga in the battle to avoid the wooden spoon.

Tonga
2015 Finnish: Pool Phase Exit


The physical Tongans realistically don't have a shot in hell of getting out of the group but they could well determine which of the Tier 1 nations exits the pool phase with the most number of casualties.

Of the three Pacific Island Nations at the tournament, the Tongans have the best pack. This comes at a price, however, as their backline are very limited and hardly ever capitalise off the solid foundation their big men lay.

The Islanders head into this one off of a very poor preparation period having only won one of the Pacific Nations Cup games - the result was far from convincing as well as they only claimed a ten-point victory over an exceedingly week Canadian side.

Key Player: Sam Louisi
The former Hurricanes lock gave up on his dreams of representing the All Blacks this year, which was great news for Tonga who have secured the services of a solid rugby player. The lock is a very mobile forward, who also has a slick set of hands as well as being a great lineout option.

Verdict: To Win Pool - England @7/20
I would have been tempted to have a go on Argentina a few months ago but the English have really hit their straps over the past month. They look a really good side and should have no problems topping the pool.

The dogfight for second should be an interesting one and I'm still inclined to back the Argentines despite France racking up some good warm-up results.


The battle to avoid last-place should go the Americans way which will leave Tonga at the foot of the pool come the knockout phase.


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