Three times world champions New Zealand are favorites for 2019 Rugby World Cup. But they will have to keep close eye on Ireland. World number one ranked All Blacks had a seesaw year in 2018 with highs and lows. World No. ranked Irish side had defeated New Zealand 16-9 in Autumn Internationals 2018 at Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Steve Hansen’s All Blacks have now lost two out of three last games played against Joe Schmidt’s Irish team. Johnny Sexton, Ireland vice-captain played important role in the wins. Ireland have revealed that there are some weakness in New Zealand’s arsenal in a long while. This opens up the stacks for the Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan.
All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen said: “As of now they are the number-one team in the world. So if you want to make them World Cup favourites, go ahead. I guess they are favourites.”
New Zealand top the World Rugby Rankings, closely followed by Ireland. While other top Rugby Union teams like Wales, England, South Africa, Australia and Scotland are trailing closely behind. It is hard to think of a World Cup like the 2015 edition, when all four semi-finalists came from the southern hemisphere.
This comes after All Blacks lost 34-36 against South Africa in September 2018 at Wellington, thus ending 15-match winning streak by New Zealand. It was first loss at home by All Blacks versus an international Rugby Union side since 2009, apart from defeat against British and Irish Lions in 2017. New Zealand are ruling the World Rugby scene since their third Rugby World Cup title win in 2015. All Blacks are double defending champions as they had won RWC edition at their home turf in 2011. New Zealand were also world champions of the inaugural Rugby World Cup in 1987.
South Africa coach Rassie Erasmus said: “We’ve shown on the day when everything’s aligned and the guys are all in the same frame of mind, we can beat the All Blacks away and win a series against England”.
“It’s wide open,” he said of the World Cup. “I’ve been involved in World Cups since 1995, but really this one I couldn’t put money on who’s going to be in the semi-finals.”
All Black Sonny Bill Williams has proposed that he may continue playing after next year’s Rugby World Cup. It was thought that Williams would probably draw the curtain on his stellar rugby profession in Japan, with other promises such as family and study now taking up more of his time. But the 51-test veteran told the Sydney Morning Herald that he still energy to play test rugby and would even reflect looking into rugby league proposals.
“I’ve enjoyed the process so far,” he said. “And I have to think about what I will do in the future. I am positioning myself in case that becomes an option. I am enjoying doing a bit of studying and keeping my brain going in a different way.
“The last couple of years have been tough with injury, but I still have the fire inside me. I still feel fresh.
“I’m not sure if league is in my future at 33 [but] if there are offers, I will examine it with my family and go from there.”
The 33-year-old code hopping superstar tackled off against Australian Bachelorette winner Stu Laundy in a four, two-minute round charity boxing bout on Saturday night, in an event called ‘The Banger Under the Hanger’.
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Wales beaten Scotland 21-10 in the 2018 Autumn Internationals match at Principality Stadium (Millennium Stadium) in Cardiff, Wales. Stephen Leigh Halfpenny spearheaded much of the Welsh attack on Scottish side. Adam Hastings played a significant part in Scotland resistance. It is 10th victory in a row for Wales against regular opponents Scotland. Wales have won their opening match of End of Year Rugby Tests for the first time since defeating Romania 40-3 in Autumn Internationals 2002. This victory is perfect start for Wales national Rugby Union team preparations of Rugby World Cup 2019.
Wales full back Leigh Halfpenny scored 1st three penalties in first half. His hat-trick of penalties happened in 4′, 14′, 22′ respectively. Scottish fly half Adam Hastings scored a 25’ penalty. Welsh winger George North made a 29’ m try. Scotland captain Stuart McInally converted a driving line-out to grab a 34’ c try. Adam Hastings converted this to 36’ penalty. Wales were leading on 14-10 at the break time.
Welsh centre Jonathan Davies recorded a 47’ c try. Halfpenny was able to convert it on 48’ m. Scotland attacked continuously but Wales defence stopped their efforts. Scottish side could not score in the second half. Wales won the game 21-10 against Scotland. It was first opening win for Wales at the Millennium Stadium since defeating Samoa 50–6 in 2000. Wales national rugby team will look to carry this momentum in Welsh preparation for RWC in Japan.
Scotland team were heartbroken on the loss as it is setback to Scottish preparations for RWC 2019. Head Coach Gregor Townsend, said: “I think we didn’t start with the energy and the accuracy that is required in a game like this against a very good opponent. That was a game that we had enough pressure, territory and opportunities to win.”
Wales Vs Scotland 21-10
3 November 2018 – Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Wales Wales: 21 Try: North 29’ m, Davies 47′ c Con: Halfpenny (1/2) 48′ Pen: Halfpenny (3/3) 4′, 14′, 22′ Scotland: 10 Try: McInally 34′ c Con: Hastings (1/1) 36′ Pen: Hastings (1/1) 25′