2011 Rugby World Cup Tipping and Betting Guide

Is it 4 years already? Where have we come in the last 4 years then?

The All Blacks are peaking early, the Wallabies are full of promising youngsters and grizzled old hard heads, England are grinding out dull slogging wins and shocking losses, France are schizophrenic, Wales, Scotland and Ireland are making up the numbers and Argentina are unknown. So if everything old is new again then how's a punter or tipster going to know when to tip the upset or lay down a few hard earned? Well that's what this guide is for (didn't you read the title?):

It's a bad sign that a team that has qualified for the World Cup has a website that greets you with the message
'Welcome to NamibianRugby.com. Please be patient as we are in the process of rebuilding the site.'
If that's not enough the website is unofficial and not supported by the Namibian authorities (the NRU) and the IRB has taken over the NRU because of the organisation's "financial problems". Indeed the NRU is subject to corruption allegations. With omens such as these it's a wonder they even qualified, but then Zimbabwe is the next best ranked African team in the world at 35th so one must assume they didn't have much competition for the second African slot.
World Ranking: 20th
Official Price: $5,001  Rolling Maul Price: $1,000,001
World Cup Pool Opponents: South Africa, Wales, Fiji, Samoa
Prediction: Website will still be cactus by World Cup kick off and no-one will notice, much like their presence at the World Cup.

The Bears, as Russia's Rugby team are known, have improved markedly since qualifying for the 2007 World Cup and then being kicked out for fielding a number of players with strangely South African names. Unfortunately the same can't be said for the English version of their website. The Rolling Maul suspects that someone at the Rugby Union of Russia has put too much faith in the Google translator app, how else to explain this sentence in the report of their loss to Georgia: "On 50th minute of a match of an abacus became almost indecent - 6:24. And only after that "Russian bears" have woken up."
World Ranking: 19th
Official Price: $5,001  Rolling Maul Price: $1,000,001
World Cup Pool Opponents: Australia, Ireland, Italy, USA
Prediction: The Bears may wake up against the USA but expect the Russians to compete for a while before losing comprehensively this Cold War, just like the original one.

Alas the official Romanian Rugby website is only available in Romanian, so what works (sort-of) for the Russians might work for the Romanians, though in this case it's the Rolling Maul's turn to apply the Google translator. So what is learnt from the site? "Tana Umaga will support Romania in the stands at the World Cup ... Scottish inaugurates a special beer to match with Romania". So Romania can't find any Romanians to support them and their participation is celebrated with beer. All good, but for more of an insight into the deep and meaningful heart of Romanian Rugby check out this 'articol'. Translate it and it will leave you feeling good about all things Romanian Rugby but more than a little confused.
World Ranking: 18th
Official Price: $2,001  Rolling Maul Price: $1,000,001
World Cup Pool Opponents: Argentina, England, Scotland, Georgia
Prediction: Much Scottish beer will be drunk post-match irrespective of the result after which both teams won't need a Google translator.

The return of South Africa from apartheid isolation has not been kind to Canadian Rugby. Since making the quarter-finals in 1991 with wins over Romania and Fiji and running France close, they have generally won a match at every World Cup but never come close to the quarter-finals as South Africa removed the last chance for a minnow. So while 'Americas' qualifying for Canada means simply defeating the USA, something they do on a regular basis (but only went 1-match all this time around and got through via points difference) these American 'heavyweights' are doomed to battle for honour and not much else.
World Ranking: 16th
Official Price: $2,001  Rolling Maul Price: $1,000,001
World Cup Pool Opponents: New Zealand, France, Tonga, Japan
Prediction: Uh-Oh Canada.

It should be pretty obvious by now that the Rolling Maul knows little about most of the teams at the World Cup, but at least can claim to have seen Georgia play at the 2003 World Cup in Sydney. Back then they paraded around in a  fantastic burgundy jersey that was a best seller at the merchandise stands. Why they ditched that jersey for a pretty standard red number akin to Wales is a mystery but full credit must be given to the Georgians for the stirring patriotic anthem that greets visitors to their website. Ignore the rest of the website - it's bog standard and the history is in Georgian that even the translator can't handle, so their likely success or otherwise at the World Cup is a mystery. Can't wait for their anthem though.
World Ranking: 15th
Official Price: $2,001  Rolling Maul Price: $1,000,001
World Cup Pool Opponents: Argentina, England, Scotland, Romania
Prediction: Players will cry while singing the anthem, but that will be the highlight of their campaign.

Thank the International Olympic Committee for the USA not dominating World Rugby about now. After the USA won the gold medal at the Olympics in 1920 and 1924 it was removed as an Olympic sport (after all, none of the big nations sent anything like full international squads to compete - hence the USA victories). Since then Rugby has withered on a crowded sporting vine in the USA, has not qualified for every World Cup, and has only won two games ever (both against Japan) in the World Cup. Website-wise don't bother, but there is a section on Accident Insurance linked to the the home page which is enlightening and not in a  good way.
World Ranking: 17th
Official Price: $1,501  Rolling Maul Price: $1,000,001
World Cup Pool Opponents: Australia, Ireland, Italy, Russia
Prediction: No little Asians to intimidate in this pool (speaking from a position of authority having seen them beat - i.e. monster -  Japan in Gosford at the 2003 Cup)

The Rolling Maul was present for one of the USA's victories over Japan - at Gosford in 2003. Much like the Lilliputians trying to tackle Gulliver the Japanese buzzed around the hulking lumbering behemoths of the USA who more often than not swatted them away like flies. Still it was a competitive and well-spirited game but ultimately the Japanese were outmuscled. Japan have beaten the USA 5 times in their history (with thanks to Wikipedia) but never at the World Cup, indeed their only ever win was over Zimbabwe in 1991. But with a recent win in the Pacific Nations Cup, including victories over Tonga and Fiji, they've achieved their highest ever world ranking. Don't read too much into that though, the islanders were only fielding their domestic (non-European based) players, so expect more obscure metaphors and war stereotypes referring to the Japanese spirit and diminutive size.
World Ranking: 12th
Official Price: $1,001  Rolling Maul Price: $999,999
World Cup Pool Opponents: New Zealand, France, Tonga, Canada
Prediction: Strive to gain Rugby respect, fail to deliver, don't mention the war.

The official Tongan Rugby website was in maintenance mode ("Please try back in 60 minutes" - for two hours) when the Rolling Maul went looking for it which was easier said than done. It certainly didn't feature in any searches. The suspicion is that it's always under maintenance, much like the Tongan team which has promised a lot more than it has ever delivered - a few scratchy wins against teams they should beat anyway, a good win over Italy and 100 point thrashings by the big guys. How a team with no form to speak of has shorter odds than Japan is a mystery, but if you assume that the 'experts' framing these markets are looking to make a buck then maybe there's something we don't know about that could be worth watching. But probably not.
World Ranking: 13th
Official Price: $501  Rolling Maul Price: $999,999
World Cup Pool Opponents: New Zealand, France, Canada, Japan
Prediction: "Please try back in 60 minutes" to be the new Tongan anthem.

So Italy defeat France in the Six Nations and finish within a  couple of converted tries against all the other nations bar England. Yet they have the same odds as Tonga?! It is true that the Italians don't travel well. Understandably really, if you're used to the best pasta and pizza it must be hard to slum it around the Southern Hemisphere. And going from the Mediterranean to the wilds of Auckland, then Nelson and then glorious Dunedin must seem like some sort of punishment. But Tonga?
World Ranking: 11th
Official Price: $501  Rolling Maul Price: $10,001
World Cup Pool Opponents: Australia, Ireland, Russia, USA
Prediction: The pizza battle against the USA, thick crust vs thin, too much cheese vs very little, wood fired vs conveyor. Let's get it on!

If you believe the Fijian Rugby website (and there's no reason you should if other international Rugby websites are any guide), Fiji have played no matches since June 2010 (they were thrashed by Australia), and played no matches at all in 2009. Yet if memory serves correctly it was only three weeks ago they were thrashed by New Zealand in a  Tri-Nations warm-up. So you have to fear for a team that has had players refused entry to New Zealand because of their Fiji Army links representing a country that doesn't even know they're playing.
World Ranking: 14th
Official Price: $401  Rolling Maul Price: $50,001
World Cup Pool Opponents: South Africa, Wales, Samoa, Namibia
Prediction: If a tree falls in a forest and no one is there to witness the conversion...?

Scotland is a small and obscure nation of sorts just north of England. While reports have emerged that they play Rugby there, no one has ever witnessed this and lived to tell the tale. Indeed Rugby fans who have purchased tickets to games purporting to feature a team known as Scotland tend to only ever notice one team on the field, and it's not Scotland.
World Ranking: 9th
Official Price: $151  Rolling Maul Price: $7,501
World Cup Pool Opponents: Argentina, England, Georgia, Romania
Prediction: "Scotland have gone home already? I didn't even know they qualified!?"

You win one match and then you're everyone's favourite roughie. A bit of context please people. Samoa were playing their Heineken Cup hardened A-team against Australia's B-team most who hadn't played for a month because their Super Rugby teams were so crap they didn't make the semis (indeed far from it). So before you go predicting another upset Welsh style remember that when all these international teams are firing on all cylinders the vast majority of the Samoans weren't good enough a) to play Super Rugby and b) to play for the All Blacks.
World Ranking: 10th
Official Price: $126  Rolling Maul Price: $15,001
World Cup Pool Opponents: South Africa, Wales, Fiji, Namibia
Prediction: Samoa defeating Wales is no upset.

And so we turn to the glory days of Welsh Rugby, indeed the glory days of Rugby when the ball was a missile to be hurled through backlines and speedy wingers made the game a proper spectacle. Or maybe not. 1962. Now there's a year. England vs Wales 0-0. Wales vs Scotland 3-8. Wales vs France 3-0. Ireland vs Wales 3-3. Fortunately there's all that World Cup glory to balance the ledger. The 1987 semi-final, the losses to Samoa and Fiji. Actually there's something about Wales and Fiji, apart from a 58-14 thrashing in their last 5 encounters Fiji have comes away with a win, a draw, a one-point loss and a four-point loss. You want a pool of death, this is it.
World Ranking: 7th
Official Price: $101  Rolling Maul Price: $5,001
World Cup Pool Opponents: South Africa, Samoa, Fiji, Namibia
Prediction: Welsh jerseys to turn red through all the spilled blood. Oh yeah.

The Argentinian Rugby website has probably the best Rugby historical rundown of any Rugby website. For example the dead-ball line was introduced in 1891 after a Bristol player ran 300m past the tryline before touching down. And in 1874 it was determined that the captains of the teams are the arbitrators of disputes. The British were known as the 'Aliens' from 1909. In 1908 the Australian Rugby team chose the name 'Wallabies' over 'Wolves'. These factoids provide no help as to determining how the Pumas will go at the World Cup. They'll kick a lot. They always do. They're very good at it.
World Ranking: 8th
Official Price: $101  Rolling Maul Price: $2,501
World Cup Pool Opponents: England, Scotland, Georgia, Romania
Prediction: The Pumas have a good record against pretty much everyone yet if they defeat anybody it's always a surprise. Discuss.

The last World Cup wasn't kind to Ireland. They narrowly defeated Namibia (they have lost to them twice) and then nearly lost to Georgia before crashing out in the pool stage. Since then they've won Grand Slams and Six Nations, stuffed up the English chances of a Grand Slam and drawn with Australia. You'd think they'd be a good chance at the World Cup. You'd be wrong.
World Ranking: 6th
Official Price: $31  Rolling Maul Price: $751
World Cup Pool Opponents: Australia, Italy, Russia, USA
Prediction: Have avoided bogey-team Namibia. Won't help though. Much.

Mercurial, unpredictable, exciting, flamboyant, magnificent, incorrigible, capricious, spirited, vivacious, profligate. Thesauruses are wonderful things for describing French Rugby. Unfortunately given recent form there's really only one word to describe them - merde.
World Ranking: 5th
Official Price: $21  Rolling Maul Price: $201
World Cup Pool Opponents: New Zealand, Tonga, Canada, Japan
Prediction: Famous French flair falls flat. F***.

Jonny Wilkinson. Outside of the Northern Hemisphere he's pretty much all your average Rugby supporter knows about the English Rugby team. And he's probably all we need to know. He's won them one World Cup, spent more time in rehab than on the field since, and eight-years after that triumph he's back doing what he does best - kicking. OK, he can run a and pass a bit too but if most players 'good' foot was as good as Wilkinson's 'wrong' foot they wouldn't complain. Alas there's a reason why the rest of the English team is largely anonymous - they deserve it. Sure they won a recent Six Nations and defeated the Wallabies numerous times last year but the World Cup is in New Zealand.
World Ranking: 4th
Official Price: $13  Rolling Maul Price: $51 if Wilkinson doesn't get injured, $501 if he does
World Cup Pool Opponents: Argentina, Scotland, Georgia, Romania
Prediction: Headline "Poms claim Southern Hemisphere conspiracy"

Peter DeVilliers, the South African Rugby coach is the best thing about the South African Rugby team. Win, lose or draw, the pensioner plan that is South African Rugby will be a laugh-a-minute side show as long as DeVilliers is at the helm. So absurd and legendary have his quotes become that a new word, "Snorism" has been created, and can be found in the Urban Dictionary...

...to describe the multitudes of ridiculous/ludicrous/idiotic/unfathomable gaffes made constantly by the South African rugby union coach Peter De Villiers (aka Snor).

Check out the Urban Dictionary for some quotes, but for the sake of the World Cup here's hoping the Boks are around till the end of it (meaning they could finish as low as fourth).
World Ranking: 3rd
Official Price: $8  Rolling Maul Price: $34
World Cup Pool Opponents: Wales, Fiji, Samoa, Namibia
Prediction: DeVilliers probably resigns but no one can be too sure exactly what he meant.

Youth on their side, pace to burn, forwards that can match it with anyone, loose forwards that can scavenge as good as any vulture and dig better than any, err, digger. Yet somehow this Wallaby outfit still comes across as less than its parts. No doubt Robbie Deans hoped that with the Reds winning the Super Rugby he'd have a tried and tested core of confident winners. He was partly right. Tried? Yes. Tested? Yes. Confident? Yes. Winners? Only on alternate weekends. The World Cup is effectively 7 consecutive weekends. Like most Roller Coaster rides it will have its ups and downs, be alternately thrilling and frightening, but ultimately it will end where it began.
World Ranking: 2nd
Official Price: $4.25  Rolling Maul Price: $21
World Cup Pool Opponents: Ireland, Italy, Russia, USA
Prediction: Just like Quade Cooper distributing to a runner, the Wallabies will be flicked out the back.

That sound you can hear is a massive choke coming from the near future. Yes it's that time of the World Cup cycle again. The All Blacks are short priced favourites, their lead up form has been impeccable, their top team positions are sorting themselves out, their veterans are proving rock solid, and their injury concerns are abating. Sounds too good to be true and that's because it is. Don't think for a second that the weight of expectation holds back the All Blacks. It's actually a massive global conspiracy to lull the New Zealanders into a false sense of superiority. Four years in the making every four years, if only the rest of the world could use their powers for good instead of evil they could end hunger and create an everlasting world peace, though it wouldn't be as much fun as watching the All Blacks lose another quarter-final.
World Ranking: 1st
Official Price: $1.60  Rolling Maul Price: $20.99
World Cup Pool Opponents: France, Tonga, Canada, Japan
Prediction: The Rolling Maul goes broke


cudars said…
NamibianRugby.com is up an running, more that can be said about the team.