July 21, 2024

Rugby Expert Predicts ‘Cohesive’ Wales will Defy the Odds at this Year’s Rugby World Cup

leigh halfpenny (galles) durante un calcio piazzato during Wales vs Italy, Six Nations Rugby in Cardiff (Wales), February 01 2020 - LPS/Massimiliano Carnabuci

One of rugby union’s top journalists, Owain Jones, believes that Wales will make it to at least the knockout stages of the upcoming Rugby World Cup, despite Warren Gatland’s men being largely written off by other experts.

Welshman Jones was asked by rugby news platform RugbyPass to use its Rugby World Cup team predictor tool to make his predictions and share his views on how he sees the tournament unfolding. Jones has subsequently chosen Wales to progress into the knockout stages, finishing second in Pool C behind Australia. Jones has also praised the Wales squad for its wealth of experience and the fact Warren Gatland has been given time to make his mark.

What has made Jones’ choices more interesting is the fact that RugbyPass also asked its 80,000+ fanbase to make their respective choices, and from the thousands who participated, 44% also picked Wales to finish in the Pool C runner-up position. Although, only 6% believe Wales will progress beyond the Quarter-finals and less than 1% of these fans believe Wales will go on to lift the Webb Ellis Cup on October 28.

You can find a full breakdown of RugbyPass’ fan predictions here:

https://www.rugbypass.com/rugby-world-cup/expert-predictions/

 

RugbyPass also consulted a number of other rugby experts who, unlike Jones, all expect Wales to see an early exit. One of RugbyPass’ Creative Directors and former Scotland international, Jim Hamilton, said he will be “surprised” if Wales get out of the group stages. While another former Scotland international-turned RugbyPass pundit, Johnnie Beattie, said he “can see Georgia or Fiji knocking Wales over and marching into the Quarter-finals”.

Speaking about his own selections, Jones offered these thoughts why he feels Wales will see success in Pool C:

“While Wales haven’t had a great 18 months, there’s still a lot of talent there and a great mix of young players and those with a lot of experience who can get the side out of tight games and situations. The squad will also have a lot of time together to help them gel and get in tune with one another, which will help make them stronger and more cohesive.

“I’m going to go with Australia winning the Pool and Wales coming second. Fiji have some incredible runners and athletes, but they struggle to see games out and they’ll be undone by the likes of Australia and Wales who play in a much more structured way. Georgia are a powerful up-and-coming side, but maybe it’s one World Cup too early for them.”

 

Jones also made his decisions prior to Wales’ impressive 20 – 9 win over England in last weekend’s World Cup warm-up game and had initially said that as a potential Quarter-finals tie – depending on how the draw goes – this would be a close affair. However, there’s no doubt that this victory will have done a great deal to boost the confidence of Gatland’s men ahead of their opening game against Fiji on 10 September, and may well lead to a rejuvenated Wales side.