The Rugby World Cup kicks off tomorrow as hosts Japan start against Russia, but it could be argued it’s possibly the most open RWC as there are several counties from both Northern and Southern Hemisphere.
So let us look at the nations involved and The Bear Cave will predict who will ultimately winners of the World Cup.
Disclaimer – I won’t know everything about every nation, but I’ll give it my best.
Coach: Joe Schmidt – The end of a successful run for the Kiwi boss comes after the World Cup and could be the next All Black coach.
Player to Watch: Jacob Stockdale – The 23-year-old Northern Irishman could be the game-changer for Ireland. After an ineffective warm-up against England at Twickenham, the winger showcased his class in Cardiff against Wales scoring twice.
World Cup Prediction – They were frontrunners after beating New Zealand in 2018 but have since gone off the boil and could face a tricky Quarter-Final against either the All Blacks or South Africa.
Coach: Greg Townsend – Has moulded his squad and they continue to impress and excite.
Player to Watch: Finn Russell – The fly-half will be key to Scotland’s performance and progression.
World Cup Prediction – Have a chance to reach the QF, but they must beat Japan which will be the test.
Coach: Jamie Joseph – The Kiwi-born All Black represented Japan in the 1999 World Cup.
Player to Watch: Michael Leitch – The talismanic skipper will lead his nation with powerful performances and passion.
World Cup Prediction – Beating the performance of the previous hosts in 2015 will be a success. Reaching the QF will be the goal.
Coach: Lyn Jones – The Welshman’s side has already lost to Japan, so not looking great for the curtain-raiser.
Player to Watch – I don’t know.
World Cup Prediction – If they can get a shock win it’d be a success. This is just a chance to play on a global stage and gain experience.
Coach: Steve Jackson – Ex-assistant of New Zealand side Counties-Manukau.
Player to Watch – I don’t know.
World Cup Prediction – Beating Russia and not finishing the bottom of the group will be a success.
Coach: Steve Hansen – His final major tournament before stepping down as All Blacks coach and will want it to end it by winning a hat-trick of World Cups.
Player to Watch: Beauden Barrett – If his kicking game is on fire then nothing will stop this former World Player of the Year to completely boss this tournament.
World Cup Prediction – Favourites coming in, but all will depend on the opening game against South Africa.
Coach: Rassie Erasmus – After a few years in the wilderness, he has gotten the Springboks back on track as a seriously dangerous team they once were.
Player to Watch: Faf de Klerk – The tiny scrum-half is the best in the world in that position and is the heartbeat of the team with his massive personality and pressure and makes an incredibly dangerous partnership with fly-half Handre Pollard.
World Cup Prediction – The wildcard but coming strong contenders. Once they get to the knock out stages no one will want to face them. Worth a bet.
Coach: Conor O’Shea – The ex Harlequin boss is having a tough time changing the nations rugby DNA, but are playing some eye-catching stuff.
Player to Watch: Sergio Parisse – The talismanic leader of the Azzurri is relied on too much but is the heartbeat of the team.
World Cup Prediction – Finishing third in the group is the best they can aim for.
Coach: Phil Davies – The Welshman been with Namibia since 2015.
Player to Watch – No idea.
World Cup Prediction – They won’t win a game or get a point but they’re going to have a wonderful time in Japan.
Coach: Kingsley Jones – Another Welshman and coached Premiership side Sale and Russia.
Player to Watch: Daniel Tailliferre Hauman van der Merwe – An incredibly long name but is a fantastic weapon for them.
World Cup Prediction – Will have a lovely time in Japan, but if they can get a shock win again Italy then it’ll be seen as a successful tournament.
Coach: Eddie Jones – Has prepared his side decently with a mixed warm-up series of games.
Player to Watch: Joe Cokanasiga – At 6ft 4in and weighing over 19st this winger with be a deadly weapon for England and will use his pace and power to scare all defences.
World Cup Prediction – Semi-Finals is realistic, but this is the best England squad this the 2003 World Cup and nothing both reaching the final will be a failure.
Coach: Mario Ledesma – He’ll be hoping his nation will go one better at this world cup and get to the final and even win it.
Player to Watch: Agustin Creevy – The hooker is a hard man and the based of their huge scrum.
World Cup Predictions – On their day they have a real chance of topping the pool. But likely battle France to get to the Quarter-Finals.
Coach: Jacques Brunel – He’ll be replaced once the tournament is over after an utterly crap reign which could end in being knocked out of the pool stages.
Player to Watch: Alivereti Raka – The winger has massive pace that will take a lot of stopping.
World Cup Prediction – Due to the nature of France they’ll either go home early after a shocking tournament or annoy everyone and make a semi-final.
Coach: Toutai Kefu – The Tongan-born Aussie was coached by Eddie Jones.
Player to Watch – Telusa Veainu – The fullback has been tearing it up in the Premiership for Leicester.
World Cup Prediction – They’ll come with passion and honour for their nation, but will go home at the pool stages but let’s hope they can dig a shock result against either France or Argentina along the way.
Coach: Gary Gold – The ex England coach will hope major tournament experience will do something for the sport back home.
Player to Watch: AJ MacGinty – The fly-half is the most experienced player for the Eagles is a superb kicker.
World Cup Prediction – A chance to learn and play elite teams like England, France and Argentina will be another step in the right direction. They’re going home after the pool stages.
Coach: Michael Cheika – Will be leaving the role after this tournament and hoping to produce one more big surprise.
Player to Watch: Kurtley Beale – Is the heart of the team, the player that makes things tick and will need to be at this best to give the Wallabies any chance in the knock out stages.
World Cup Prediction – Should finish runners-up in the pool stages, but getting knocked out in the QF. Or they could get momentum as they seem to do and reach another final.
Coach: Warren Gatland – Another coach calling it a day after the tournament and will be looking to end it with the nation winning their first World Cup.
Player to Watch: Liam Williams – The fullback is one of the most dangerous attacking players on the planet.
World Cup Prediction – The aim should be the semi-finals but with another Six Nations Grand Slam behind them and the bonus of being the last few matches under Gatland, they’ll be hoping to reach their first final.
Coach: Milton Haig – The Kiwi is mates with Eddie Jones and has brought in former England coach Graham Rowntree as scrum coach.
Player to Watch: Mamuka Gorgodze – Was one the players of the tournament at the 2015 World Cup due to his standout performance against the All Blacks.
World Cup Prediction – If they can upset some of the big boys then they’ll be happy but they won’t get out the group.
Coach: John McKee – The Kiwi boss is in charge of the best Pacific Islands.
Player to Watch: Semi Radradra – The centre embarrassed England while playing for the Barbarians as he can carve open teams for fun and will be a joy to watch.
World Cup Prediction – Serious dark horses. They should worry the big boys and could knockout Australia in the pool stages. They won’t get further than the Quarters but don’t write them off until their opening game.
Coach: Esteban Meneses – An unexperienced coach taking his nation for a trip to Japan.
Player to Watch – No One.
World Cup Prediction – They lost every game in the 2015 World Cup. So expect nothing but at least they can explore Japan for a couple of weeks.