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Champions again

John GriffithsJanuary 16, 2015
It would take a brave man to bet against New Zealand © Getty Images
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Who'll win the RWC? asks Graham Smith from England

The start-of-the-year question in any RWC year.

A Welsh rugby critic suggested during the 2014 autumn internationals that any of several nations could lift the Webb Ellis Trophy at Twickenham in November.

Arguably this circle of close results in the past calendar year supports the contention that nine of the ten teams among the Tier One nations could be winners:

England beat Ireland 13-10 (22nd February)
Ireland beat France 22-20 (15th March)
France beat Scotland 19-17 (8th March)
Scotland beat Argentina 21-19 (20th June)
Argentina beat Australia 21-17 (4th October)
Australia beat Wales 33-28 (8th November)
Wales beat South Africa 12-6 (29th November)
South Africa beat New Zealand 27-25 (4th October)
New Zealand beat England 24-21 (8th November)

… and never more than a converted try, it will be noticed, separating the sides.

Even so, it would be a brave man who placed his money beyond New Zealand to win, though it's worth noting that the tournament's perennial favourites have struggled for victory several times recently. Indeed, only six of New Zealand's last 14 Tests against Tier Ones have been won by more than one score.

John Griffiths is a widely respected rugby historian and is the author of several sports books, a regular contributor to the Daily Telegraph and co-author of the IRB International Rugby Yearbook. He has provided insight for Scrum.com since 1999.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd

Writer Bio

John Griffiths is a widely respected rugby historian and is the author of several sports books, a regular contributor to the Daily Telegraph and co-author of the IRB International Rugby Yearbook. He has provided insight for Scrum.com since 1999.

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