Tip Japan - Russia
The 2019 Rugby World Cup begins on Friday and runs all the way through to November 2 when the final takes place. Opening the tournament are hosts Japan who take on Russia in a Group A fixture. The other countries in this group are Ireland (currently ranked number one in the world), Scotland and Samoa. The top two qualify for the knock-out stages but finishing third is important as that takes you into the 2023 World Cup without having to qualify. We could have had a more thrilling opener to be fair. Perhaps having the defending champions New Zealand playing would have been a lot better.
Japan are ranked 10th in the world and their opponents are 20th. The Japanese team have never made it out of their group in a World Cup tournament. In 2015 though, they did cause a big shock when beating South Africa but still finished third in their group. They have won five of their previous six games against Russia who are competing in these finals for only the second time. Their previous appearance was in 2011 when they lost all four of their matches, a similar fate awaits them in 2019. Japan can win this match, back them on a -36 handicap.
Key points Japan - Russia
Japan are world ranked 10 places higher than their opponents.
Russia have never won a match in the World Cup finals.
World Cup warm-up games saw Russia lose by 28 points to club side Connacht and by 70 points to Italy.
Conclusion Japan - Russia
Japan look certain to get their tournament off to a winning start. They are ranked 10th in the world but the best they can hope for in this group is a third place finish. Russia are ranked 20th and didn't have a good warm-up for this tournament. Losing 85-15 to Italy indicates they will struggle in this tournament, especially against Ireland and Scotland. Go for Japan to win this match on a -36 handicap.
Japan Russia Prediction published on September 18, 2019