Rugby World Cup 2019: Pool B

Last Updated: 17/09/19 6:24am

New Zealand are the reigning champions after back-to-back Rugby World Cup wins in 2011 and 2015
New Zealand are the reigning champions after back-to-back Rugby World Cup wins in 2011 and 2015

Pool B will start with a bang as heavyweights New Zealand and South Africa clash in Yokohama on Saturday September, 21.

It’s a pool that also contains Italy, Namibia and Canada and the key question is whether or not any of them can pull off a major shock and rock the Springboks or the All Blacks? It appears impossible, but remember Japan four years ago?

Here we take a look at each nation’s 31-man squad, pick a key player to focus upon, go through current form and bring you all of the pool’s fixtures…

POOL B

New Zealand

New Zealand have won 44 of the 50 matches they have played at Rugby World Cup competitions
New Zealand have won 44 of the 50 matches they have played at Rugby World Cup competitions

Head coach: Steve Hansen

Captain: Kieran Read (121 caps)

Previous Rugby World Cup best: Rugby World Cup winners (1987, 2011, 2015)

Key player: Beauden Barrett. The man pulling the strings for the reigning champions. The spotlight will be on his goal-kicking, especially when it moves into the latter stages of the tournament, but around the park he’s expected to excel and take his game to the world-class level it so often reaches.

Current form: Not ideal from an All Black perspective. Since winning the tournament in 2015, New Zealand have failed to win in eight Tests – a highly unusual figure for them. They finished second in the reduced 2019 Rugby Championship, having drawn with South Africa and lost to Australia, while they have also lost to Ireland (twice), the Lions (and drew another Test), Australia (twice) and South Africa since the last World Cup. Still, who wouldn’t bet on them to lift a third successive crown?

31-man World Cup squad:

Forwards (17): Dane Coles, Liam Coltman, Codie Taylor, Nepo Laulala, Joe Moody, Atu Moli, Angus Ta’avao, Ofa Tuungafasi, Scott Barrett, Brodie Retallick, Patrick Tuipulotu, Samuel Whitelock, Sam Cane, Luke Jacobson, Kieran Read (c), Ardie Savea, Matt Todd.

Backs (14): TJ Perenara, Aaron Smith, Brad Weber, Beauden Barrett, Richie Mo’unga, Ryan Crotty, Jack Goodhue, Anton Lienert-Brown, Sonny Bill Williams, Jordie Barrett, George Bridge, Rieko Ioane, Sevu Reece, Ben Smith.

Fixtures:

  • New Zealand vs South Africa, Saturday September, 21 (10.45am)
  • New Zealand vs Canada, Wednesday October, 2 (11:15am)
  • New Zealand vs Namibia, Sunday October, 6 (5.45am)
  • New Zealand vs Italy, Saturday October, 12 (5.45am)

South Africa

South Africa completed their Rugby World Cup preparations with a 41-7 victory over Japan
South Africa completed their Rugby World Cup preparations with a 41-7 victory over Japan

Head coach: Rassie Erasmus

Captain: Siya Kolisi (42 caps)

Previous Rugby World Cup best: Rugby World Cup winners (1995, 2007)

Key player: Faf de Klerk. The pocket rocket who sets their tempo and causes opposition defences all manner of problems to think about. The 27-year-old has blossomed over the past few seasons and combines a strong kicking game with vision and the confidence to ‘go’ when it’s on.

Current form: For many people, the Boks are the favourites heading into this World Cup. From their floundering form under Allister Coetzee in 2016 and 2017, 2018 and 2019 has proven a redemptive period for South Africa, as they have beaten England, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, France, Scotland and Japan. Their opening game against the All Blacks, and a potential route to top the pool and avoiding New Zealand until the final puts them in good shape.

31-man World Cup squad:

Forwards (17): Schalk Brits, Eben Etzebeth, Lood de Jager, Steven Kitshoff, Vincent Koch, Siya Kolisi (c), Francois Louw, Frans Malherbe, Malcolm Marx, Bongi Mbonambi, Franco Mostert, Tendai Mtawarira, Trevor Nyakane, Kwagga Smith, RG Snyman, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Duane Vermeulen.

Backs (14): Damian de Allende, Lukhanyo Am, Warrick Gelant, Elton Jantjies, Herschel Jantjies, Faf de Klerk, Cheslin Kolbe, Jesse Kriel, Makazole Mapimpi, Sbu Nkosi, Handre Pollard, Cobus Reinach, Willie le Roux, Frans Steyn.

Fixtures:

  • New Zealand vs South Africa, Saturday September, 21 (10.45am)
  • South Africa vs Namibia, Saturday September, 28 (10.45am)
  • South Africa vs Italy, Friday October, 4 (10.45am)
  • South Africa vs Canada, Tuesday October, 8 (11.15am)

Italy

Sergio Parisse made his Rugby World Cup debut as a replacement against New Zealand in 2003
Sergio Parisse made his Rugby World Cup debut as a replacement against New Zealand in 2003

Head coach: Conor O’Shea

Captain: Sergio Parisse (140 caps)

Previous Rugby World Cup best: Pool stage (1987, 1991, 1995, 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011, 2015)

Key player: Sergio Parisse. Italy’s ultimate talisman will be taking to the field at a record-equalling fifth Rugby World Cup in Japan and he personifies the word ‘determination’. The No 8 still has an engine to mix it with the best of them and will work himself into the ground in what is highly likely to be his last World Cup competition for the Azzurri.

Current form: The enduring conundrum of northern hemisphere rugby. While the performances of club sides Benetton and Zebre has drastically improved since Conor O’Shea came in, results for the national team have largely remained the same. The Azzurri’s only victories over the last two years have come against Russia, Japan (who they lost to in another Test) and Georgia. One has to go back to November 2016 for the last time Italy beat a Tier 1 nation.

31-man World Cup squad:

Forwards (18): Luca Bigi, Dean Budd, Oliviero Fabiani, Simone Ferrari, Leonardo Ghiraldini, Andrea Lovotti, Maxime Mbanda, Sebastian Negri, Sergio Parisse (c), Tiziano Pasquali, Jake Polledri, Nicola Quaglio, Marco Riccioni, Federico Ruzza, David Sisi, Abraham Steyn, Federico Zani, Alessandro Zanni.

Backs (13): Tommaso Allan, Mattia Bellini, Tommaso Benvenuti, Giulio Bisegni, Callum Braley, Michele Campagnaro, Carlo Canna, Jayden Hayward, Matteo Minozzi, Luca Morisi, Edoardo Padovani, Guglielmo Palazzani, Tito Tebaldi.

Fixtures:

  • Italy vs Namibia, Sunday September, 22 (6.15am)
  • Italy vs Canada, Thursday September, 26 (8.45am)
  • South Africa vs Italy, Friday October, 4 (10.45am)
  • New Zealand vs Italy, Saturday October, 12 (05.45am)

Namibia

Namibia have played 19 matches in Rugby World Cup history and have yet to win one
Namibia have played 19 matches in Rugby World Cup history and have yet to win one

Head coach: Phil Davies

Captain: Johan Deysel (24 caps)

Previous Rugby World Cup best: Pool stage (1999, 2003, 2007, 2011, 2015)

Key player: Eugene Jantjies. The veteran scrum-half first appeared at a World Cup back in 2007 and is the only surviving member from that tournament 12 years ago. Four players remain who featured at the 2011 World Cup: Darryl de la Harpe, Rohan Kitshoff and PJ van Lill. This experienced spine of their squad will be crucial in trying to achieve a first-ever win at a Rugby World Cup competition.

Namibia will commence their 2019 campaign against Italy
Namibia will commence their 2019 campaign against Italy

Current form: Still seeking their first Rugby World Cup victory, Namibia will find it extremely tough going to pick up a W in this pool. They did beat Uruguay in the build-up to the World Cup, but also lost to Russia – whose own results have been very poor.

31-man World Cup squad:

Forwards (18): Andre Rademeyer, Nelius Theron, Desiderius Sethie, AJ de Klerk, Johannes Coetzee, Obert Nortje, Louis van der Westhuizen, Torsten van Jaarsveld, Tjiuee Uanivi, Johan Retief, Thomasau Forbes, Rohan Kitshoff, Max Katjijeko, Prince Gaoseb, Wian Conradie, PJ van Lill, Adriaan Booysen, Janco Venter.

Backs (13): Cliven Loubser, Helarius Kisting, Damian Stevens, Eugene Jantjies, Darryl de la Harpe, Johan Deysel (c), Justin Newman, JC Greyling, Johann Tromp, Chad Plato, Lesley Klim, Janry du Toit, PJ Walters.

Fixtures:

  • Italy vs Namibia, Sunday September, 22 (6.15am)
  • South Africa vs Namibia, Saturday September, 28 (10.45am)
  • New Zealand vs Namibia, Sunday October, 6 (5.45am)
  • Namibia vs Canada, Sunday October, 13 (4.15am)

Canada

Canada were the final qualifiers after beating Hong Kong 27-10 in the last match of the repechage tournament
Canada were the final qualifiers after beating Hong Kong 27-10 in the last match of the repechage tournament

Head coach: Kingsley Jones

Captain: Tyler Ardron (33 caps)

Previous Rugby World Cup best: Quarter-finals (1991)

Key player: DTH van der Merwe. Keep an eye out for the hot-stepping winger who is making his fourth appearance at a Rugby World Cup. If you give him an inch then he’ll take a mile with his superb footwork and he has the pace to match too. Van der Merwe has a hit-rate of 38 tries in 57 Tests.

Current form: Pretty poor. Indeed, their build-up to this World Cup has seen a run of defeats which will have caused the squad considerable discomfort. The summer has seen them lose to the USA (twice), Fiji and Tonga, while further defeats came against Uruguay and Brazil earlier in the year. They have won seven World Cup games in history, but might only add one more to that total in this pool.

31-man World Cup squad:

Forwards (17): Tyler Ardron (c), Kyle Baillie, Justin Blanchet, Hubert Buydens, Luke Campbell, Matt Heaton, Eric Howard, Jake Ilnicki, Cole Keith, Conor Keys, Evan Olmstead, Benoit Piffero, Andrew Quattrin, Lucas Rumball, Djustice Sears-Duru, Mike Sheppard, Matthew Tierney

Backs (14): Nick Blevins, Andrew Coe, Jeff Hassler, Ciaran Hearn, Ben LeSage, Phil Mack, Jamie Mackenzie, Gordon McRorie, Peter Nelson, Shane O’Leary, Patrick Parfrey, Taylor Paris, Conor Trainor, DTH van der Merwe.

Fixtures:

  • Italy vs Canada, Thursday September, 26 (8.45am)
  • New Zealand vs Canada, Wednesday October, 2 (11.15am)
  • South Africa vs Canada, Tuesday October, 8 (11.15am)
  • Namibia vs Canada, Sunday October, 13 (4.15am)

Source : Sky Sports