With a new year upon us, let us take you through Planet Rugby’s predictions for 2015 that of course includes a hugely-anticipated World Cup in England.
From the Webb Ellis trophy to Super Rugby betting, we have got you covered for the upcoming twelve months. Brace yourselves for a busy year.
As is expected, New Zealand are favourites for RWC glory, with the hosts next on the list ahead of South Africa. However, we are not just going for the bookies top picks as there’s each-way value elsewhere, which we will come to in our final prediction section.
Before that though let’s delve into the other calls we’ve made, using Paddy Power‘s healthy selection of rugby betting markets. Good luck.
Predictions for 2015
PRO12: Despite sitting fifth in the standings, Leinster remain the favourites for Grand Final glory in May at 9/4. Munster are next on the list before Glasgow and Ulster follow at 7/2. Surprisingly, current league leaders the Ospreys are 11/2 as clearly the bookies don’t think they will maintain their form come the business end. While Leinster will soon have the likes of Sean O’Brien and Cian Healy back, they are missing something – maybe a certain someone – in midfield and it would take some effort to go all the way from here. Instead we believe it will be Munster’s year as they have proved in recent weeks they have the depth to stay in and around the top two and with Mike Sherry, Dave Kilcoyne and Damien Varley returning to boost their front-row stocks, they have a good spine and drive that we feel will lead to Munster taking the title at a price of 3/1.
Premiership: There is an eight-point gap between second and third in the standings as Bath (second) and Northampton (first) go into 2015 in good form. Both are playing extremely well and Saracens, Exeter, Leicester, Wasps and Sale subsequently have their work cut out if they are to claim a home semi-final. Bath are showing a good mix of brawn and pace with Francois Louw critical to their hopes while Saints have Samu Manoa looking to sign off with the title. You do wonder though how Bath will perform when the pressure is really on and it’s for that reason the bookies have Saracens next in line behind Northampton in the Grand Final odds. Northampton are the safest bet for glory at 7/4 with our outside punt being Leicester at 6/1. If they can keep players fit their XV is capable of knocking over any team. That win at Sale was vital.
Champions Cup: So must rides on home field advantage in the knockout stages and at this time it looks like Toulouse, Northampton, Clermont and Toulon are going to be enjoying those comforts. Of course a lot can change in the remaining two rounds of the pool stages, with Saints possibly hoping the Ospreys do them a favour in terms of selection for their Round 5 game. If they do then top spot should be Northampton’s and it’s 5/1 for the Saints to march all the way to glory. Toulon are 21/10 favourites while Clermont are next in line at 7/2.
Six Nations: It’s hard to put a price on what a boost a Six Nations Championship win would do in a World Cup year but that is the objective for England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales. Granted, the Azzurri are rank outsiders but the other nations, including Scotland, will all feel they have a chance of glory in March. England (13/8) are favourites with Ireland (17/10) next in line but we like the look of Wales at 4/1, who kick off at home to the English. They have a settled XV and with Rhys Webb, Dan Biggar and Samson Lee improving match by match on the international scene, we are on them at 4/1. Irish fans out there may fancy them for a Six Nations and World Cup double at 14/1, which is probably the smarter option in that market seeing as England, Wales and Australia collide in that much talked about pool of death.
World Sevens Series: Third favourites after three events but sitting second in the standings, eight points off South Africa, Fiji are our pick for Sevens glory this season. The islanders have impressed so far, winning in Australia before coming third in Dubai, before a poor second day in Port Elizabeth saw them go down to Australia and USA. However, the quality is there and if they can become consistent it is going to be difficult to stop them in 2015, with Jerry Tuwai one of several players impressing so far. Fiji are 5/2 to be Series champions.
Super Rugby: Always a difficult prediction with it being a World Cup year but we expect a response from the Chiefs this season. In comes Sonny Bill Williams, Hosea Gear, Seta Tamanivalu, Damian McKenzie among others as they have real strike power once again in the backline. They are 4/1 for the Grand Final win while our dark horse is the 14/1 Bulls, who look strong up front with the arrival of Adriaan Strauss.
World Cup: We’ve seen in past World Cups that on their day Argentina can mix with anyone and with another Rugby Championship in their legs there’s real each-way value in their 66/1 price. They will make it out of a group including South Africa, Tonga, Georgia and Namibia before it’s likely they will meet either France or Ireland in the quarter-final. If it’s France then we know the Pumas will more than fancy their chances so you see where we are going with this. England, who only move from Twickenham in their group clash with Uruguay, also have HQ as what they will hope will be a fortress for the knockouts and with New Zealand not being much value at 6/4, the Red Rose are 4/1 shots. The Irish meanwhile are 10s and Wales are a 20/1 bet, seemingly being written off as the outsiders. South Africa are a good 5/1 bet for glory.