Rugby World Cup 2019: England, Ireland, Wales and Scotland preview as bids to claim the Webb Ellis trophy in

Rugby World Cup 2019: England, Ireland, Wales and Scotland preview as bids to claim the Webb Ellis trophy in

The Rugby World Cup starts on Friday with plenty of expectation for all the Home Nations.

The opening fixture sees hosts Japan take on Russia in Tokyo on Friday before Ireland, Scotland and England get their campaigns underway on Sunday followed by Wales on Monday.

The 2019 tournament is perhaps the most wide open in years with Ireland ranked as the number one side in the world while New Zealand and South Africa have been drawn in the same group.

Joe Cokanasiga will be playing in his first World Cup for England

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Joe Cokanasiga will be playing in his first World Cup for England

Here at we have taken a look at what all four home nations can expect from the tournament.


Four years have passed since England’s humiliating exit from the Rugby World Cup on home soil that saw them not get past the pool stage.

Their route to the knockout stages may be slightly easier in 2019 but Eddie Jones’ side will be wary of the potential banana skins ahead of them.

This time the tournament is in Japan in surroundings that Jones will no doubt be comfortable in.

He is of Japanese heritage and was coach of their national team at the 2015 World Cup in England where he masterminded their win over South Africa.

The 59-year-old was also head coach of Australia when they were beaten by England in the 2003 final and was also part of the South African coaching staff when they won in 2007.

Jones was appointed in November 2015 so he would have four years to prepare for this tournament.

In his first two years, England could not stop winning as they won back-to-back Six Nations Championships.

The last two years have been a little more inconsistent, with a draw and defeat to Scotland the most notable results, as he has looked to find his best side.

Jones’ record has been strong overall with 34 wins from 44 games with nine defeats and a draw.

England possess some genuine world class talent with an array of pace and power at their disposal.

Key players

Maro Itoje – lock

The 24-year-old lock is in the prime of his career and if England harbour any hopes of lifting the Webb Ellis trophy in October then he will need to perform.

Itoje’s incredible athleticism makes England dominant at the lineout while he is also an excellent ball carrier.

There are plenty of players in England’s line-up that opponents will fear but Itoje will be chief antagonist at this World Cup.

Maro Itoje has made 29 appearances for England

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Maro Itoje has made 29 appearances for England

Joe Cokanasiga – wing

Cokanasiga may have only played eight Tests for England but he has already been compared to New Zealand great Jonah Lomu.

The 21-year-old, who was born in Fiji, has already scored five tries in those games.

He has incredible speed for a man who is 6ft 4in and weighs 17st 8lb and is a daunting prospect for any opposing defender to tackle.

Joe Cokanasiga plays his club rugby for Bath

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Joe Cokanasiga plays his club rugby for Bath

Full squad

Forwards; Dan Cole (prop), Luke Cowan-Dickie (hooker), Tom Curry (flanker), Ellis Genge (prop), Jamie George (hooker), Maro Itoje (lock), George Kruis (lock), Joe Launchbury (lock), Courtney Lawes (lock), Lewis Ludlam (flanker), Joe Marler (prop), Kyle Sinckler (prop), Jack Singleton (hooker), Sam Underhill (flanker), Billy Vunipola (No. 8), Mako Vunipola (prop), Mark Wilson (flanker).

Backs; Joe Cokanasiga (wing), Elliot Daly (full-back), Owen Farrell (fly-half), George Ford (fly-half), Piers Francis (centre), Willi Heinz (scrum-half), Jonathan Joseph (centre), Jonny May (wing), Ruaridh McConnochie (wing), Jack Nowell (wing), Henry Slade (centre), Manu Tuilagi (centre), Anthony Watson (wing), Ben Youngs (scrum-half).


Sunday, September 22 – Tonga (11.15am)

Thursday, September 26 – USA (11.45am)

Saturday, October 5 – Argentina (9am)

Saturday, October 12 – France (9.15am)




The 2019 Rugby World Cup will be Warren Gatland’s swansong as Wales head coach.

The 56-year-old has spent 12 years at the helm of Wales rugby with four Six Nations victories, including three Grand Slams.

Gatland was appointed in 2007 after a dismal World Cup and his record has been solid in the tournament.

Eight years ago, they reached the semi-finals and in 2015 they managed to get out of the pool stage that included England and Australia, before losing to South Africa in the last eight.

Warren Gatland will be returning to New Zealand after the Rugby World Cup

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Warren Gatland will be returning to New Zealand after the Rugby World Cup

Gatland will want to sign off in style before taking over as head coach of Super Rugby side Chiefs in his native New Zealand.

Strength in depth may hurt Wales as the tournament progresses but they are a reasonable bet to make it out of Pool D.

They are already without Taulupe Faletau and Gareth Anscombe and any more injuries could hurt them.

Their preparation has been far from ideal with coach Rob Howley sent home amid a betting investigation.

Key player

Alun Wyn Jones – lock

The Wales captain may be 34 but he is still at his peak and his country will need all of his 128 caps of experience if they are to progress.

Jones is one of the best in the world at his position and can drag Wales through matches if he is required.

Alun Wyn Jones is two matches away from being Wales’ most capped player

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Alun Wyn Jones is two matches away from being Wales’ most capped player

Full squad

Forwards; Jake Ball (lock), Adam Beard (lock), Rhys Carre (prop), James Davies (flanker), Elliot Dee (hooker), Ryan Elias (hooker), Tomas Francis (prop), Cory Hill (lock), Wyn Jones (prop), Alun Wyn Jones (lock), Dillon Lewis (prop), Ross Moriarty (No. 8), Josh Navidi (flanker), Ken Owens (hooker), Aaron Shingler (flanker), Nicky Smith (prop), Justin Tipuric (flanker), Aaron Wainwright (flanker).

Backs; Josh Adams (wing), Hallam Amos(wing), Dan Biggar (fly-half), Aled Davies (scrum-half), Gareth Davies (scrum-half), Jonathan Davies (centre), Leigh Halfpenny (full-back), George North (wing), Hadleigh Parkes (centre), Rhys Patchell (fly-half), Owen Watkin (centre), Liam Williams (utility back), Tomos Williams (scrum-half).


Monday, September 23 – Georgia (11.15am)

Sunday, September 29 – Australia (8.45am)

Wednesday, October 9 – Fiji (10.45am)

Sunday, October 13 – Uruguay (9.15am)




Scotland are inconsistent at best and on their day they can cause real problems for the top sides, as England found out at their cost in their last two Calcutta Cup clashes.

The bad days often outweigh the good ones and a strong performance is normally followed by an implosion.

Scotland are easy on the eye with lots of skill and pace but lack the ball-carrying up front to grind out results when Plan A fails.

Key Player

Finn Russell – fly-half

On his day, Russell can be a world beater and virtually unplayable but when he is having an off day then the rest of the team seems to follow.

He has scored 137 points in 46 matches for Scotland and has flourished with Racing 92 at club level.

Finn Russell replaced All Blacks legend Dan Carter at Racing 92

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Finn Russell replaced All Blacks legend Dan Carter at Racing 92

“The Six Nations was up and down. Against Italy the first half was great, then we let in three late tries,” Russell said before the World Cup. “We had a good first period against Ireland too but slipped off again. Then the England game [a 38-38 draw at Twickenham, in which Scotland trailed by 31 points] was like that but in reverse.

“What was frustrating was we never really managed to put in an 80-minute performance. In a World Cup against the best teams on the planet you have to put in a 80-minute display every game.

“But it should be the real Scotland we see now. This is the main stage, the World Cup, so if it’s not the real Scotland we see then it will be disappointing for all of us.”

Full squad

Forwards; John Barclay (flanker), Simon Berghan (prop), Fraser Brown (hooker), Scott Cummings (lock), Allan Dell (prop), Zander Fagerson (prop), Grant Gilchrist (lock), Jonny Gray (lock), Stuart McInally (hooker), Willem Nel (prop), Gordon Reid (prop), Jamie Ritchie (flanker), Blade Thomson (back-row), Ben Toolis (lock), George Turner (hooker), Hamis Watson (flanker), Ryan Wilson (No. 8).

Backs; Darcy Graham (wing), Chris Harris (centre), Adam Hastings (fly-half), Stuart Hogg (full-back), George Horne (scrum-half), Pete Horne (utility back), Sam Johnson (centre), Blair Kinghorn (full-back), Greig Laidlaw (scrum-half), Sean Maitland (wing), Ali Price (scrum-half), Finn Russell (fly-half), Tommy Seymour (wing), Duncan Taylor (centre).


Sunday, September 22 – Ireland (8.45am)

Monday, September 30 – Samoa (11.15am)

Wednesday, October 9 – Russia (8.15am)

Sunday, October 13 – Japan (11.45am)


Pool Stage


Ireland went to number one in the world with their warm-up victory over Wales in Dublin as the early indicators for the tournament are good.

Remarkably, only once has the World Cup not been won by a side not occupying that top ranking spot.

Ireland’s record at the tournament has been dismal, though, and they have never won a knockout match in their history.

Their win over New Zealand last November was a sign that they can be world beaters but their recent loss to England may have concerned head coach Joe Schmidt.

They have been handed a relatively kind pool but are likely to face South Africa or New Zealand in the quarter-final.

Key player

Johnny Sexton – fly-half

The world’s best player has had his injury scares ahead of the tournament and a slight dip in form during the Six Nations was uncharacteristic.

Ireland’s hopes will be linked to how well Sexton can perform at the tournament and at 34 it is now or never to guide his side to glory (or at least a knockout win).

Johnny Sexton was named as the best player in the world in 2018


Johnny Sexton was named as the best player in the world in 2018


Forwards; Rory Best (hooker), Tadhg Beirne (lock), Jack Conan (flanker), Sean Cronin (hooker), Tadhg Furlong (prop), Cian Healy (prop), Iain Henderson (lock), Dave Kilcoyne (prop), Jean Kleyn (lock), Peter O’Mahony (flanker), Andrew Porter (prop), Rhys Ruddock (flanker), James Ryan (lock), John Ryan (prop), Niall Scannell (hooker), CJ Stander (flanker), Josh van der Flier (flanker).

Backs; Bundee Aki (centre), Joey Carbery (fly-half), Jack Carty (fly-half), Andrew Conway (utility back), Keith Earls (utility back), Chris Farrell (centre), Robbie Henshaw (centre), Rob Kearney (full-back), Jordan Larmour (wing), Luke McGrath (scrum-half), Conor Murray (scrum-half), Garry Ringrose (centre), Johnny Sexton (fly-half), Jacob Stockdale (wing).


Sunday, September 22 – Scotland (8.45am)

Saturday, September 28 – Japan (8.15am)

Thursday, October 3 – Russia (11.45am)

Saturday, October 12 – Samoa (11.45am)