In Review

2019 Rugby World Cup final: predictions, betting odds, pre-tournament winner picks

Will it be England or South Africa lifting the Webb Ellis Cup?

England vs. South Africa 

Saturday’s Rugby World Cup final between England and South Africa promises to be a classic but it is almost too close to call. 

England reached the Yokohama showpiece after beating the All Blacks 19-7 in the semi-finals while South Africa were 19-16 winners over Wales.

According to Oddschecker Eddie Jones’s England are slight favourites to lift the Webb Ellis Cup, but the Springboks were tipped by many pundits to win the World Cup before the tournament started. 

In 2007 South Africa beat England 15-6 in the RWC final in France and will be confident of repeating the feat in Japan. 

Here we look at the match betting odds and pundit predictions…

RWC final betting odds

Prices according to Oddschecker

RWC winner 
  • England to win: 1/2 
  • South Africa to win: 9/4 
  • Draw: 25/1 

Pundit predictions: who will win the RWC final?

Warren Gatland, Wales head coach: hopes England win

“I thought England were excellent against the All Blacks - it was the best I’ve seen England play in the last 10 years. I thought they were outstanding. I think it will be a great final with two physical teams and I hope a northern hemisphere team can win the World Cup. It would have been great if two of us could have been in the final, but it wasn’t to be.”

Sir Ian McGeechan, The Daily Telegraph: England 27 South Africa 15

“England haven’t come across a team who will challenge them as hard as South Africa at the set-piece or the breakdown. They will need to remain patient and the first two breakdowns will be crucial. With South Africa’s strength at the one-on-one contact, England might well have to be more patient in getting the front foot ball which has defined their game. But if they see off the initial storm, and start controlling territory, then I think they have the tools to hurt South Africa who likewise have not come up against a team of England’s physicality.” 

Will Greenwood, The Daily Telegraph: England 21 South Africa 18

“Anyone assuming that England are going to walk this based on the New Zealand performance needs to think again. Fortunately I don’t think Eddie Jones or his players are thinking that way, and I’m backing England to produce a gutsy performance and edge a thriller.” 

Ben Burrows, Independent: England 20 South Africa 14

“England are the better team but that never really matters to South Africa. They will scrap and scratch and spoil and make England earn a second Webb Ellis Cup. It’ll be cagey and close but just as New Zealand did in the pool stage, England have the attacking weapons to make any Springbok error count. England to win 20-14.”

Jonathan Liew, Independent: England 14 South Africa 6

“As is often the case in big games when you have far too much time to think about them, I’ve been oscillating back and forth on this all week. Partly the reason for this is that for their many virtues, neither of these sides is quite good enough to dictate terms for 80 minutes. It’ll be scrappy, butt ugly at times, but ultimately I can see England carving out enough openings to make the difference. [Sam] Underhill to finally get his try. [Owen] Farrell to hold his nerve with the boot. England’s bench to hold tight at the end. England to win 14-6.”

Tom Dutton, London Evening Standard: England 21-10 South Africa 

“Form goes out of the window on occasions such as these but England will be favourites going into the final after sending the dominant back-to-back champions packing - and in some style - on Saturday. Eddie Jones’s men must be disciplined, as they have been so far in the tournament, as Handre Pollard won’t need a second invitation to punish them with the boot.”

Quintin van Jaarsveld, South Africa by three

“Where we believe the Springboks will have the decisive advantage is their bench. The ‘Bomb Squad’, as they’ve dubbed themselves, have been their ace in the hole at the World Cup, the six-two forwards-back cavalry going well beyond adding fresh impetus off the pine. They’ve wreaked havoc individually – RG Snyman, Francois Louw and 2007 World Cup winner Frans Steyn making big plays at crucial times with Herschel Jantjies waiting in the wings as an x-factor match-winner – and collectively, with the front-row combination of Steven Kitshoff, Malcolm Marx and Vincent Koch being just as well-oiled and dominant as the starting trio. It’s because of their superior depth that we are backing the underdog Springboks to come out on top in a hard-fought cliffhanger.” 

Gareth Jones, Sporting Life: England should win

“There is no such thing as a one-sided final, even with New Zealand’s dominance in over the last eight years. This game could turn on a red card, a controversial decision, a moment of magic or madness. But having built so well during this tournament, staying injury free and with the extra intelligence, experience and, let’s be honest, the sly element Jones brings to England, we should expect to see captain Owen Farrell lifting the William Webb Ellis trophy. England have proved they have absolutely everything in their arsenal and they still have more in the tank. They have the born winners in the likes of Farrell, George Ford and Jamie George and that is another factor in England’s favour. They should win.”

The Daily Telegraph: England by seven points 

“England must go into this match as favourites after defeating the All Blacks convincingly. South Africa will need to up their game after an underwhelming display against Wales.” 

Ash Wheldon, The Stats Zone: England to win

“England will get the chance to avenge their 2007 RWC final defeat to South Africa as the two nations square off again in Japan. The Springboks will prove a difficult opponent but having beaten the might of the All Blacks, the English will be confident and can lift the trophy for the second time. It will be important for England to keep their discipline and composure against the physical Springboks but if they can play their own game, they should be able to come out on top.”

Rohit Ponnaiya, England to win

“While South Africa should keep the score close early, expect England’s superior fitness and game management to help them pull away in the second half. With England peaking, back them to win their second World Cup.”

Rod Kafer, Fox Sports Australia: England 19 South Africa 15

“England will be prepared as well as any team has been prepared to play a final. If they can get back to last week’s intensity, they win comfortably. However, I am not certain that they can. England are not spent but the result will be closer than many think. England by four, 19-15.”

Steve Luckings, The National UAE: Jones to have last laugh

“A tight first half before England open up in the second to pull away by 7-10 points. England world champions for a second time.” 

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The 2019 Rugby World Cup logo on the pitchside flag

Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Pre-tournament predictions: who will win the RWC?

A look at the pundits who predicted England or South Africa to win the Rugby World Cup before the tournament started in Japan... 

Rob Kitson, The Guardian: South Africa

“South Africa, unless they are flattened in the final by a free-wheeling England team boasting even more dynamic power. The side that hits hardest for longest - with and without the ball - will ultimately prevail.”

Ben Kay, The Times: South Africa

“For the best part of four years I’ve said New Zealand but I’ve started to question that as I think South Africa may be coming good.”

Sam Warburton, The Times: South Africa

“Always in good shape for Lions tours and World Cups. Draw and win in past year against All Blacks will add confidence.”

Stuart Barnes, The Sunday Times: South Africa 

“They have the full range to win it. A solid defence, a pack with strength in depth, an in-form set of half-backs, a goal kicker and a little bit of magic in the back three.”

Stephen Jones, The Sunday Times: South Africa

“The Springboks have form and a talented and well-balanced team in their favour.”

Ireland legend Brian O’Driscoll, England 

“If it was put to me to pick one team, I think England are a team, right now, I would probably fancy for it. I think they are gearing up brilliantly, they’ve had a good run of form in 2019 with some really impressive displays. I just feel they have the game and the versatility of game to cope with anything that is thrown in.”

Mark Agnew, South China Morning Post: South Africa 

“South Africa have been going from strength to strength. They have a young team that look to be peaking at the perfect time. In fact, it’s so young, that even if they win the World Cup, they’ll probably peak afterwards just in time for the 2021 Lions Tour. Prediction: second in the pool but winners in the World Cup final.”

Bryan Habana, World Cup winner with South Africa: too close to call 

“It is probably the tightest World Cup we’ve ever had to call. Whoever’s at their best for that eight-week period, winning games against the best teams in the world will need to go on to win it. But given the current status of world rugby, I might actually put more money into cryptocurrency because that’s probably an easier bet at the moment.”

Bleacher Report’s prediction made in 2015: South Africa

“After crumbling to the Cherry Blossoms in arguably the biggest Rugby World Cup upset ever [in 2015], doesn’t it only seem fate-like that South Africa should storm back to grab redemption on Japanese soil in 2019?”

Rugby World Cup further reading

–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––For analysis of the biggest sport stories - and a concise, refreshing and balanced take on the week’s news - try The Week magazine. Get your first six issues for £6–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––


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