The Springboks know how to put on a good show at these sorts of major events – and have two World Cup titles to show for their efforts. They are among the favourites this time around as well, more or less, but there are handful of other contenders that are not to be written off.
The All Blacks, of course, are always going to be in contention. They are not as seemingly invincible as they might have been in the past, but the New Zealand juggernaut is a thrill to a watch and sport plenty of intimidation for their opposition to ponder.
Those who are eager to learn more here and there about rugby union will also come to understand that Australia cannot be underestimated. Yes, they’ve had a rather poor run of results recently, but really there is a lot more to the Wallabies than winning and losing. They are patriotic to the nth degree and really know how to up their game when it comes to world tournaments. While they might fail in bilateral series and the Rugby Championship time and time again, they bring the proverbial heat in bigger contests.
The Five Nations has always been a good competition and has shown that some northern hemisphere teams know how to roll with the big boys in the south. Ireland are certainly the frontrunners here, having lined up a superb string of results of late. Then there’s France, Scotland, England and Wales. Of those four, England and France are at the fore, while Wales probably just pips Scotland to the post in terms of stronger odds for the World Cup.
Looking elsewhere, well, Italy and Argentina might spring a few surprises, but they are not going to upset more than one or two big guns. They have the fight and the spirit admirable in isolation, but stamina is lacking for a tournament that will span more than two or three matches each.
But fans and critics will always come back to the usual suspects when it comes to potentially predicting who will win the World Cup. To reiterate, there is largely no need to look past Ireland, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. If the right Springboks rock up on the day, then Cape Town, Johannesburg and surrounds can expect to be celebrating when the final whistle of the tournament is blown.