Whilst it seems the majority of the teams in the world have improved since the last World Cup in 2011, we take a look at five who look like they may have regressed…
Injuries are currently playing a huge part in South Africa’s woes, however even that cannot atone for their recent issues which saw them lose five games on the bounce and cemented their place at the bottom of the Rugby Championship table.
It seems that Heyneke Meyer is still struggling to decide who his first choice player is in a number of positions, whilst there is also a significant amount of reliance on players who have maybe declined slightly as a result of age.
The problem with France is that you just never know – despite having been appalling for the last four years, they could turn up to the World Cup next month and somehow amble their way to the fina. That being said, on recent form it doesn’t look too likely.
Whilst their most recent game against England suggested they could be improving, recent performances indicate they still have a long ways to go. Relying on a power play style and lacking flair, they could be set to struggle.
There have been some positives for Italy having found a number of young backs who look like they could have a bright future. Unfortunately, the 2015 World Cup looks like it could have come a few years too early for many to peak.
Italy also have the issue of a number of their most experienced players beginning to see a decline in performances. They also look a pale shadow of themselves when captain Sergio Parisse is unavailable to play.
Having lost out to Fiji in the Pacific Nations Cup, there have to be a few concerns over whether or not Samoa are quite the team they were a few years ago. Internal fighting between the union and players haven’t helped.
Although they still have a number of standout players in the likes of Kahn Fotuali’i, there will be serious concerns about a lack of quality in key areas. This isn’t to say Samoa are a poor team, simply that they aren’t the side they used to be.
Probably the most contentious choice on the list, but there have to be some concerns over the quality of the current Welsh squad. Last time round Wales surprised many, however it’s hard to see the current side matching the 2011 sides exploits.
A number of their most experienced players have been dropped for a loss of form, or inability to fit into Warren Gatland’s systems, potentially leaving them lacking key leaders on the field which could prove to be an issue.