The All Blacks will head into the 2015 Rugby World Cup as favourites and rightly so. They are just about the most dominant sports team of all time, and are more than capable of beating any other side on their day. That being said, they are still yet to claim a World Cup crown in Europe, and have a nasty habit of struggling on rugby’s biggest stage. Could it be that the hype gets the better of them once again?
It was only a few weeks ago that Ireland were ranked second in the world having just claimed their second successive Six Nations title. The impressive performances under Joe Schmidt have led many to tout Ireland as one of the favourites for the World Cup this year. Although you can’t write them off after a couple of disappointing results in warm up games, could it be that the weight of expectation gets the better of them?
As hosts of the tournament and just about the biggest rugby playing nation in the world, it was inevitable that England would be considered one of the hot favourites, even if the current side and recent results may have indicated otherwise. There’s no doubting that with a bit of luck Stuart Lancaster’s side could go all the way, but the reality is that an inexperienced and untested side may struggle, particularly in the latter stages of the competition.
This time last year, the Wallabies hopes of even making it out of the group stages were being all but written off. Roll on 12 months and a Rugby Championship title later and suddenly Michael Cheika’s team are being seen as one of the favourites for the crown. There’s no doubting they have come a long way in a very short space of time, but it’s hard to see how they can bounce back after such a disappointing couple of seasons.
It’s hard to call any of the tier two nations overhyped, but it seems like Samoa are being seen as one of the favourites to make it out of their group. This is a lot of pressure on a side who haven’t been performing at their best, and have had to deal with several notable absentees. Many fans have been quick to write Scotland’s chances off in the group, whilst the other teams in the group may not be the walkover results many expect.