Over the next four years we could be set to see some landmark moments for rugby across the world, here are our 11 predictions ahead of the next World Cup…
1.The All Blacks will whitewash the Lions
Given the huge gulf in class between the All Blacks and any European nation it is hard to see The Lions making the necessary adjustments in the next 18 months to seriously challenge the All Blacks. It is therefore not unreasonable to predict the All Blacks will win the series 3-0 in 2017.
2.Scotland will win the Six Nations
After running an impressive Wallabies side so close during the World Cup quarterfinal contest, Scottish rugby looks set to step on again in the Six Nations. With sides like England and France struggling, 2016 could prove to be the year when everything aligns for Scotland to claim the title.
3.New Zealand will claim Olympic gold
With players like Sonny Bill Williams already committed to the New Zealand bid for Olympic sevens gold, the men in black are in a very strong position to kick on from their World Cup victory and make a mark on the biggest stage in world sports.
4.Argentina will claim the Super Rugby title
Given the success of Los Pumas over the past six months, and given the fact the majority of their international side will be playing Super Rugby together over the next four years, there is a good chance that the Argentinian Super Rugby side could claim the title in the next few years.
5.USA will be pushing for spot in world top 10
Although they lost every game in the 2015 World Cup, there is some momentum building in the USA with a domestic league looking likely, and top international sides touring. The increase interest will only benefit the national side who look set to kick on and make a mark soon.
6.Georgia will overtake Italy in the world rankings
There is no other way of looking at it, Italy were dismal during the 2015 World Cup, and look set to lose a host of stars to retirement in the next couple of years. Contrast that to Georgia who look to be on an upward curve and it’s easy to see the sides switching places in the world rankings.
7.Japan will claim another Tier 1 scalp
There’s no doubting that rugby looks set to explode in Japan after their exploits in 2015, especially with the country set to host the tournament in 2019. This should attract more games with Tier 1 nations, and it’s not difficult to predict Japan claiming a victory over at least one top side.
8.European super league will be formed
There is a growing divide occurring in the English Premiership and French Top 14 with certain club owners pushing for more autonomy. The only logical conclusion looks to be a split with the big spenders forming a European super league that will attract the world’s top stars.
9.Wallabies will claim the world number one spot
At this stage it looks fanciful that anyone could topple the All Blacks, but with Steve Hansen set to step down in 2017 and several top players retiring, the Wallabies under Michael Cheika are likely to challenge them on a more regular basis and could find themselves as the top team in the world.
10.France will drop out of the world top 10
Concerns have already been raised about the appointment of Guy Noves despite him not having even taken charge of a game yet, and given France’s dismal showing in 2015, it’s not hard to imagine Les Bleus continuing their slump through to the next World Cup.
11.Los Pumas will win the Rugby Championship
With the majority of the current Los Pumas sides set to be playing with one another every week in Super Rugby, it’s not too difficult to imagine an already much improved side claiming more victories in the Rugby Championship and possibly even claiming the title in a few years time.