Rugby Union World Cup team-by-team guide: Full squads and key players featuring England, New Zealand, Wales, Ireland, Scotland, South Africa, Australia and Japan

A guide to every nation competing at the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan

The Rugby World Cup begins in September in Japan and our team-by-team guide has details of every nation competing, including their tournament history and odds..


New Zealand

New Zealand lifted the 2015 World Cup in England

2015 World Cup: Winners

World Cups won: 3

Sky Bet odds to win World Cup: 5/4

Coach: Steve Hansen

Key player: Beauden Barrett - The All Blacks don't have many weaknesses but one is Barrett's inconsistent goal kicking. World class in every other area, his mis-firing boot has contributed to his side's downfall in more than a few matches over the last two years and this could be the chink in the armour others need.

Summary: The reigning champions are the only country to win the World Cup three times and also back-to-back, having won the inaugural tournament in 1987 and then in 2011 and 2015. The best team in the world, the country is rugby union obsessed - think Brazil in football. The favourites 'bottled' the 1999 and 2007 tournaments and looked destined to be stuck on one victory, however the 2011 success on home soil has broken the mental barriers and the feared All Blacks have almost been unbeatable ever since. Their preparation for Japan has not gone totally to plan, losing their Rugby Championship crown due to a draw with South Africa and a hammering by Australia, showing a rare lack of discipline and poor tackling. But equally they returned the favour to the Wallabies a week later smashing them 36-0, so they rightly remain favourites to win in Japan and it will be a shock if they don't.

Squad: Forwards: Dane Coles, Liam Coltman, Codie Taylor, Nepo Laulala, Joe Moody, Atu Moli, Angus Ta'avao, Ofa Tuungafasi, Scott Barrett, Brodie Retallick, Patrick Tuipulotu, Sam Whitelock, Sam Cane, Luke Jacobson, Kieran Read (capt), Ardie Savea, Matt Todd.

Backs: TJ Perenara, Aaron Smith, Brad Weber, Beauden Barrett, Richie Mo'unga, Ryan Crotty, Jack Goodhue, Anton Lienert-Brown, Sonny Bill Williams, Jordie Barrett, George Bridge, Rieko Ioane, Sevu Reece, Ben Smith.


Quick guide to the Pools

(video no longer available)


England

England captain Owen Farrell will look to inspire his side again in Japan

2015 World Cup: Group stage

World Cups won: 1

Sky Bet odds to win World Cup: 5/1

Coach: Eddie Jones

Key player: Manu Tuilagi - England are a different animal when they have all their big, powerful, best ball carriers fit and firing, as highlighted in these warm-up matches, and the Leicester centre is one of their best. Keeping him fit is key, after years of injury problems. He was the key man in England beating New Zealand in 2012 and one of the only players the Kiwis fear.

Summary: The 2003 World Cup winners are the biggest rugby playing nation in the world, but have struggled to turn that into consistent success at the very highest level, despite reaching the World Cup final on three occasions (1991, 2003, 2005). They were embarrassed at their own tournament in 2015, being knocked out in the group stages for the first time in their history. Having been crowned Six Nations Grand Slam champions in 2017 they looked back on track, but they've been inconsistent since and have failed to win the tournament again. Coach Eddie Jones expected his England side to be further ahead at this stage, despite a strong showing in their warm-up matches, but their mixed performances over the last 18 months continue to demonstrate why fans both feel rightly they are potential World Cup winners and at the same time fear another failure.

Squad: Forwards: Dan Cole (Leicester, 86 caps), Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter, 12), Tom Curry (Sale, 11), Ellis Genge (Leicester, 10), Jamie George (Saracens, 37), Maro Itoje (Saracens, 27), George Kruis (Saracens, 32), Joe Launchbury (Wasps, 59), Courtney Lawes (Northampton, 72), Lewis Ludlam (Northampton, 1), Joe Marler (Harlequins, 58), Kyle Sinckler (Harlequins, 22), Jack Singleton (Saracens, 1), Sam Underhill (Bath, 9), Billy Vunipola (Saracens, 42), Mako Vunipola (Saracens, 53), Mark Wilson (Newcastle/Sale, 13).

Backs: Joe Cokanasiga (Bath, 5), Elliot Daly (Saracens, 31), Owen Farrell (Saracens, 70), George Ford (Leicester Tigers, 56), Piers Francis (Northampton, 5), Willi Heinz (Gloucester, 1), Jonathan Joseph (Bath, 41), Jonny May (Leicester, 45), Ruaridh McConnochie (Bath, uncapped), Jack Nowell (Exeter, 33), Henry Slade (Exeter, 22), Manu Tuilagi (Leicester, 33), Anthony Watson (Bath, 34), Ben Youngs (Leicester, 86).


READ: Click here to read rugby expert Gareth Jones' predictions for the Rugby World Cup


Wales

Wales are the current Six Nations champions

2015 World Cup: Quarter-finals

World Cups won: 0

Sky Bet odds to win World Cup: 6/1

Coach: Warren Gatland

Key player: Jonathan Davies - the British and Irish Lions centre is a big game player and World Cups are his platform to shine. With creative fly-half Gareth Anscombe out injured, Davies will have to deliver the spark and out of the blue magic to make something happen out of nothing, which will be needed at some point.

Summary: Wales were crowned 2019 Six Nations champions thanks to a national record-breaking 14 match winning run, and were briefly ranked as the best team in the world in August 2019. Coach Warren Gatland, a double British Lions Tour coach, leaves his role after the tournament and the nation will feel they may never have a better chance of winning their first World Cup. A united team of warriors, their defence is the best in the world, have an excellent kicking game and seem to have forgotten how to lose. They are not specular, but very solid, and that's what wins World Cups.

Squad: Forwards: Jake Ball (Scarlets), Adam Beard (Ospreys), Rhys Carre (Saracens), James Davies (Scarlets), Elliot Dee (Dragons), Ryan Elias (Scarlets), Tomas Francis (Exeter), Cory Hill (Dragons), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys), Wyn Jones (Scarlets), Dillon Lewis (Cardiff Blues), Ross Moriarty (Dragons), Josh Navidi (Cardiff Blues), Ken Owens (Scarlets), Aaron Shingler (Scarlets), Nicky Smith (Ospreys), Justin Tipuric (Ospreys), Aaron Wainwright (Dragons).

Backs: Josh Adams (Cardiff Blues), Hallam Amos (Cardiff Blues), Dan Biggar (Northampton), Aled Davies (Ospreys), Gareth Davies (Scarlets), Jonathan Davies (Scarlets), Leigh Halfpenny (Scarlets), George North (Ospreys), Hadleigh Parkes (Scarlets), Rhys Patchell (Scarlets), Owen Watkin (Ospreys), Liam Williams (Saracens), Tomos Williams (Cardiff Blues).


Ireland

Ireland's Jonny Sexton was the 2018 World Rugby Player of the Year and will be key to their success in Japan

2015 World Cup: Quarter-finals

World Cups won: 0

Sky Bet odds to win World Cup: 7/1

Coach: Joe Schmidt

Key player: Jonathan Sexton - The fly-half is the current World Player of the Year, after his outstanding 2018. A brave runner. he takes the ball right to the line, freeing up his backs to fire in space. A composed goal kicker, Ireland are a different side when he is in the team, so keeping him fit is the number one focus for Ireland. A British and Irish Lion, a World Cup medal is the only accolade Sexton is missing.

Summary: The best team in the world in 2018, winning a Six Nations Grand Slam and beating New Zealand in Ireland for the first time in their history, in the process increasing belief that 2019 would be their year to go all the way in Japan. However, a disappointing 2019 Six Nations in terms of both results and performances mean expectations have been lowered slightly. Coach Joe Schmidt will leave after the tournament and if he can get Ireland back to their 2018 form then they can lift the William Webb Ellis Trophy. However, Ireland have a reputation of peaking between World Cups and thus have never progressed passed the quarter-finals.

Squad: Forwards: R Best (Ulster, capt), T Beirne (Munster), J Conan, S Cronin, T Furlong, C Healy (all Leinster), D Kilcoyne (Munster), I Henderson (Ulster), J Kleyn, P O'Mahony (both Munster), A Porter, R Ruddock, James Ryan (all Leinster), John Ryan, N Scannell, CJ Stander (all Munster), J Van Der Flier (Leinster).

Backs: B Aki (Connacht), J Carbery (Munster), J Carty (Connacht), A Conway, K Earls, C Farrell (all Munster), R Henshaw, R Kearney, J Larmour, L McGrath (all Leinster), C Murray (Munster), G Ringrose, J Sexton (both Leinster), J Stockdale (Ulster).


CLICK HERE: Full World Cup Guide - pools, fixtures, kick-off times, TV, history, video highights


Scotland

2015 World Cup: Quarter finals

World Cups won: 0

Sky Bet odds to win World Cup: 50/1

Coach: Gregor Townsend

Key player: Stuart Hogg - the full-back is the creative spark that can unlock any defence in the world, but he is injury prone. Keeping Hogg fit will have a big say on how Scotland progress.

Summary: Under Townsend, Scotland play an attractive, expansive game, however they lack depth and brute strength throughout their squad. The last year has also highlighted their weak game management and experience. Despite that they have really developed back into a strong side in recent years but remain someway off consistently competing with the top nations. They are hampered by a terrible away record, which means a World Cup in Japan could be one to forget. In the likes of Stuart Hogg and Finn Russell they have two of the most exciting backs in Europe. They love being underdogs and written off and that showed in 2015, when they shone to reach the quarter finals, where they lost to Australia due to an incorrect ref call.

Squad: Forwards: John Barclay (Edinburgh), Simon Berghan (Edinburgh), Fraser Brown (Glasgow Warriors), Scott Cummings (Glasgow Warriors), Allan Dell (London Irish), Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors), Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh), Jonny Gray (Glasgow Warriors), Stuart McInally (capt) (Edinburgh), WP Nel (Edinburgh), Gordon Reid (Ayrshire Bulls), Jamie Ritchie (Edinburgh), Blade Thomson (Scarlets), Ben Toolis (Edinburgh), George Turner (Glasgow Warriors), Hamish Watson (Edinburgh), Ryan Wilson (Glasgow Warriors).

Backs: Darcy Graham (Edinburgh), Chris Harris (Gloucester), Adam Hastings (Glasgow Warriors), Stuart Hogg (Exeter Chiefs), George Horne (Glasgow Warriors), Peter Horne (Glasgow Warriors), Sam Johnson (Glasgow Warriors), Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh), Greig Laidlaw (Clermont Auvergne), Sean Maitland (Saracens), Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors), Finn Russell (Racing 92), Tommy Seymour (Glasgow Warriors), Duncan Taylor (Saracens).


France

The French squad in their World Cup training camp

2015 World Cup: Quarter finals

World Cups won: 0

Sky Bet odds to win World Cup: 40/1

Coach: Jacques Brunel

Key player: Guilhem Guirado - World Cups for France are as much about the mood and relationships within the camp as anything on the pitch. As captain Guirado must ensure the players are as happy and united as possible to stop the French imploding.

Summary: The beautiful and unpredictable French have hit rock bottom in recent seasons. A terrible 2019 Six Nations confirmed their problems, as they lack a consistent game plan, a solid defence and the unity required to mix it with the very best. They were in a mess in 2011 too, but still reached the final, where they should have beaten hosts New Zealand, but since then they have gone further downhill. If they throw all caution to the wind they can still be great, but on the whole they are on the decline, as highlighted by their defeat to Fiji in 2018.

Squad: Forwards: Gregory Alldritt, Demba Bamba, Yacouba Camara, Camille Chat, Paul Gabrillagues, Guilhem Guirado (c), Arthur Iturria, Felix Lambey, Wenceslas Lauret, Bernard Le Roux, Peato Mauvaka, Jefferson Poirot, Louis Picamoles, Dany Priso, Emerick Setiano, Rabah Slimani, Sebastien Vahaamahina

Backs: Geoffrey Doumayrou, Antoine Dupont, Gael Fickou, Wesley Fofana, Sofiane Guitoune, Yoann Huget, Camille Lopez, Maxime Machenaud, Maxime Medard, Romain Ntamack, Damian Penaud, Alivereti Raka, Thomas Ramos, Baptiste Serin


Italy

Conor O'Shea is the Italy head coach, having previously coached Harlequins

2015 World Cup: Group stage

World Cups won: 0

Sky Bet odds to win World Cup: 500/1

Coach: Conor O'Shea

Key player: Tommaso Allan - Captain and legend Sergio Parisse remains the star man, but at 35 his impacted has reduced. Italy have lost a lot of close games due to both poor goal and tactical kicking, which comes down to fly-half Allan. So he needs to be perfect with the boot in Japan.

Summary: Introduced into the Six Nations in 2000 to help them become a global force, sadly Italy have fallen backwards in recent times, despite some improvement under O'Shea. They have finished bottom of the Six Nations 14 out of 19 times. Famously a strong pack, but inconsistent backs, Italy always work hard and pressure opponents, but lack the basic execution and decision making to hurt teams when they are on top.

Squad: Forwards: Luca Bigi, Dean Budd, Oliviero Fabiani, Simone Ferrari, Leonardo Ghiraldini, Andrea Lovotti, Maxime Mbanda, Sebastian Negri, Sergio Parisse, Tiziano Pasquali, Jake Polledri, Nicola Quaglio, Marco Riccioni, Federico Ruzza, David Sisi, Abraham Steyn, Federico Zani, Alessandro Zanni

Backs: Tommaso Allan, Mattia Bellini, Tommaso Benvenuti, Giulio Bisegni, Callum Braley, Michele Campagnaro, Carlo Canna, Jayden Hayward, Matteo Minozzi, Luca Morisi, Edoardo Padovani, Guglielmo Palazzani, Tito Tebaldi


READ: Tony Calvin's outright betting preview for the Rugby World Cup


South Africa

South Africa are one of the rare nations to defeat World Champions New Zealand in the last two years

2015 World Cup: Semi finals

World Cups won: 2

Sky Bet odds to win World Cup: 6/1

Coach: Rassie Erasmus

Key player: Faf de Klerk - the Sale scrum-half's development as arguable the best nine in the world has inspired his side's quick raise to World Cup contenders. Quick and clever, his distribution has given the Boks backs a new lease of life.

Summary: A year ago this felt a nation in transition with a new coach and captain, a young squad and a new focus on playing a more expansive game. But Rassie Erasmus, who took over in March 2018, will already feel the Springbok can win the World Cup for a third time after an unexpectedly impressive 2018 and 2019. They were the only team to beat New Zealand in the 2018 Rugby Championship and a draw with them in this year's event helped them win the Rugby Championship for the first time in 10 years. A side that at their best can win the World Cup, and are strong in all areas.

Squad: Forwards: Steven Kitshoff, Tendai Mtawarira, Schalk Brits, Malcolm Marx, Bongi Mbonambi, Vincent Koch, Frans Malherbe, Trevor Nyakane, Eben Etzebeth, Lood de Jager, Franco Mostert, RG Snyman, Siya Kolisi (c), Francois Louw, Kwagga Smith, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Duane Vermeulen.

Backs: Warrick Gelant, Willie le Roux, Cheslin Kolbe, Sibusiso Nkosi, Lukhanyo Am, Jesse Kriel, Damian de Allende, Francois Steyn, Makazole Mapimpi, Elton Jantjies, Handre Pollard, Herschel Jantjies, Faf de Klerk, Cobus Reinach.


Australia

Israel Folau will not play for Australia in Japan due to his controversial religious views

2015 World Cup: Finalists

World Cups won: 2

Sky Bet odds to win World Cup: 16/1

Coach: Michael Cheika

Key player: Michael Hooper / James O'Connor. Breakdown king Hooper can destroy an opponent's game plan single-handedly if he dominates the breakdown, stopping momentum of his rivals. O'Connor, a surprise recall to the Wallabies, has proven in their warm-up matches to be the missing link in the centres, bringing his side a new cutting edge in the backs.

Summary: Think Germany in football - no matter their previous form and squad quality a World Cup brings out the best in Australia and they are always there or thereabouts at the end of the tournament, as highlighted in 2015 when they reached the final, despite being written off beforehand. It looks like the pattern is repeating again. They've had an 18 months to forget on and off the pitch. They narrowly avoided finishing bottom of the 2018 Rugby Championship and endured a tough European tour last winter, losing to the likes of England and Wales. Off the pitch they sacked their best player Israel Folau for his outspoken anti-homosexual views. But all of a sudden they look strong again, thanks to a win over Argentina and a hammering of New Zealand in The Rugby Championship.

Squad: Forwards: Allan Alaalatoa, Rory Arnold, Adam Coleman, Jack Dempsey, Folau Fainga'a, Michael Hooper (captain), Sekope Kepu, Tolu Latu, Isi Naisarani, David Pocock, Izack Rodda, Rob Simmons, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Scott Sio, James Slipper, Taniela Tupou, Jordan Uelese.

Backs: Adam Ashley-Cooper, Kurtley Beale, Bernard Foley, Will Genia, Dane Haylett-Petty, Reece Hodge, Samu Kerevi, Marika Koroibete, Tevita Kuridrani, Christian Lealiifano, James O'Connor, Jordan Petaia, Matt Toomua, Nic White.


Argentina

Pablo Matera is the Argentina captain

2015 World Cup: Semi finals

World Cups won: 0

Sky Bet odds to win World Cup: 33/1

Coach: Mario Ledesma

Key player: Agustín Creevy - The hooker drives his powerful forwards onwards. Los Pumas relay so heavily on their set piece, so Creevy has to be constantly on his game to ensure a solid platform for his side to pressure their opponents.

Summary: Like Italy, Argentina were introduced to the Southern Hemisphere's Rugby Championship to allow them to mix it with the big boys and become a top rugby nation. They have fared much better than Italy in this respect, but are still the team that typically finishes bottom of that competition and have gone backwards in the past two years, as their new era of player fails to live up the legends that went before them. They pride themselves on fearsome forwards, exciting backs, and individually are one of the best tackling sides in the world, so when they get going they can challenge most sides. They have improved under new coach Mario Ledesma in the last 12 months, but three defeats from three in this year's Championship points to how far behind they remain. One word of note, they do normally peak for World Cups, having reached the semi-finals in 2015, where they should have beaten Australia.

Squad: Forwards: Matias Alemanno, Rodrigo Bruni, Agustin Creevy, Juan Figallo, Marcos Kremer, Tomas Lavanini, Juan Manuel Leguizamon, Tomas Lezana, Pablo Matera, Santiago Medrano, Julian Montoya, Javier Ortega Desio, Guido Petti, Enrique Pieretto, Santiago Socino, Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, Mayco Vivas

Backs: Emiliano Boffelli, Santiago Carreras, Juan Cruz Mallia, Tomas Cubelli, Jeronimo De La Fuente, Bautista Delguy, Felipe Ezcurra, Lucas Mensa, Matias Moroni, Ramiro Moyano, Matias Orlando, Nicolas Sanchez, Joaquin Tuculet, Benjamin Urdapilleta


Japan

Japan celebrate their win over South Africa in 2015 - rugby's biggest World Cup shock

2015 World Cup: Group stage

World Cups won: 0

Sky Bet odds to win World Cup: 150/1

Coach: Jamie Joseph

Key player: Michael Leitch - The talismanic captain is one of the most famous sporting faces in Japan and has played a major part of pushing Japan's claim to become a tier one nation. As a back rower, he drives Japan's energy and enthusiasm levels and will not take a step back.

Summary: The 2019 hosts, as the World Cup is played in Asia for the first time. The Brave Blossoms caused the greatest upset in World Cup history in 2015 when they beat giants South Africa, thanks to an injury-time try. Back then they were coached by Eddie Jones, the man at the helm of England now. They are still a minnow in rugby circles, but are serious about becoming a tier one nation sooner rather than later. They've beaten Tonga and Fiji in 2019, and Italy, Georgia and Russia in 2018. They also led England at Twickenham in November at half-time before losing 35-15. They are the reigning Pacific Cup champions and with a home crowd on their side they will be expecting to get out of the group stages at least.

Squad: Forwards: Keita Inagaki, Yusuke Kizu, Shogo Miura, Asaeli Ai Valu, Atsushi Sakate, Shota Horie, Kosuke Horikoshi, Luke Thompson, Wimpie Van Der Walt, Uwe Helu, James Moore, Hendrik Tui, Yoshitaka Tokunaga, Shunsuke Nunomaki, Michael Leitch, Pieter Labuschagne, Kazuki Himeno, Amanaki Lelei Mafi

Backs: Kaito Shigeno, Fumiaki Tanaka, Yutaka Nagare, Yu Tamura, Rikiya Matsuda, Kenki Fukuoka, Ataata Moeakiola, Lomano Lava Lemeki, William Tupou, Ryoto Nakamura, Timothy Lafaele, Kotaro Matsushima, Ryohei Yamanaka


Fiji

Wing Vereniki Goneva is one of Fiji's start players

2015 World Cup: Group stage: Group stage

World Cups won: 0

Sky Bet odds to win World Cup: 500/1

Coach: John McKee

Key player: Leone Nakarawa - The second row is the 2018 European Professional Rugby Player of the Year and won an Olympic Gold Medal in 2016 in rugby sevens. A big powerful runner, the 30-year-old also boasts incredible hands and is one of the best off-loaders in the game.

Summary: The nation everyone wants to watch and wishes their side where like, Fiji are the entertainers of the rugby world and play the game like no one else. Incredibly skilful and powerful, they play a beautiful style and with a smile on their face. They are the Olympic Sevens champions, but do not enjoy such success at XV's international level. This is down to a number of factors, including a lack of training time together, cohesion, game plan and discipline. They put more focus on their sevens game and lose a lot of players to other nations. They beat France in 2018 to prove on their day they can beat the tier one nations, and will be targeting second spot in their pool.

Squad: Forwards: Lee-Roy Atalifo, Tevita Cavubati, Mesulame Dolokoto, Semi Kunatani, Campese Ma’afu, Viliame Mata, Samuel Matavesi, Eroni Mawi, Leone Nakarawa, Api Ratuniyarawa, Tevita Ratuva, Peni Ravai, Manasa Saulo, Kalivati Tawake, Ratu Vere Vugakoto, Mosese Voka, Dominiko Waqaniburotu, Peceli Yato

Backs: Levani Botia, Vereniki Goneva, Frank Lomani, Joshua Matavesi, Nikola Matawalu, Kini Murimurivalu, Filipo Nakosi, Waisea Nayacalevu, Semi Radradra, Henry Seniloli, Josua Tuisova, Jale Vatubua, Alivereti Veitokani, Ben Volavola


Samoa

Samoa bring an unrivalled physicality to the game

2015 World Cup: Group stage

World Cups won: 0

Sky Bet odds to win World Cup: 500/1

Coach: Steve Jackson

Key player: Michael Alaalatoa - Getting the Crusaders prop to play international rugby for themselves, rather than Australia or New Zealand is a huge boost and he will bring much needed intelligence and technique to the Samoan set-piece

Summary: The name sends a shudder down the spine of opponents, as these boys have always been brutes. Physically almost perfect, they combine awesome power with great handling skills. However they are sadly a fading nation due to a lack of world support. Other nations regularly steal their players, and those left behind rarely get to practice together. That's shown by the fact they finished behind Tonga and Fiji in qualifying and had to beat Germany to reach Japan. In-game their physical dominance often goes over the top, with many red and yellow cards issued against them. With the new strict tackle laws, it means a lot of their traditional power tackling has been taken out of their game, which was one of their biggest weapons - much to the delight of opposition.

Squad: Forwards: Afaesetiti Amosa, TJ Ioane, Piula Fa’asalele, Josh Tyrell, Chris Vui, Teofilo Paulo, Kane Leaupepe, Senio Toleafoa, Michael Alaalatoa, Paul Alo-Emile, James Lay, Jordan Lay, Logovi’i Mulipola, Motu Matu’u, Ray Niuia, Seilala Lam

Backs: Ed Fidow, Tim Nanai-Williams, Ahsee Tuala, Belgium Tuatagaloa, Henry Taefu, Alapati Leiua, Reynold Lee-Lo, Kieron Fonotia, AJ Atatimu, Tusi Pisi, Ulupano Seuteni, Dwayne Polotaivao, Melani Matavao, Scott Malolua


Georgia

Tier two nation Georgia are a side that have developed well in recent years

2015 World Cup: Group stage

World Cups won: 0

Sky Bet odds to win World Cup: 750/1

Coach: Milton Haig

Key Player: Beka Gorgadze - Georgia have an awesome front row, but it is this young number eight that could steal the show. The 23 year old is learning his trade in France's Top 14 and his powerful ball carrying and energy will be needed to get his side on the front foot.

Summary: They are ranked above Italy in the world rankings and will see the World Cup as another platform to demonstrate they deserve more regular game time against tier-one nations and even a Six Nations place. Bank rolled by former prime minister Bidzina Ivanishvili, they are built on power with a fearsome pack, they live to scrummage and grind their opponents down. They won two group games in 2015, and have beaten the likes of Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, Canada and United States since. They will give bloody noses to the big boys in their group, if not more.

Squad: Forwards: Mikheil Nariashvili; Guram Gogichashvili; Shalva Mamukashvili; Jaba Bregvadze; Vano Karkadze; Levan Chilachava; Giorgi Melikidze; Beka Gigashvili; Giorgi Nemsadze; Shalva Sutiashvili; Mamuka Gorgodze; Kote Mikautadze; Giorgi Tkhilaishvili; Lasha Lomidze; Otar Giorgadze; Beka Gorgadze; Beka Saghinadze.

Backs: Sandro Todua; Soso Matiashvili; Mirian Modebadze; Zurab Dzneladze; Davit Katcharava; Merab Sharikadze; Tamaz Mtchedlidze; Giorgi Kveseladze; Lasha Malaghuradze; Lasha Khmaladze; Tedo Abzhandadze; Giorgi Begadze; Vasil Lobzhanidze; Gela Aprasidze.


Tonga

Sonatane Takulua is a key man for Tonga

2015 World Cup: Group stage

World Cups won: 0

Sky Bet odds to win World Cup: 750/1

Coach: Toutai Kefu

Key player: Tane Takulua - the jinking scrum-half adds spark to this powerful Tongan outfit and also kicks the goals

Summary: Very much like Samoa, the Sea Eagles have always been known for their fearsome tackling, strong running and clever hands. They have also lost a lot of their players to other nations, who manage to find a long lost grandmother that once drank a beer in their country. They reached the World Cup by finishing second in the Pacific Tri-Nations. They've lost to Samoa, Fiji and Japan in 2019, but beat Canada, which highlights where they are now.

Squad: Forwards: Siegfried Fisiihoi, Vunipola Fifita, Latu Talakai, Paula Ngauamo, Sosefo Sakalia, Siua Maile, Siua Halanukonuka, Ma'afu Fia, Ben Tameifuna, Sam Lousi, Leva Fifita, Sitiveni Mafi, Sione Kalamafoni, Maama Vaipulu, Fotu Lokotui, Zane Kapeli, Dan Faleafa, Nasi Manu

Backs: Sonatane Takulua, Leon 'Fukofuka, Samisoni Fisilau, Kurt Morath, James 'Faiva, Siale Piutau, Malietoa Hingano, Nafi Tuitavake, Atieli Pakalani, David Halaifonua, Viliami Lolohea, Cooper Vuna, Telusa Veainu


USA

Forward Samu Manoa in action for the USA Eagles

2015 World Cup: Group stage

World Cups won: 0

Sky Bet odds to win World Cup: 2000/1

Coach: Gary Gold

Key player: AJ MacGinty - The Sale Sharks fly-half has the experience, grounding and spark to move this team forward. He will be key to moving his side around the park and getting them to play in the right areas, as well as kicking in the key points, as he did in their recent win over Samoa.

Summary: A Rugby World Cup is a rare place, one where the USA actually win a lot of love, helped in the past by popular characters like Todd Clever and Blaine Scully. The Eagles squads are always littered with talented players who have successfully plied their trades in Europe's top leagues, but as a unit they lack the overall quality across the park to ever be a force or be close to causing real upsets. They lost every game in the 2015 World Cup, but did beat Scotland on home soil in 2018. They've beaten Canada and Samoa in their World Cup warmup matches, but lost to hosts Japan. A sport that domestically always threatens to go big, and now has a chance with their new pro Major League, and if it ever does then the USA could become strong very quickly, but we've been waiting for this to happen for three decades.

Squad: Forwards: David Ainu'u, Malon Al-Jiboori, Nate Brakeley, Nick Civetta, Cam Dolan, Dylan Fawsitt, Eric Fry, Hanco Germishuys, James Hilterbrand, Olive Kilifi, Tony Lamborn, Titi Lamositele, Ben Landry, Paul Mullen, Gregor Peterson, Ben Pinkelman, John Quill, Joseph Taufete'e

Backs: Blaine Scully, Nate Augspurger, Marcel Brache, Bryce Campbell, Shaun Davies, Ruben De Haas, Will Hooley, Martin Iosefo, Paul Lasike, AJ MacGinty, Will Magie, Thretton Palamo, Mike Te'o.


Canada

Tyler Ardron is action for Canada in the 2015 World Cup

2015 World Cup: Group stage

World Cups won: 0

Sky Bet odds to win World Cup: 2500/1

Coach: Kingsley Jones

Key player: Tyler Ardron - He lead by example in 2015 and inspires his side, covering both the second and back row. In 2018 Ardron signed for the Chiefs to become Canada’s first Super Rugby player to represent a New Zealand team, which highlights his quality.

Summary: They won't like the comparison, but they are very much like the USA. They are a likeable side, with a lot of goodwill toward them. They play with a lot of passion and hard work and have some notable names in their squad that have done well in Europe, but again lack the quality to ever be a tier one nation and they also lost every game in 2015, although they should have beaten Romania and Italy. In the 90s they threatened to be the next minnows to break into the top ranks, but they never kicked on and instead have gone backwards, despite being coached by the former Sale boss Kingsley Jones. They were the last team to qualify for Japan, taking the last spot through the repechage tournament with Hong Kong, Kenya and Germany and have lost all four warmup matches to date.

Squad: Forwards: Tyler Ardron, Kyle Baillie, Justin Blanchet, Hubert Buydens, Luke Campbell, Matt Heaton, Eric Howard, Jake Ilnicki, Cole Keith, Conor Keys, Evan Olmstead, Benoit Piffero, Andrew Quattrin, Lucas Rumball, Djustice Sears-Duru, Mike Sheppard, Matt Tierney.

Backs: Nick Blevins, Andrew Coe, Jeff Hassler, Ciaran Hearn, DTH van der Merwe, Ben LeSage, Jamie Mackenzie, Phil Mack, Gordon McRorie, Peter Nelson, Shane O'Leary, Pat Parfrey, Taylor Paris, Conor Trainor.


Russia

Yuri Kushnarev​ in action for Russia

2015 World Cup: DNQ

World Cups won: 0

Sky Bet odds to win World Cup: 2500/1

Coach: Lyn Jones

Key player: Yuri Kushnarev​ - The 34-year-old is a Russian stalwart, having won 11 Russian Championships and two European Rugby Continental Shields. His experience and calm head will be vital in steering his side around the park in this difficult group.

Summary: Coached by the former player Wales and Osprey's coach Lyn Jones, Russia are back at the World Cup after missing the 2015 campaign, having failed to qualify. They are in Japan in controversial circumstances, after Belgium, Romania and Spain were all kicked out after fielding ineligible players during the qualifying stages. Russia, having finished third in qualifying and losing narrowly to both Spain and Romania, were promoted to the World Cup. Their one and only tournament appearance was in 2011 in New Zealand where they lost all four group games, but earned a bonus point against the USA. In their World Cup warmups they have been beaten by English second tier outfit Jersey Reds.

Squad: Forwards: Vasily Artemyev, German Davydov, Vasily Dorofeev, Igor Galinovsky, Ramil Gaysin, Dmitry Gerasimov, German Godluk, Kirill Golosnitsky, Yuri Kushnarev, Vladimir Ostroushko, Dmitry Perov, Denis Simplikevich, Vladislav Sozonov, Sergey Yanyushkin

Backs: Azamat Bitiev, Sergey Chernyshev, Bogdan Fedotko, Tagir Gadzhiev, Andrey Garbuzov, Kirill Gotovtsev, Victor Gresev, Roman Khodin, Evgeny Matveev, Valery Morozov, Andrey Ostrikov, Vladimir Podrezov, Andrey Polivalov, Stanislav Selsky, Anton Sychev, Nikita Vavilin, Evgeny Yelgin, Vitaliy Zhivatov


Uruguay

Felipe Berchesi of Uruguay

2015 World Cup: Group stage

World Cups won: 0

Sky Bet odds to win World Cup: 2500/1

Coach: Esteban Meneses

Summary: Currently ranked 19th in the world, Uruguay have qualified for the World Cup four times in total, in 1999, 2003, 2015 and now 2019. In the Americas rankings they sit behind tier one nation Argentina and fellow tier two outfit USA. They beat Russia in the final qualifying play-off to reach the 2015 competition and a play-off win over Canada ensured a trip to Japan. They've won five of their seven matches this year, including wins over Chile, Brazil and Russia.

Squad: Forwards: Facundo Gattas, Joaquín Jaunsolo, Mateo Sanguinetti, Germán Kessler, Guillermo Pujadas, Diego Arbelo, Juan Echeverría, Juan Pedro Rombys, Ignacio Dotti, Manuel Leindekar, Diego Magno, Franco Lamana, Manuel Ardao, Santiago Civetta, Manuel Diana, Juan Manuel Gaminara (c), Juan Diego Ormaechea, Alejandro Nieto

Backs: Agustín Ormaechea, Santiago Arata, Felipe Berchesi, Felipe Etcheverry, Juan Manuel Cat, Santiago Vilaseca, Agustín Della Corte, Tomás Inciarte, Federico Favaro, Nicolás Freitas, Leandro Leivas, Gastón Mieres, Rodrigo Silva


Namibia

Namibia will hope Japan will be the venue of their first World Cup win

2015 World Cup: Group stage

World Cups won: 0

Sky Bet odds to win World Cup: 5000/1

Coach: Philip Davies

Key player: Johan Deysel - Captain and a World Cup veteran, who famously scored against New Zealand in 2015, will be the driving force in Namibia's midfield. He has quality and experience, having played for the Sharks and now Colomiers in France.

Summary: Coached by the former Wales player and Leeds Tykes head coach Phil Davies, Namibia first appeared at the World Cup in 1999, having only started playing the game internationally in 1990. This will be their sixth World Cup, yet they are still searching for their first win. They were unlucky not to earn that in 2015, losing 17-16 to Georgia, while their record defeat is 142–0 to Australia in 2003. They are currently ranked 23rd in the world. They've beaten Uruguay this year, but lost to Russia.

Squad: Forwards: Obert Nortje, Louis van der Westhuizen, Torsten van Jaarsveld, Aranos Coetzee, AJ de Klerk, André Rademeyer, Desiderius Sethie, Nelius Theron, Johan Retief, Tjiuee Uanivi, PJ van Lill, Adriaan Booysen, Wian Conradie, Thomasau Forbes, Prince Gaoseb, Max Katjijeko, Rohan Kitshoff, Janco Venter.

Backs: Helarius Kisting, Lesley Klim, PJ Walters, Chad Plato, Johann Tromp, Darryl de la Harpe, Johan Deysel, JC Greyling, Justin Newman, Janry du Toit, Cliven Loubser, Eugene Jantjies, Damian Stevens.

More Rugby World Cup content

Like what you've read?
Help your friends Know It All by sharing this article to your social media.

Most Read