With just over 100 days until the Rugby World Cup 2019 gets underway, bookmakers across the globe will be getting their markets in order as they try to entice those punters who bet with their hearts.
Odds, however, can sometimes seem a little arbitrary, not really painting a picture of how easy or difficult a task is. So, in light of that, we are going to provide some real word probability to each nation’s chances.
For New Zealand, it’s simple: The All Blacks chances are rated about the same as you have of guessing correctly heads or tails in a single coin toss. New Zealand are obviously favourites, but they are also at least just as likely not to win, so teams should probably bear that in mind.
Get a friend to hold their one hand behind their back, then guess correctly how many fingers (and thumb) they are holding up. England have a similar chance. They’ll be quite happy with that with respect to how they were playing a year ago.
Ireland, who have had some issues of late, have the same probability as you have correctly guessing the correct day of the week that a random person was born on. For Wales, a spider is wearing eight shoes, one with a lucky coin underneath: Your chances of guessing are the same as the recently crowned Six Nations champions going all the way in Japan.
Springboks need divine inspiration
For South Africa, we will consider something otherworldly: The Norse god Odin is travelling to one of the nine worlds in the mythological universe. Your chances of guessing the right one is the same as the what the bookies give the Springboks of success.
I’m thinking of a rugby player* who was in the starting line-up for South Africa in the 2007 Rugby World Cup Final. Your chance of guessing correctly match the probability of the Wallabies winning the World Cup. For the French, it’s February and it’s a leap year: The probability of France winning the World Cup is the same as you are being able to guess a random date in that month.
You are playing roulette at Mansion Casino South Africa. Your chances of hitting a number straight up are the same as the Scottish winning a first World Cup. A little tougher for Argentina, as the Pumas chances are around the same as you are being able to predict the identity of a single card from a deck.
Japan have it tough
The hosts chances are the same as you have of being able to guess any random year between now and when James Watt patented the steam engine (1769). Correctly predict any random date in the last three years, and you would have a similar probability to a team like Italy, Tonga, Samoa or Fiji winning the World Cup.
For the USA, it’s even tougher, similar to guessing a random card from a deck correctly – twice in succession. Russia, Uruguay and Namibia are the rank outsiders, with a real-world probability similar to guessing any random date between now and Thabo Mbeki’s second election victory.
Overall, it shows how difficult it is implied for the ‘weaker’ nations, but it also implies that it is not guaranteed for the favourites. In particular, teams facing New Zealand should keep in mind that their chances of not going all the way are just as high as them falling at some stage. For South Africa, a bit of luck might be needed – but a one in nine chance has proven enough in sports time and time again, and things seem to be picking up at the right time.
*If you were wondering, it was Butch James.