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Japan Rugby World Cup 2019: Verdict on tournament so far, and a look ahead to the knockout stages

The pool stage of the Rugby World Cup reached a thrilling climax on Sunday, when tournament hosts Japan beat Scotland 28-21.

It capped 40 thrilling matches of the tournament so far, leaving eight sides with their ambitions intact, and 12 not so lucky sides packing their bags and heading home.

Off the field its already been a hectic competition as matches have been called off due to extreme weather conditions, and now the World Cup is set to intensify more as we look ahead to the next three weeks of the knockout stages.

Quarter final draw:

England vs Australia

Ireland vs New Zealand

Wales vs France

Japan vs South Africa

The teams left in the tournament are as follows: Japan, South Africa, Wales, France, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia and England.

Despite booking their place in the quarter-finals, Eddie Jones’ England have somewhat underwhelmed fans – striking a vanilla tone with their performances. Jones’ tactics have been referred to as ‘old school, safe, comfortable’ whereas they entered the competition with high expectations as being one of the front runners of the tournament.

“We just need to simplify our game a little bit. With them having one off we were probably just trying to push the game a little bit too much and we’re a bit rusty after two easy games and a long break and that came out a bit. Second half we got a bit better rhythm.”

England manager Eddie Jones on his sides performance against Argentina

They’ve beaten Tonga, USA and Argentina so far, but if they want to be crowned World champions for a second time then performances in the England camp need to improve.

The Dark Horses award of the competition has to be given to tournament hosts Japan. A stunning victory over Scotland gave them every bit of hope that they can go on and win it. They’ve already muscled their way into the top tier of rugby nations beating Ireland and Scotland. Their determination and grit might just give them that extra edge.

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Wales, South Africa, New Zealand, France and Ireland all have lofty ambitions going into the knockout stages. Ireland strolled past Samoa 47-5 in their last match, and they face New Zealand next. The Kiwis demolished Namibia last time out 71-9. New Zealand will be hoping to make it four World Cup triumphs in Japan.

Wales take on France next, and Warren Gatland’s side will take confidence from their hard-fought victory over Argentina at the weekend. France on the other-hand will be thankful for making it to the knockouts, after they scraped past Tonga 23-21.

South Africa have already won two Webb Ellis Cups prior to the tournament in Japan, and Steve Hanson’s men finished second in their group. They strolled past Namibia 57-3, and they also beat Canada and Italy in the process.

It’s set to be another thrilling weekend in Japan, especially when England take on Australia in a repeat of the 2003 World Cup final.

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