Referees favour successful teams, says Springboks coach

Former Springboks captain's Wynand Claassen Warren Whiteley and Antonie Claassen at World of Rugby

Rugby World Cup 2019 preview: Rating all 20 nations' chances

But I do think the top eight teams in the world rankings now will make the knockout stage.

"It's tough to measure Yu's performance against South Africa.they are a quality team", said Brown. That competitiveness is working in rugby and our players are no longer in awe of an All Black because they've been through that experience of playing against them. The flyhalf gave a below-performance against South Africa in the Brave Blossoms' final warm-up game, but he remains a favorite of the coaching staff, having played in more test matches than any other player in Joseph's tenure with 20 to his name. I think it is (the) Japanese who should feel anxiety as hosts. That's before you consider the likes of France - historically a strong performer at World Cups - and Argentina, always competitive with the world's best sides. They have a very structured, organised game. "It's a dream match", he said of the tournament opener.

Indeed, referee Jerome Garces found himself to be the focus of what appeared to be some pre-match mind games on Erasmus' part.

In Japan, tattooed people are often prohibited from entering some bathhouses, pools and hot springs, but in Samoa, the word tattoo is linked to the Samoan word "tatau", Samoa team manager Va'elua Aloi Alesana told the Rugby World Cup website.

The sport is reeling after Wales assistant coach Rob Howley was sent home as he is being investigated for an alleged breach of the regulations. That kind of disruption does have the potential to unsettle the squad.

Leitch says his players are happy to live with heightened pressure and have their sights firmly set on making the quarterfinals for the first time.

AB de Villiers. AFP  File  Glyn KIRK
AB de Villiers. AFP File Glyn KIRK

"They have emerged together over the past 18 months as our game has developed and matured".

There could be red cards galore with the uncertainty around how the high tackle framework will be implemented by different referees, which would throw the most open World Cup ever even more wide open.

"There's the expectations of the team and also that of the Japanese people so I want to play well. I'm trying to get a new title for my rugby career".

New Zealand wingers obviously tend to score a bucket load of tries and they have got Namibia, Canada and Italy in their pool.

Fiji coach John McKee: "We know Australia are a very good team and present a big challenge for us but, because of our preparation, I know that our team is mentally and physically ready for that challenge".

It sounds unusual to call him a breakthrough player really, given what he's done in the Top 14 in recent years, but France's new Fijian Alivereti Raka hasn't been seen on the world stage yet and he is one of the deadliest wingers in the game. "Because you are playing so well, referees tend to nearly find it tough to penalise you in 50-50 decisions".

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