2011 Rugby World Cup Quarter Finals – Preview and Betting Tips

The 2011 Rugby World Cup enters the business stage of the tournament with the knockout semi-finals this weekend. Because of Australia’s slip against Ireland, the quarter finals draw is split with the northern hemisphere teams on one half and the southern hemisphere sides on the other. Below is the draw:

Ireland vs Wales (4:00 PM AEDT, Sat, Oct 8th, Wellington)
England vs France (6:30 PM AEDT, (Sat, Oct 8th, Auckland)

South Africa vs Australia (4:00 PM AEDT, Sun, Oct 9th, Wellington)
New Zealand vs Argentina (6:30 PM AEDT, Sun, Oct 9th, Auckland)

While the All Blacks should have no problems against Argentina, all three other fixtures could go either way, which makes for an exciting weekend of rugby. Below are game previews and tips for each fixture. Use the anchor links below, or scroll down the page to read each preview.

Ireland vs Wales
England vs France
South Africa vs Australia
New Zealand vs Argentina

Ireland vs Wales

Group Stage Results

Ireland qualified by winning Pool C. Their results were:
Ireland 22-10 USA
Ireland 15-6 Australia
Ireland 62-12 Russia
Ireland 36-6 Italy

Wales qualified as the runner up in Pool D. Their results were:
Wales 16-17 South Africa
Wales 17-10 Samoa
Wales 81-7 Namibia
Wales 66-0 Fiji

Both sides have shown impressive form this tournament. Ireland caused an upset by grinding out a kicking win over Australia, while Wales were arguably unlucky not to win against South Africa. Ireland and Wales have been strong in defence, giving up 3 and 4 tries, respectively. Only New Zealand have scored more points in the tournament than Wales thus far.

Recent Head to Head History

Mar 2011 6 Nations Wales 19 – 13 Ireland
Mar 2010 6 Nations Ireland 27 – 12 Wales
Mar 2009 6 Nations Wales 15 – 17 Ireland
Mar 2008 6 Nations Ireland 12 – 16 Wales


Ireland: Robert Kearney; Tommy Bowe, Brian O’Driscoll (captain), Gordon D’Arcy, Keith Earls; Ronan O’Gara, Conor Murray; Jamie Heaslip, Sean O’Brien, Stephen Ferris; Paul O’Connell, Donncha O’Callaghan; Mike Ross, Rory Best, Cian Healy.
Bench: Sean Cronin, Tom Court, Donnacha Ryan, Denis Leamy, Eoin Reddan, Jonathan Sexton, Andrew Trimble.

Wales: Leigh Halfpenny; George North, Jonathan Davies, Jamie Roberts, Shane Williams; Rhys Priestland, Mike Phillips; Toby Faletau, Sam Warburton (captain), Dan Lydiate; Alun-Wyn Jones, Luke Charteris; Adam Jones, Huw Bennett, Gethin Jenkins.
Bench: Lloyd Burns, Paul James, Bradley Davies, Ryan Jones, Lloyd Williams, James Hook, Scott Williams.

Game Preview

Both sides have shown impressive form during the Pool stage. Wales’ ability to keep Fiji scoreless and Ireland’s defeat of Australia were two of the highlights. Interestingly, the NZ born Welsh coach Warren Gatland has opted for a youthful squad while Ireland have opted for experience. I think this game will start with a typical northern hemisphere kicking competition, with penalty goals and drop goals separating the two sides at half time. Hopefully for the neutral the game will open up a bit more in the second half, with the first team to score a try likely to go on and take victory.


bet365 odds    Ireland   Wales 
Head to head    1.72   2.25  
Line   (-2.5) 1.90     (+2.5) 1.90  

I think either team could take this one, and with so much at stake I anticipate a tight affair with neither side being blown away. I give both sides equal chance of winning, so I’m going to lean towards Wales simply because they offer the better odds. Below are some betting suggestions, depending on how aggressive you wish to be:

  • Very conservative: back both Ireland to win (1.72) and Wales to win by 1-12 (2.75) (i.e. $6.15 on Ireleand and $3.85 on Wales 1-12 for around a $0.59 profit if either gets up)
  • Conservative: back both Ireland 1-12 (2.60) and Wales 1-12 (2.75)
  • Moderate: back Wales to win (2.25)
  • Aggressive: back Wales to win by 1-12 (2.75)
  • Very aggressive: back two double results: tie-Ireland (17.00) and tie-Wales (19.00)

England vs France

Group Stage Results

England qualified as the winner of Pool B. Their results were:
England 13-9 Argentina
England 41-10 Georgia
England 67-3 Romania
England 16-12 Scotland

France qualified as the runner up in Pool A. Their results were:
France 47-21 Japan
France 46-19 Canada
France 17-37 New Zealand
France 14-19 Tonga

As the only team to qualify after losing two games, France should consider themselves lucky to be in the quarter finals. Tonga’s upset loss to Canada enabled France to qualify due to having accumulated more bonus points. England have not won any fans, both at home and abroad, with their play on the field and antics off it. The 16-12 result against Scotland is disturbing, simply because I don’t rate Scotland at all. I would not be surprised if the winner of this game loses to the winner of Ireland vs Wales.

Recent Head to Head History

Feb 2011 6 Nations England 17 – 9 France
Mar 2010 6 Nations France 12 – 10 England
Mar 2009 6 Nations England 34 – 10 France
Mar 2008 6 Nations France 13 – 24 England


England: Ben Foden; Chris Ashton, Manu Tuilagi, Toby Flood, Mark Cueto; Jonny Wilkinson, Ben Youngs; Nick Easter, Lewis Moody (captain), Tom Croft; Tom Palmer, Louis Deacon; Dan Cole, Steve Thompson, Matt Stevens.
Bench: Dylan Hartley, Alex Corbisiero, Courtney Lawes, Simon Shaw, James Haskell, Richard Wigglesworth, Matt Banahan.

France: Maxime Medard; Vincent Clerc, Aurelien Rougerie, Maxime Mermoz, Alexis Palisson; Morgan Parra, Dimitri Yachvili; Imanol Harinordoquy, Julien Bonnaire, Thierry Dusautoir (captain); Lionel Nallet, Pascal Pape; Nicolas Mas, William Servat, Jean-Baptiste Poux.
Bench: Dimitri Szarzewski, Fabien Barcella, Julien Pierre, Louis Picamoles, Francois Trinh-Duc, David Marty, Cedric Heymans.

Game Preview

I’m expecting another northern hemisphere kicking exhibition here, particularly in the first half. Like the Ireland vs Wales game, I expect a try or two to be scored in the second half, with the better of the two teams pulling away for victory.

It’s hard to be optimistic about France’s chances here. They were given a scare by Japan before running away winners. The 37-17 score line against the All Blacks is flattering. One try should never been awarded and the second try was scored as a result of an intercept pass when the All Blacks were playing in second gear with the game already wound up. Finally, France never showed up against a fired up Tonga side, and again scored a last minute try to provide a more respectable score line.


bet365 odds    England   France 
Head to head    1.53   2.75  
Line   (-4.5) 1.90     (+4.5) 1.90  

I reckon England will win this one, with a score line similar to their Six Nations fixture in February. Below are some betting suggestions, depending on how aggressive you wish to be:

  • Very conservative: back England to win (1.53) and France to win by 1-12 (3.20) (i.e. $6.77 on England and $3.23 on France 1-12 for around a $0.35 profit if either gets up)
  • Conservative: back England to win (1.53)
  • Moderate: back England -4.5 (1.90)
  • Aggressive: back England to win 1-12 (2.60)
  • Very aggressive: back the double result: tie-England (19.00)

South Africa vs Australia

Group Stage Results

South Africa qualified as the winner of Pool D. Their results were:
South Africa 17-16 Wales
South Africa 49-3 Fiji
South Africa 87-0 Namibia
South Africa 13-5 Samoa

Australia qualified as the runner up in Pool C. Their results were:
Australia 32-6 Italy
Australia 6-15 Ireland
Australia 67-5 USA
Australia 68-22 Russia

I was surprised to see how hard South Africa were pushed by Wales, but in hindsight, Wales look to be a very good team this tournament. They were also pushed hard by a Samoan side that beat Australia earlier this year. Australia’s results were all business as usual with the exception of the disappointing loss to Ireland. No team has ever lost a game in the group stage and gone on to win the tournament, and Australia’s knockout fixture list looks daunting. If they can get past South Africa it will most likely be the All Blacks lying in wait.

Recent Head to Head History

It’s hard to look too much into the 2011 results because South Africa sent a second string side to Australia. Also South Africa’s home game against Australia was effectively the first game of the season for their first string team.

Aug 2011 Tri Nations South Africa 9 – 14 Australia
Jul 2011 Tri Nations Australia 39 – 20 South Africa
Sep 2010 Tri Nations South Africa 39 – 41 Australia
Aug 2010 Tri Nations South Africa 44 – 31 Australia
Jul 2010 Tri Nations Australia 30 – 13 South Africa


South Africa: Patrick Lambie; J.P. Pietersen, Jaque Fourie, Jean de Villiers, Bryan Habana; Morne Steyn, Fourie du Preez; Pierre Spies, Schalk Burger, Heinrich Brussow; Victor Matfield, Danie Rossouw; Jannie du Plessis, John Smit (captain), Gurthro Steenkamp.
Bench: Bismarck du Plessis, C.J. van der Linde, Willem Alberts, Francois Louw, Francois Hougaard, Butch James, Gio Aplon

Australia: Kurtley Beale, James O’Connor, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Pat McCabe, Digby Ioane, Quade Cooper, Will Genia, Radike Samo, David Pocock, Rocky Elsom, James Horwill (c), Dan Vickerman, Ben Alexander, Stephen Moore, Sekope Kepu.
Bench: Tatafu Polota Nau, James Slipper, Nathan Sharpe, Ben McCalman, Luke Burgess, Berrick Barnes, Anthony Fainga’a.

Game Preview

Of the four quarter finals this weekend, this is the one I find hardest to pick. Australia have dominated recent results between the two sides, but the South Africans have some cunning old heads with a lot of world cup experience in their squad, while Australia is a relatively young team. The Wallabies camp has indicated it will use more of a kicking based game this weekend, acknowledging that recent history indicates this is the way to win a World Cup. South Africa are more adapt to playing that style of rugby, however, so Australia’s intent to deviate from free flowing rugby could backfire.


bet365 odds    South Africa   Australia 
Head to head    2.10   1.83  
Line   (+1.5) 1.80     (-1.5) 2.00  

This is a really tough game to call. Had it been a Tri Nations fixture I would back Australia, but the pressure of the World Cup and the wet Wellington conditions changes things. I can’t pick a winner here, but I predict that if South Africa wins, it will most likely be by 1-12.

  • Conservative: back both teams to win 1-12 (2.75 each)
  • Aggressive: back South Africa to win 1-12 (2.75)

New Zealand vs Argentina

Group Stage Results

New Zealand qualified as the winner of Pool A. Their results were:
New Zealand 41-10 Tonga
New Zealand 83-7 Japan
New Zealand 37-17 France
New Zealand 79-15 Canada

Argentina qualified as the runner up in Pool B. Their results were:
Argentina 9-13 England
Argentina 43-8 Romania
Argentina 13-12 Scotland
Argentina 25-7 Georgia

Argentina had the fight of their lives to qualify for the knockouts, defeating Scotland 13-12 to do so. New Zealand strolled into the knockout stage, which can count against them, because the side has yet to play in a tight game. In 2007 New Zealand stormed into the quarters only to lose to France in their first real test of the tournament, so they will be wary of the teams they should beat in the knockouts. New Zealand have scored by far and away the most points this tournament, but seven other sides have conceded the same or less points than the All Blacks.

Recent Head to Head History

When playing in Argentina, the All Blacks have been pushed hard, while Argentina have been push overs when playing in New Zealand.

Jun 2006 Test Match Argentina 19 – 25 New Zealand
Jun 2004 Test Match New Zealand 41- 7 Argentina
Dec 2001 Test Match Argentina 20 – 24 New Zealand
Jun 2001 Test Match New Zealand 67- 19 Argentina


New Zealand: Mils Muliaina; Cory Jane, Conrad Smith, Ma’a Nonu, Sonny Bill Williams; Colin Slade, Piri Weepu; Kieran Read, Richie McCaw (captain), Jerome Kaino; Sam Whitelock, Brad Thorn; Owen Franks, Keven Mealamu, Tony Woodcock.
Bench: Andrew Hore, Ben Franks, Ali Williams, Victor Vito, Jimmy Cowan, Aaron Cruden, Isaia Toeava.

Argentina: Martin Rodriguez; Gonzalo Camacho, Marcelo Bosch, Felipe Contepomi (capt), Horacio Agulla; Santiago Fernandez, Nicolas Vergallo; Leonardo Senatore, Juan Manuel Leguizamon, Julio Farias Cabello; Patricio Albacete, Manuel Carizza; Juan Figallo, Mario Ledesma, Rodrigo Roncero.
Bench: Agustin Creevy, Martin Scelzo, Marcos Ayerza, Alejandro Campos, Alfredo Lalanne, Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino, Juan Jose Imhoff

Game Preview

This game could provide the most open and flowing rugby of the quarter finals fixtures. New Zealand has been mourning the loss of Dan Carter, but the likes of Colin Slade and Piri Weepu should provide more than adequate cover against Argentina. The same may not be said if they play the likes of South Africa and Australia, however.


bet365 odds    New Zealand   Argentina 
Head to head    1.012   23.00  
Line   (-26.5) 1.90     (+26.5) 1.90  

This is a tough game to bet on because New Zealand’s head to head odds are sow low and because the line odds look just about right. Given the game is being played in New Zealand, I’m still inclined to take the All Blacks at the line. This is still a risky bet, I must point out, because while I back New Zealand to score plenty of points, their defence does become leaky once they’ve built a large lead. You may want to hunt around instead for wagers on total points rather than points differences.

  • Very conservative: double result: New Zealand-New Zealand (1.05)
  • Moderate: back New Zealand -26.5 (1.90)
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