The 9th edition of the Mondial starts Friday with a team from France who will try to be worthy of his elders, finalists in 1987, 1999 and 2011.


After being one of the revelations of the last World Cup, with a historic victory against South Africa, Japan is organizing, this time. Those nicknamed the Cherry Blossoms will open the 9th edition of the Rugby World Cup Friday (12.45 French time), against Russia at Tokyo Stadium, in a duel a priori unbalanced. From Saturday (9:15), it will be the turn of the Blues Jacques Brunel to be on the grill, with a first game already fiery against Argentina, still in Tokyo.

The Blues between two waters

It must be done. For many years now, the team of France is no longer part of the elite of world rugby. Since the World Cup 2011, the Blues, now 8th in the world rankings, accumulate disappointments, whether in the tournament of six nations - they have never managed to do better than 3rd in eight editions, in 2017 - or World Cup, with a humiliation suffered against the Blacks, four years ago, in 2015, in the quarterfinals (62-13, 49 points difference). Extra specificity this year: the coach Jacques Brunel, who has not managed to put the Blues back on track, despite some reasons for hope here and there, knows that he plays his last score and Fabien Galthie will succeed him. And that same Fabien Galthié has joined his staff before the World Cup ...

The program of the Blues during the group phase:

Saturday, September 21, 9:15 am (French time): France -Argentine
Wednesday, October 2, 9:45 am: France -United States
Sunday, October 6, 9:45 am: France -Tonga
Saturday, October 12, 10:15 am: England- France

In a word like a hundred, the Blues are not among the favorites of this World Cup, although they obviously have the qualities to get out of their hen, which account for England, Argentina, the United States and Tonga. A priori, the second place is promised to them, behind the XV of Rose, but beware, Argentina, that the Bleus will find at the beginning, remains dangerous, and Tonga had beaten the players of Marc Lievremont in 2011. But, this that year, when no one was waiting for them, the Blues went to the final, beaten only by the Blacks (8-7). So…

Blacks are less scared

Winners of the last two editions and absolute reference of the world of the oval, the All Blacks of New Zealand do not arrive in Japan on conquered ground. For the first time since 2004, they finished above 2nd place in the Rugby championship (the equivalent of a four-nation tournament for the Southern Hemisphere), a competition they had won six times over the past seven years. years. While World Cup requires, the competition has only counted three days (against six usually), but the Blacks have not shone, whether in Argentina (short victory 20-16), against the Africa of South (draw 16-16) or Australia (wide defeat 47-26).

But the return match of the Bledisloe Cup, August 17, against the Wallabies (36-0 victory!), Was able to restore confidence to Beauden Barrett and others before Japan. Nevertheless, the Blacks lost their World No. 1 status at the World Cup, bowing first place in the IRB ranking in Wales.

Wales, England, South Africa, Australia: full of ambition

Europe, missing the last square in 2015, can she hope to win a second World Cup after that of England in 2003? The best asset of the Old Continent will for sure be Wales. The Leek XV won the last Six Nations Tournament, with a Grand Slam to go, and can count on a found George North. Under the leadership of Australian coach Eddie Jones, England, the author of a catastrophic 2018 tournament (5th with three losses), lost twice this year in Cardiff, but remains a solid outsider, as Ireland, 4th world nation and author of the Grand Slam in 2018.

In the South, with the recent difficulties of the Blacks, the hierarchy is not necessarily very clear either. South Africa, ranked fifth in the world, has just won the Rugby championship, but without beating the Blacks, which the Wallabies of Australia have managed to do. The two biggest posters of this first round, New Zealand-South Africa, from Saturday (11:45), then Australia-Wales, Sunday, September 29 (9:45), will certainly say more about the forces involved.

Unchanged formula, still bonus points

The World Cup brings together 20 countries, divided into four pools from five countries. The first two of each group qualify for the quarterfinals, whose table is known in advance. Thus, France, if it qualifies, will "cross" with Pool D, which includes Australia and Wales. The calculation of points in the group stage remains the same: four points for a win, two for a draw, zero for a loss of eight or more points, one bonus point for a loss of seven points or less and one point. if the team scores four or more tries, these two points may be added.

These bonus points are not a detail. Ask Japan, who in 2015 was the first team eliminated after winning three of her five group matches because she had not scored any bonus point ...

One and a half months of competition, final on November 2nd

The Rugby World Cup, due to the recovery time required by this sport, lasts nearly a month and a half, between the opening game on Friday and the final, which will take place on November 2, not in Tokyo but in Yokohama. This staggering in time sometimes gives rise to amazing things. Thus, between their first game against Argentina, Saturday, and the second against the United States, October 2, the Blues will have eleven days of latency. And between the second and third, facing Tonga, the 6th, only four! The proof in figures that this World Cup will be won with a team of 31 players and not only 15 ...