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The Rugby World Cup 2019: Week five

Alun Wyn Jones
Alun Wyn Jones

By Staff Reporter

This article has been specially written for thousands of Key Stage 2 pupils from across Northern Ireland who are taking part in the Belfast Telegraph ‘Love To Learn’ project themed on the Rugby World Cup 2019.

Teams to watch

The obvious favourite to win the 2019 Rugby World Cup is New Zealand, closely followed by England, Ireland, Wales or South Africa, but people love to cheer for the underdog. Let’s take a look at the teams who might be in with a chance:


Known as The Wallabies, Australia have made it to the knockout round of every World Cup to date, making them one of the nations to watch closely as the Rugby World Cup 2019 comes down to the knockout stages.

Australia were the first nation to win two World Cups, with victories in 1991 and 1999. With inside-centre Kerevi rated the most damaging ball runner in Super Rugby this year, opposing teams definitely have one to watch out for.

The Wallabies finished second in Pool D after defeat by Wales and wins over Fiji, Uruguay and Georgia.


While France are not expected to win the tournament, history would suggest that they usually perform better when they are not expected to.

The France national rugby team have competed in all the Rugby World Cup tournaments, having been runners-up in 1987, 1999 and 2011. France came second in Pool C behind England and will now face Wales in the quarter finals.

Due to the mostly blue strip, the French team currently wears, the team is now often referred to as les Bleus (the Blues), like many other French sporting teams.


The fact that Japan is the home nation gives them an automatic advantage over visiting nations.

The Japanese side will be more acclimatised to the heat and humidity than the other teams (bar Samoa) and will having been perfecting their fast-paced style of rugby in those conditions for some time.

Japan’s victory against South Africa in the 2015 Rugby World Cup gave them a new-found confidence in their capabilities and made other teams more fearful of playing them.

Players to watch

In the player profiles each week you will have read about some of the top players from different countries. Now take a look at some of the up and coming talent you can expect to see at the 2019 Rugby World Cup:

Jacob Stockdale:

Country: Ireland

DOB: April 3, 1996

Height: 1.89m

Weight: 103kg

Jacob Stockdale is from Northern

Ireland. Scouted from Lurgan Rugby Club, he currently plays club

rugby for Ulster and for the national Ireland team.

In May 2017 Stockdale was named in the Ireland squad for the summer tour and in June 2017 he made his senior international debut.

Stockdale played his first home game for Ireland in November 2017 against South Africa, scoring a try in the game.

Two weeks later he was awarded man of the match after scoring two tries in Ireland’s victory over Argentina. 

In the 2018 Six Nations Championship Stockdale scored seven tries, setting a new record for most tries in the tournament.

He was named as the 2018 Six Nations Player of the Championship and in November 2018 scored the try that secured Ireland their first ever victory against the All Blacks on Irish soil.

Rieko Edward Ioane:

Country: New Zealand

DOB: March 18, 1997

Height: 1.88m

Weight: 103kg

Rieko Edward Ioane is a young, emerging talent from New Zealand.

He plays as a wing for club team Blues in Super Rugby, as well as the New Zealand national team.

Rugby pundits have selected him as one to watch during the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

As a youth player he was picked to play in the Sevens World Series for New Zealand in 2014 and 2015, and by the time 2018 came around Ioane was playing professionally and was named Tom French Maori Player of the Year, NZRU Sevens Player of the Year and World Rugby Breakthrough Player of the Year.

He made his international debut in 2016 when he was 19. He is one of the youngest players to represent New Zealand.

Ioane has been described as a “destructive winger” and has scored 67 career tries. 

Joe Cokanasiga:

Country: England (born in Fiji)

DOB: November 15, 1997

Height: 1.93m

Weight: 122kg

Cokanasiga was born in Fiji but moved to England shortly after birth.

He plays wing for Bath and previously played for London Irish. Cokanasiga helped his former team win promotion from the RFU Championship to the English Premiership.

In November 2018 he was picked to make his international debut against Japan and scored a try.

Cokanasiga demonstrated just how talented he was and retained his place for the next match against Australia in which he scored another try.

While there are rivals for this position in the England squad, Cokanasiga is unique in that he is arguably England’s only destructive winger.

Player profile

Alun Wyn Jones is the current captain of the Wales national team and the former captain of the club Ospreys.

He is the world’s most-capped lock forward and Wales’ joint most capped player alongside Gethin Jenkins.

He has won nine caps for the British and Irish Lions and is one of a small group of Welsh players to have won three Grand Slams.

In 2019 he was named as the best player of the Six Nations Championship.

Jones was born in Swansea and played his first rugby for Bonymaen RFC.

He represented Wales at under-21 level and made his debut for the national side in June 2006 against Argentina.

He initially played as a blindside flanker but later became a lock/second row. It was in this position that he featured, and excelled, in Wales’ 2007 Six Nations campaign.

In March 2009 Jones captained Wales against Italy in the Six Nations and became the 126th player to be captain of the country.

Alongside playing professional rugby, Jones studied part-time for a degree in law at Swansea University and graduated in 2010.

He has been referred to as “the greatest ever” Welsh rugby player.

NAME: Alun Wyn Jones


DOB: September 19, 1985 (age 34)

Height: 1.98m


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