This is the ‘Cinderella’ pool of the tournament. Anyone can make it to the quarterfinals from this group because, well….it has three PNC teams, one powerhouse and another European team that can’t decide whether they are a contender or not.
South Africa is the recognized powerhouse in this pool, boasting an 86% winning rate in Rugby World Cups and an impressive 25 wins with just four losses. Japan on the other end of the spectrum has won just a single game, were drawn for two matches and have lost 21 in their World Cup history.
Scotland (58% win percentage) and Samoa (46% win percentage) are expected to fight for the second place berth in Pool B but both teams have a shaky history in World Cup years. Both have had memorable wins against top tier opponents and yet they also have a tendency to fall asleep against opponents they are expected to dominate. If they fall victim to the same folly, Japan and USA could easily snatch a historical win against either of these sides. Scotland is the younger team while Samoa boasts a veteran side led by sevens hardman Alafoti Faosiliva and steamroller turned wing Alesana Tuilagi.
USA is definitely the dark horse in the Pool. If they can shock Samoa in their World Cup opener, a win against Scotland is hardly out of the picture. They will rely heavily on the power of their big backs and the surging strength and continuity of their forwards.
South Africa will do as they’ve always done – win the tough ones and slip into the semifinals. Scotland has to contend with Samoa before booking their way to the quarterfinals. Samoa will need to play like an underdog against USA and Japan and erase the memory of their last loss to Scotland to emerge from pool play. USA has the tools and the team to finally be taken seriously by the top tier nations. Japan will be lucky again to escape with a win.
Pool B by the numbers:
South Africa is the most experienced side with an average of 43 test matches per player and a combined team total of 1,297 international matches.
- Samoa is the most inexperienced side with an average of 17 international test matches per player and a combined total of 512 international matches.
- South Africa’s Victor Matfield has played in the most test matches (123) in Pool B spanning a 14 year international career for the Springboks
- Niku Kruger (USA) has the least international experience with just one (1) match under his belt.
- South Africa has a combined team total of 30 yellow cards, while veteran Springboks Schalk Burger and teammate Bryan Habana have five (5) yellow cards apiece during their vast test careers.
Scotland has the least number of yellow cards in Pool B with just two (2).
- USA and Samoa have the most red cards (two each) coming into Rugby World Cup 2015, with Samoa’s Alesana Tuilagi copping the largest individual red card tally with two over his 13 year international career.
- Bryan Habana (South Africa) has scored the most tries in the pool (59) in 207 matches played.
- Morne Steyn (South Africa) has scored the most points among Pool B opponents with an incredible 688 points over his six year career in the Sprinbok jumper.
- Scotland is the youngest side in the pool with an average player age of 27 years.
- Samoa has the oldest side with an average player age of 29 years.
- Titi Lamositele (USA) is the youngest player in Pool B at age 20 years.
- Victor Matfield (South Africa is the senior statesmen of the pool at the ripe old rugby age of 38 years.
- Japan’s Atshushi Hiwasa and Fumiaki Tanaka are the shortest guys in the pool measuring in at 5’4″ apiece.
Eben Etzebeth, Lodewyk De Jager (South Africa) and Greg Peterson are the tallest players in the pool. Each of them tower over the rest of the field at 6’7″.
- Samoa’s imposing prop Census Johnston tips the scales at 298 lbs making him the heaviest in the pool while his teammate Vavao Afemai is the lightest, weighing in at a meager 145 lbs.
- South Africa is the tallest team in the pool with an average height of 6’3″ in the forward pack and 6’1″ in the backs.
- Japan is the shortest in the pool with an average height of 6’1″ in the forwards and 5’8″ in the backs.
- South Africa has the heaviest team with an average weight of 256 lbs in the forwards and 209 lbs in the backs.
- Japan wins the award for the lightest team in the pool with an average weight of 243 lbs in the forwards and a 194 lbs average in the backs.