CAPE TOWN – My primary school aged son likes to tease me for counting down the “sleeps” to his 11th birthday because I am doing the same to the World Cup kick-off on Friday, Japan versus Russia, and I can’t argue with him as to who is the more excited.
Just yesterday a Facebook “memory” reminded me that I had won a considerable sum of money a year ago because I had had the foresight to back the Boks to beat the All Blacks in Wellington, which they duly did, and I pocketed a packet, which was duly celebrated, I might tell you.
The odds on the Boks beating the Kiwis at that time were inviting for a gambler who had a good idea that something good was brewing under new coach Rassie Erasmus.
And at 10 to one it was a good bet…
Well, good luck if you nailed down the Boks to win the World Cup at those odds a year ago because the odds have changed a great deal.
The Boks are now third favourites to win the Webb Ellis Cup after firm favourites New Zealand and second favourites England.
After the Boks are Wales and Ireland, and then Australia, France, Argentina and Scotland.
From a South African point of view, it is a doff of the cap in the direction of Rassie that the Boks have gone from no-hopers just over a year ago to joint challengers with England to upset New Zealand.
Interestingly, Ireland great Brian O’Driscoll believes that France is the one country that can come from left field and stage a surprise assault on the crown.
“France famously saves their best for World Cups and I just have a feeling that they are coming together nicely for this World Cup,” the Irishman said.
“They have some seriously good backs and if their pack can generate good ball, their back division can do something special. I have a funny feeling about France.”
That is fair enough if you consider how France annihilated a good Scotland team a few weeks ago at Murrayfield but if you want to know where my money is going, it is on the Boks to beat New Zealand in the final on November.
I won this time last year; I picked the Boks to win the Rugby Championship this year and my gut feel is that this year Handre Pollard will steer the Boks to their third Webb Ellis Cup triumph.