Feeling brave enough to put R50 on Tonga for a semi-final? No, us neither. Here is a guide to the smart bets for the World Cup.

South Africa

Despite the loss of star back rower Pierre Spies, our beloved Springboks, underachievers in recent World Cups, are second favourites this year at a tantalising 7/1. The group game against England will be pivotal, but if you want to best odds you’ll have to buy them before that encounter.

New Zealand

Everybody’s favourite after dominating the game ever since yet another premature exit from the 2003 World Cup. At around 1.5/1, however, it’s worth considering that the profits are slim for a team who have become famous for bottling it on the big stage.


A few months ago, only the insane or the drunk were giving Australia their backing in France. The bookies seem largely unmoved by the Wallabies resurgence in this year’s Tri Nations, keeping them at 13/1, behind France, South Africa and the All Blacks. Still, these are probably the best odds of the tournament considering their World Cup record.


Bookies have the defending champions at 26/1 to retain the trophy they won courtesy of Jonny Wilkinson’s drop goal in Australia. But strong showings, if narrow defeats, against France recently suggest they might be this year’s dark horses. If so, they’re looking pretty dark to us.


Home advantage, a run of good form and a beast in the form of Sebastien Chabal – the omens are good for France this year and at 9/1 they seem as good a bet as any. But a look at their form against the big names since 2003 suggests you are more likely to get your money back by throwing it into the sea.