With the RUGBY WORLD CUP 2019 kicking off Friday, Sept. 20 on TSN, fans can look forward to the planet’s top rugby nations battling to claim their spot as the world’s best.
As the sport’s biggest international stars take to the pitch in Japan, @TSN_PR caught up with the network’s rugby analyst Brian Spanton to outline four electrifying athletes who are worth waking up for.
Beauden Barrett – New Zealand:
“When the legendary stand-off Dan Carter retired after the RUGBY WORLD CUP 2015, many wondered how the mighty All Blacks would move forward in the #10 jersey. Beauden Barrett would quickly answer those questions. The silky 28-year-old has been nothing short of outstanding. He’s accrued 78 All Black caps and 631 points, which has included more tries than his predecessor Carter.
Barrett has played for the New Zealand U20’s, has featured on the All Blacks 7 side, played domestically for the Hurricanes, and is committed to The Blues in New Zealand when the RUGBY WORLD CUP concludes. Despite their wealth of depth, many experts feel a healthy Barrett is imperative for the All Blacks to three-peat and win another Webb Ellis Cup.”
Owen Farrell – England:
“The 28-year-old captain of England carries a nation’s hope on his broad shoulders coming into the tournament. After becoming the only host nation not to advance to the playoff round in 2015, this deep side comes to Japan with high expectations.
The 6’2”, 212-pound Farrell, who has 73 caps for England, can play in different positions for his country but is most comfortable at #10. Farrell’s father Andy will be watching his son’s game very closely, as he is the defensive coach for Ireland.”
Johnny Sexton – Ireland:
“With 76 Ireland caps (including 700+ points), 14 British and Irish Lions caps, and 148 Leinster caps, the veteran Sexton comes to Japan for one last go at the RUGBY WORLD CUP. The 34-year-old was the 2018 World Rugby Player of the Year, and despite some criticism in both the British and Irish press, Sexton’s coach Joe Schmidt has not wavered in penciling him as his first choice #10 for Ireland.
The Irish come to Japan ranked number one in the world, and both Sexton and his teammates carry the high expectations of a passionate rugby nation with them.”
D.T.H. van der Merwe – Canada:
“The 33-year-old from Worcester, South Africa immigrated to Regina, Sask. in 2003 and will be competing in his fourth RUGBY WORLD CUP for Canada.
Van der Merwe plies his trade for the Glasgow Warriors in Scotland, and has 58 caps and 190 points for his country. In addition to scoring tries in all four of Canada’s RUGBY WORLD CUP 2015 pool games, he was one of the leading players in yards gained. His try versus Italy was one of the best of the tournament, and had the entire crowd of over 30,000 at Milton Keynes in England on their feet.”