There are only three days to kick off, and the excitement and anticipation are building. Will the All Blacks get the show on the road in style, or will they fall to their first-ever pool play loss in Rugby World Cup history?
We will know shortly after 9am Saturday.
But the $64000 question, or should I say $200, $100 or $40 question, is – is your office, club, or pub sweepstake off the ground?
Don’t panic; here to help you with what your tenner, fiver or two bucks gets you is the “simple man’s guide” to RWC sweepstakes, from the uncomplicated to the confusing!
Starting with the No Frills Package, where you hand over your dosh, all the names are put in the hat, or more likely, a paper cup from the water cooler, and the team names in another, and they are randomly matched together.
Your hopes of drawing one of the big ones are dashed when the name Chile is revealed on the small piece of folded paper. Surely, that cannot be right; it has to be an error, or it’s been rigged, and you immediately ask for a refund or demand a redraw after you realise there is more chance of no yellow cards being waved by the referees over the whole tournament.
A nice, simple system, and there is no ongoing administration apart from handing over the dollars at the end or stuffing them in your pocket if you “managed the draw” properly. Does need 20 entries, though, to make it work.
The Pick ‘n Mix Light! This is where you get to pick the winner of every game, starting with pool games and culminating with the final. It may be as straightforward as simply picking the winner, with two points awarded for choosing the winning team or maybe a couple of extra points if you luckily correctly pick a draw!
The Pick ‘n Mix Spicy! Pretty similar to the Light version, where you select the winner [or the draw], but you also must pick the winning margin, and for simplicity, the same as the TAB, 12 and under, or 13 plus. Points are awarded along the lines of two for the win, an extra three for the margin, and a juicy six points for the draw.
Positives – a fun competition that keeps entrants involved right until the playoffs [unless they’re muppets and regularly pick Portugal, Namibia, and Uruguay]. And it doesn’t need 20 entries to make it work.
Negatives – chasing picks from the tardy, but that can be allayed by giving participants a default pick [the outsider?] if not done on time. There is some admin, although, with most rounds played from Fridays to Mondays and the odd Thursday, it isn’t onerous.
The Pick ‘n Mix Extra Spicy! Each entrant gets to pick ‘n mix one team from each of the five tiers across the four pools, i.e., one from the top seeds New Zealand, South Africa, Wales, England, and so on, down to the fifth line of Namibia, Romania, Portugal and Chile.
Points are awarded exactly as the RWC during pool play, with four points for the win, a bonus point for scoring four tries, and the dreaded bonus for a close loss [I hate that last one]. Quarterfinal winners earn five points, semifinal and third-place getters get seven points, the runners-up eight points and the winners 10 points, or something similar.
Positives – a fun competition that gives the punters something to follow across pool play and a good shout when it comes to the business end of the tournament. It also has the minnows element to add a bit more spice!
Negatives – initial setup, but apart from regular updates, is relatively straightforward. My personal favourite.
There are many more highly convoluted systems, and those are just a few ideas that might make your RWC watching a little bit extra spicy!
No matter who you follow, it’s going to be one hell of a ride for the next seven weeks.