About the Rugby World Cup 2023
What: The tenth men’s Rugby World Cup (RWC)
Where: 9 stadiums around host nation France
When: Over seven weeks, from 8 September to 28 October
Number of nations: 20
Defending champions: South Africa
Info and tickets: rugbyworldcup.com
Which pool is your rugby team in, and will they win?
The first three weeks of the international rugby tournament is made up of the group stage, where teams are separated into four pools of five teams. Each team plays all the others in its pool, with the top two teams from the pools going through to the Quarter Finals. We’ve run our eye over the Rugby World Cup fixtures to see how things might unfold…
World Cup Pool A
New Zealand / France / Italy / Uruguay / Namibia
Pool summary: Two of the tournament heavyweights have been drawn together in Pool A. In fact, many pundits think the eventual winner will come from this group, with either the mighty All Blacks or three-time finalists France fancied to lift the Webb Ellis Cup in late October. Of the remainder, Italy is the most likely to spring a surprise, having won 13 World Cup matches in previous tournaments and with decent recent form. Uruguay have a handful of wins to their name, but Namibia are yet to break their Rugby World Cup duck.
Teams to advance: New Zealand and France
How they’ll fare after that: Probably very well. France are ranked fourth in the world, but of course they’re on home soil – potentially a huge extra advantage. And not much more needs to be said about the rugby prowess of the All Blacks – though a hammering at the hands of South Africa in a warm-up match in late August will have their supporters nervous!
World Cup Pool B
South Africa / Ireland / Scotland / Tonga / Romania
Pool summary: This is another pool of heavy-hitters, with reigning champs the Springboks looking to make it four wins in the final from four attempts. They’re in red-hot form too. And Ireland are the number-one ranked side in the world and stand every chance of being there at the end. They just need to overcome the mental hurdle of having been knocked out at the quarter-final stage of seven World Cups, and never making it to a semi-final. Perhaps this is their year. Scotland aren’t just making up the numbers: they’re ranked fifth in the world and beat France in a warm-up game in early August.
Teams to advance: South Africa and Ireland
How they’ll fare after that: The two teams going through face quarter-finals against New Zealand and France. A tough assignment, but it’s hard to bet against the cup holders.
World Cup Pool C
Wales / Australia / Fiji / Georgia / Portugal
Pool summary: This is the hardest pool to predict. Both Wales and the Wallabies having plenty of World Cup pedigree but aren’t bringing great form into the tournament. In particular, Eddie Jones has been doing plenty of talking-up the Aussies’ chances but is yet to deliver much on the pitch. We wouldn’t put it past either Georgia or Fiji to beat one or both of the big two in this group. After all, Fiji made a big statement on 26 August with a warm-up game win over England. The weight of experience might just prove the difference though.
Teams to advance: Australia and Wales
How they’ll fare after that: It doesn’t get easier, with likely quarter-finals against England and Argentina for finishing first or second respectively. But at least it’s not South Africa, France or New Zealand!
World Cup Pool D
England / Japan / Argentina / Samoa / Chile
Pool summary: Despite their aforementioned loss to Fiji in the lead-up to the tournament, you would expect England to make it through, and probably on top. Our bet for the likely runner-up is Argentina, but who can forget the heroics of Japan in the 2015 Rugby World Cup? They pulled off what’s considered the biggest tournament shock in history, with a win after the siren against South Africa. Still, that was only at the pool stage, and they’d need a couple of big victories like that to get through.
Teams to advance: England and Argentina
How they’ll fare after that: Both will have beatable quarter-final opponents in Australia and Wales, but then a semi-final against South Africa, France or New Zealand awaits.
Five rugby players to watch in the World Cup 2023
#1 Canan Moodie (South Africa)
Just 20 years of age, Moodie is considered by many to be the next Springboks superstar – and his scintillating display against New Zealand in a warm-up match suggests they know what they’re talking about. He’s a tall, fast and lethal addition to the backline.
#2 Jordie Barrett (New Zealand)
Famous rugby families include England’s Farrells, Samoa’s Tuilagis and, of course, New Zealand’s Barretts, the youngest of whom, Jordie (26), may well shine at this Rugby World Cup. He has 50 international caps for the All Blacks under his belt already, and all the silky skills needed to pick apart even the best teams.
#3 Antoine Dupont (France)
The Toulouse scrum-half and French captain has probably been the world’s consistently best rugby player over the past few years. For one thing, he’s been awarded Six Nations Player of the Championships an incredible three times. (Only Ireland great Brian O’Driscoll has done the same.) Dupont not only does everything with precision but is also incredibly strong.
#4 Tadhg Furlong (Ireland)
You don’t normally hear prop and playmaker in the same sentence, but it’s fair to apply both words to Ireland’s indomitable Furlong. The Leinster front-rower is formidable in the scrum, but he also has a great offload and even a sidestep. He’ll cause plenty of headaches for any team Ireland plays.
#5 Carter Gordon (Australia)
It’s the most inexperienced Wallabies side ever at a World Cup, and that extends to fly-half Gordon, who has just a handful of international matches under his belt. But he’s the only number 10 listed in the squad, so he’s got a massive job to do. It will be interesting to see if he’s up to the task.
Where to watch the Rugby World Cup in Hong Kong
We’ll be keeping you updated on all the action on our site, including the best venues for watching the Rugby World Cup fixtures in Hong Kong. Check in here regularly to see where you can get your RWC fill.
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