France and its sporting achievements are in vogue at the moment with the national football team reaching a second consecutive FIFA final against Argentina and the national rugby team winning the last 6 Nations Tournament, Europe’s most prestigious rugby trophy and having a successful summer/autumn of test matches which, ironically, can be said for the Argentinian football and rugby teams with Argentina winning the World Cup beating France and also the rugby team obtaining winning results in the summer and autumn test matches which included a fantastic win against England. The RWC 2023 commences on September 8th with the host country taking on the mighty All Blacks in the inaugural opening game. The recent rise of French rugby at international level has been long awaited and the hosts are tipped as hot favourites to reach the final for the 4th time and even win it for the 1st time. France is ranked 2nd in the World Rugby rankings, however, the strong performances of the Argentine team, ranked 8th, in the recent internationals puts them in a position to better their highest RWC finishes of semi-finals in 2007 & 2015. Ultimately, France and Argentina could emulate the 2022 FIFA Final in football for the RWC in rugby in 2023, make a note of the tournament date.
Who is In & who is Out:
The RWC groups are finalised with all qualified teams from Africa, The Americas, Asia & Oceania & Europe. We have some surprises for this 10th edition with Chile qualifying for the first time plus Uruguay return and Portugal for a second time since 2007 and the unexpected elimination of Canada and USA Rugby. No surprises from the Asia & Oceania qualifiers except for Japan that has made huge progress in rugby and were the hosts of the 2019 RWC, the most successful tournament yet in raising the profile of rugby all over the globe. The usual teams from Africa qualify, South Africa actual world champions from 2019 and Namibia that have played in every RWC since 1999 which is magnificent considering the country’s population is only 2.5 million people. The Europe zone brings the largest group of teams, 9 in total qualify with all the UK teams, Ireland plus the popular Georgian side, Italy, Romania and the newbies, Portugal. This time Russia was excluded due to the illegal invasion of Russian soldiers in Ukraine. Spain, again was a victim of the regulations concerning eligible players which saw them disqualified from the 2019 RWC as well as the 2023 tournament. Although the 2019 world champions, the Springboks and 3 time world champions N. Zealand had dreadful summer/autumn tours this year but Wales and England suffered even more and both UK teams have substituted their respective head coaches. Wales dire performances, especially losing to Italy with that Angelo Capuozzo try in the dying seconds forced the Welsh Federation to part ways with Wayne Pivac and bring back former coach Warren Gatland. England underperformed in the 6 Nations and summer/autumn test matches making Eddie Jones’s coaching position untenable, the newly appointed head coach is Stephen Borthwick whose club, Leicester Tigers RFC, agreed to release him to take England to the next RWC in France next year.
The RWC 2023 Pools:
As usual the final draw for the pools throws up the so called pool of steel and supposedly easy pools, but that is only on paper and this RWC is on course to throw up some shocking surprises which every rugby enthusiast enjoys immensely unless it is his or her team dumped out of the competition.
Pool A – N. Zealand, France, Italy, Uruguay & Namibia
Pool B – S. Africa, Ireland, Scotland, Tonga & Romania
Pool C – Wales, Australia, Fiji, Georgia & Portugal
Pool D – England, Japan, Argentina, Samoa & Chile
If we are to follow the unexpected results of this year’s test matches then it is not going to be easy to predict all the pool winners and runners up, some teams recent form has sent out a signal to the expected to pass the pool stage teams, in particular, Italy, Scotland, Georgia, Japan & Argentina could mix it up next year.
The tournament begins on 8/9/23 with the final on 28/10/23 in Paris. Twenty teams in 4 pools will play 4 games each to reach the direct knockout stage to then battle it out to win the world’s most important and treasured rugby trophy. France are one of the hot favourites and host nation with the home crowd to will them on, however, to consider 3 time RWC winners S. Africa and N. Zealand likewise, plus Australia a 2 time winner and finally England who won the RWC Webb Ellis Cup once in 2003, who will most definitely think they have the best chance to win it. Let’s not forget Ireland that have shone this last season and are actually ranked No.1 in the world at the moment, the team has always passed from the pool stage to knockout before being defeated at the quarter final stage 7 times, maybe 2023 will be Ireland’s moment.
Every single game will be televised and broadcast live around the world from 9 different venues in France covering the four points of the compass. To follow your team or the 2023 RWC start planning now as match tickets are already on sale and accommodation is also being booked in anticipation unless you prefer alternative sleeping arrangements.
One thing for sure, is that, the 2023 RWC, Webb Ellis Cup Winner is going to be an extraordinary team of rugby players whose passion, discipline and respect will honour them and the glorious game of rugby, no other sport quite like it. And same goes for the Krakow Rugby Festival 2023 winners :)