We selected seven pool games that could significantly influence the Rugby World Cup 2023 after Portugal became the 20th and last team to secure their spot in France.
The Rugby World Cup 2023 will begin with France taking on New Zealand in an opening encounter with all the makings of a classic in less than ten months.
Although the match between Les Bleus and the three-time champions should kick off the tournament in the greatest possible way, other games on the calendar have captured our attention.
The Os Lobos will play their first Rugby World Cup match in 16 years when they take on Wales in Nice on September 16, 2023, thanks to Portugal’s last-minute victory over Wales for the 20th and last spot in France 2023.
The two European nations have only twice faced off in a test match, with Wales winning the first encounter 102-11 in Lisbon in 1994.
We pick seven games from the pool stage that could significantly affect how the competition plays out.
New Zealand vs France in Pool A on September 8 Sporting France
The Rugby World Cup 2023 will get underway with a bang when the hosts square off against the All Blacks in the first game at the Stade de France. The two nations have played against each other seven times in Rugby World Cup, giving them a plethora of combined tournament experience.
The teams initially faced off in the RWC final at Eden Park in 1987, which New Zealand won 29-9. The two nations later met again for the RWC 2011 championship game, which the All Blacks won 8-7. But, undoubtedly, the most thrilling match between the teams was in the RWC 1999 semi-finals when Les Bleus rallied a 24-10 lead to win 43-31 at Twickenham
The two sides will only be faced once before, during the pool stage, in the RWC 2023 opener. This match will be significant in determining who wins Pool A because there are still games against Italy, Uruguay, and Namibia.
Pool D, September 17, Stade de Nice, England vs. Japan
England will play Japan in Nice in their second Pool D encounter, which coach Eddie Jones has undoubtedly highlighted on the team’s schedule. At RWC 2015, Jones guided the Brave Blossoms to three victories, including the “Brighton Miracle” victory over South Africa. He contributed to the team’s emergence as a significant player on the world stage.
His replacement Jamie Joseph has sustained that growth and Japan will be confident they have the talent to advance from their Pool for the second straight Rugby World Cup. However, should England defeat Argentina in their opening match in France 2023, Jones’ team would have the chance to all but guarantee their advancement, with games against Samoa and Chile coming after this one?
The two countries have only ever faced off in a Rugby World Cup match, which England won 60-7 in Sydney in the 1987 tournament’s pool stage. Since then, they have only met twice at Twickenham, where the hosts have won both times, 35-15 in 2018 and 52-13 earlier this month.
Ireland vs South Africa, Pool B, September 23 Sporting France
Current champions Whatever the outcome in Marseille, a lot will depend on the Springboks’ match against Ireland 13 days later. South Africa faces Scotland in their opening match of the RWC 2023. The games involving the three teams will be critical because all three will have goals beyond the pool stage.
Ireland has never faced South Africa at a Rugby World Cup, so this encounter at Stade de France will be a leap into the unknown for both teams. Although Ireland has won the previous two tests, the Springboks have the advantage in this matchup after winning 18 of the 27 matches between the groups.
The victors may have an advantage in the competition to win Pool B if they win on the outskirts of Paris. However, Ireland will be aware that, given their scheduled match against Scotland on the penultimate weekend of the pool stage, their fate for the RWC 2023 should still be in their own hands regardless of the outcome against South Africa.
Australia vs Wales, Pool C, Parc OL, September 24
On the third Sunday of the competition, Lyon will play host to one of the most frequent Rugby World Cup matches in recent memory. At four of the previous five Rugby World Cups, including France 2023, Wales and Australia were assigned to the same Pool, and they also competed against one another in the bronze medal game of New Zealand 2011.
Australia won the Pool after defeating Wales in Cardiff in 2007 and Twickenham in 2015, and the Wallabies also prevailed in the RWC 2011 bronze match. Wales defeated Australia at Tokyo Stadium to win Pool D of the 2019 RWC, breaking their losing streak in the competition.
Regardless of who prevails in this most recent matchup in Lyon, they will control Pool C, but neither team can afford to ignore the threat offered by Fiji, Georgia, or Portugal. The Fijians beat Wales to a spot in the quarterfinals 15 years ago and were drawn in the same Pool as Australia and Wales in 2007, 2015, 2019, and now 2023.
Pool D, September 30, Stade de la Beaujoire, Argentina vs. Chile
The attention of the team and their supporters would have been drawn to their assignment in Nantes when Chile won their historic qualifying for the Rugby World Cup 2023. With it, their spot in Pool D. On September 10 in Toulouse, Los Cóndores will compete in their first-ever Rugby World Cup game against Japan. Chile will also have played Samoa and England before they arrive at Stade de la Beaujoire at the end of the month.
However, the meeting with their South American neighbors will have sent hearts racing. Since 1936, Chile has faced Argentina on 39 occasions but has never defeated Los Pumas.
Will that alter the most critical stage for the men’s game? Chile will hope that after beating the odds to qualify for their first Rugby World Cup, they can break even more records once they arrive in France. On the other hand, Argentina will be aware that a win in Nantes is essential if they advance to the quarterfinals.
Pool C, October 7, Stade de la Beaujoire, Wales vs. Georgia
Georgia has participated in five tournaments but has never advanced past the quarterfinals. The Lelos have only triumphed in five of their 20 Rugby World Cup games, but they have made progress, and their hopes of advancing past the pool stage in France were raised by their historic victory over Wales last weekend in Cardiff.
Before the meeting at Principality Stadium, Georgia had lost their previous three encounters with Wales. In that stretch, the teams lost their lone tournament encounter by a score of 43–14 at RWC 2019. All of that was altered by a late Luka Matkava penalty in Cardiff, which gave the Lelos a well-earned 13-12 victory and gave the team hope they could accomplish something remarkable in France.
The clubs will next face off in Nantes for the conclusion of Pool C, and both will be hoping to arrive at Stade de la Beaujoire still running for a spot in the quarterfinals. Even while Wales would still be the odds-on favorite to win the game, the players will still be thinking about what happened in Cardiff.
Argentina vs. Japan, Pool D, October 8 at Stade de la Beaujoire
Argentina watched as England and France advanced from Pool C while Japan became the first Asian team to play in the Rugby World Cup quarterfinals. Hosts Although neither the Brave Blossoms nor Los Pumas will want to leave it that late in France, Japan secured their spot in the round of eight with an outstanding victory over Scotland in their final Pool A match.
Although it seems likely that qualification will still be on the line for at least one of the sides when they meet in Nantes on the final day of pool play, given that England, Samoa, and Chile are also in Pool D at RWC 2023.
There has only ever been one Rugby World Cup match between Argentina and Japan. During the RWC 1999 match in Cardiff, tries from Agustin Pichot and Diego Albanese helped the Argentines win 33-12. Former Los Pumas coach Mario Ladesma was lined up as the hooker. With the win, Los Pumas beat Ireland 28-24 in Lens to advance to the quarterfinal playoffs.