RWC 2023 Pool A: France or New Zealand, who will blink first?

Parc OL is one of the host venues for the RWC 2023 Pool A

Pool A promises to be a thriller with the host France taking on the All Blacks in the opening match of the RWC (Rugby World Cup) 2023.

The host of this year’s RWC 2023 France will be keen to better their results in front of their home crowd. These two rugby powerhouse will be keen to outdo each other, to top their pool.

This group is so much about who tops the list, as the All Blacks and Les Bleus try to avoid a quarter-final match [maybe] with an in-form RWC 2019 champion Springboks – who are seeded to top pool B.

The rankings of all teams were provided by World Rugby.

RWC 2023 Pool A overview

Pool A features some very strong teams. Three-time RWC winner All Blacks headline pool A, host and RWC 2019 quarter-finalists France, are joined Italy, Uruguay, and Namibia. All will hope to ‘outdo each other’ in this year’s RWC2023.

How teams will line up in Pool A:

France (Ranked 3rd)

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Host and third-ranked team in the World Rugby men’s ranking will be hoping to lift the Webb Ellis trophy for the first time on home soil. France; who has enjoyed a perfect test start to 2023, will be motivated to carry their form into the competition, which is in less than ten days.

Les Bleus can surely count on home crowd support to propel towards possibly lifting the coveted Webb Ellis trophy, and will battle it out with the All Blacks in the pool stages for top qualifier.

Head coach Fabien Galthie settled on his 33 man squad [with only one recent injury change] who will be fully motivated for action in front of the home crowd on September 8.

Forwards: Cyril Baille, Jean-Baptiste Gros, Reda Wardi, Uini Atonio, Dorian Aldegheri, Sipili Falatea, Julien Marchand, Peato Mauvaka, Pierre Bourgarit, Thibaud Flament, Paul Willemse, Romain Taofifenua, Cameron Woki, Gregory Alldritt, Paul Boudehent, Francois Cros, Sekou Macalou, Charles Ollivon, Anthony Jelonch.

Backs: Antoine Dupont (captain), Maxime Lucu, Baptiste Couilloud, Matthieu Jalibert, Antoine Hastoy, Damian Penaud, Gabin Villiere, Louis Bielle-Biarrey, Gael Fickou, Jonathan Danty, Arthur Vincent, Yoram Moefana, Thomas Ramos, Melvyn Jaminet.

New Zealand (Ranked 4th)

The three time RWC holders are heading to this year’s RWC tournament seeking to win their fourth title. The All Blacks who are ranked fourth following their 35-7 historic loss to the Springboks will be hoping to brush the defeat away and try to lift the title. They will have to battle it out with the host France for the top spot to be on the safe side of the competition.

The All Blacks will breathe a sigh of relief after an independent judicial committee ruled that Scott Barrett is free to play in the RWC 2023 after he was red carded in the warm up match against the Springboks. In their verdict they concluded that sending him off was a sufficient sanction for the two yellow cards

Head coach Ian Forster had earlier announced his 33 man squad which he termed as the most experienced squad to the RWC 2023. The squad which retained 16 players who featured for the side in the RWC 2019 and 17 debutants will be captained by Chief’s flanker Sam Cane.

READ MORE: Hunt for 4th World Cup as Ian Foster names 2023 RWC All Blacks squad

Forwards: Ethan de Groot, Tyrel Lomax, Nepo Laulala, Fletcher Newell, Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Tamaiti Williams, Dane Coles, Samisoni Taukei’aho, Codie Taylor, Scott Barrett, Brodie Retallick, Tupou Vaa’I, Samuel Whitelock, Sam Cane (captain), Shannon Frizell, Luke Jacobson, Dalton Papli’I, Ardie Savea.

Backs: Finlay Christie, Cam Roigard, Aaron Smith, Beauden Barrett, Damian McKenzie, Richie Mo’unga, Jordie Barrett, David Havili, Rieko Ioane, Anton Lienert-Brown, Caleb Clarke, Leicester Fainga’anuku, Will Jordan, Emoni Narawa, Mark Telea.

Italy (Ranked 13th)

The Azzurri are heading to this years RWC hoping to better their results compared to the previous world cups.

Italy who have participated in every world cup tournament have never lifted the Webb Ellis cup and will try their luck in this year’s competition.

Head coach Kieran Crowley named his squad for the RWC 2023 including exciting wingers Monty Ioane and Paolo Odogwu who will be making their world cup debut.  Crowley settled on 24 debutants and nine players who settled for the side in the previous tournaments.

Forwards: Pietro Ceccarelli, Simone Ferrari, Danilo Fischetti, Ivan Nemer, Marco Riccioni, Federico Zani, Luca Bigi, Epalahame Faiva, Giacomo Nicotera, Niccolò Cannone, Dino Lamb, Federico Ruzza, David Sisi, Lorenzo Cannone, Toa Halafihi, Michele Lamaro (captain), Sebastian Negri, Giovanni Pettinelli, Manuel Zuliani

Backs: Alessandro Fusco, Alessandro Garbisi, Martin Page-Relo, Stephen Varney, Tommaso Allan, Giacomo Da Re, Paolo Garbisi, Juan Ignacio Brex, Luca Morisi, Pierre Bruno, Ange Capuozzo, Monty Ioane, Paolo Odogwu, Lorenzo Pani

Uruguay (Ranked 17th)

The Los Teros head to the RWC 2023 hoping to pull up upsets to their fellow pool mates.

Head coach Esteban Menses has settled on his 33 man squad for the tournament in France.

Forwards: Mateo Sanguinetti, Matías Benitez, Facundo Gattas, Germán Kessler, Guillermo Pujadas, Ignacio Péculo, Diego Arbelo, Reinaldo Piussi, Ignacio Dotti, Manuel Leindekar, Felipe Aliaga, Manuel Ardao, Santiago Civetta, Manuel Diana, Lucas Bianchi, Carlos Deus, Juan Manuel Rodriguez, Eric Dos Santos.

Backs: Santiago Arata, Santiago Alvarez, Agustín Ormaechea, Felipe Etcheverry, Felipe Berchesi, Andrés Vilaseca (captain), Nicolás Freitas, Felipe Arcos Perez, Tomás Inciarte, Gastón Mieres, Baltazar Amaya, Juan Manuel Alonso, Rodrigo Silva, Bautista Basso, Ignacio Facciolo.

Namibia (Ranked 21st)

Namibia who qualified by virtue of winning the Rugby Afrique Cup, will seek to improve on their outing. The Welwitschia who have never won any of their 22 matches in their six RWC appearance will hope to put an end to this cycle.

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Former Springboks head coach Allister Coetzee has settled on his 31-man squad with two to be named later on, to complete the 33-man squad.

Forwards: Jason Benade, Aranos Coetzee, Desiderius Sethie, Louis van der Westhuizen, Torsten van Jaarsveld, , Casper Viviers, Tiaan de Klerk, Richard Hardwick, Adriaan Ludick, Johan Retief, Mahepisa Tjeriko, Tjiuee Uanivi, Max Katjijeko, Prince Gaoseb, PJ van Lill, Wian Conradie, Adriaan Booysen

Backs: Damian Stevens, Oela Blaauw, Jacques Theron, Cliven Loubser, Tiaan Swanepoel, Andre van der Berg, Johan Deysel (captain), JC Greyling, Danco Burger, Le Roux Malan, Alcino Isaacs, Gerswin Mouton, Chad Plato, Divan Rossouw

Group A will be entertaining with host France taking on New Zealand on the 8th of September and will be the first match of the tournament and will set course for the other games.

READ MORE: RWC 2023 Pool D: All system go as they announce their squads

Pool A fixtures list:

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8 September        France v New Zealand, Paris, Stade de France

9 September        Italy v Namibia, Saint Étienne, Stade Geoffroy-Guichard

14 September     France v Uruguay, Lille, Stade Pierre-Mauroy

15 September     New Zealand v Namibia, Toulouse, Stadium de Toulouse

20 September    Italy v Uruguay, Nice, Stade de Nice

21 September     France v Namibia, Marseille, Stade Vélodrome

27 September    Uruguay v Namibia, Lyon, Parc Olympique Lyonnais

29 September    New Zealand v Italy, Lyon, Parc Olympique Lyonnais

5 October             New Zealand v Uruguay, Lyon Parc Olympique Lyonnais

6 October             France v Italy, Lyon, Parc Olympique Lyonnais

The 2023 Rugby World Cup knockout matches begin October 15, with the Cup final scheduled for Sunday, October 29 at Stade de France, in Paris.


Photo credit: Juni711120 on Wikimedia, CC BY-SA 4.0