The 2023 Rugby World Cup promises to be the most open tournament since its inception in 1987. Pointers suggest France to win this World Cup as host .
Realistically there are six teams who have a genuine claim to winning the famous Webb Ellis trophy. France are favourites, with Ireland and South Africa very close behind. You can never rule out the All Blacks though, and then there is the chasing pack of Argentina, the Wallabies, Wales, England, and Scotland.
There will be shocks of course – there always are – with Fiji primed to have their best ever campaign. The 2023 Rugby World Cup has all the makings of being the most exciting and open tournament yet.
By all odds, it’s France to win the 2023 Rugby World Cup writes Charlie Inglefield.
France to win the 2023 Rugby World Cup
The script could not be better written for Les Bleus. A home World Cup tournament in the glorious French autumnal sunshine. Since the disastrous 2019 campaign where an in-fighting, chaotic, and aging French outfit was bundled out in the quarters, the resurrection has been remarkable. Fabien Galthié and Shaun Edwards have made Les Bleus impregnable without losing their ‘gallic’ flair.
‘On a mission’
Another class front page this morning, this one from Midi Olympique.
Pics of les Bleus’ entire squad in the colours of the French flag. pic.twitter.com/6os4KjwrqA
— Murray Kinsella (@Murray_Kinsella) September 7, 2023
There is a glorious combination of youth, talent, experience and cheekiness to France rugby that could take them all the way to glory. The loss of Romain Ntamack to an ACL injury and the unwanted media attention around Bastien Chalureau’s ‘racism claims’ aside, preparations have been relatively smooth.
Matthieu Jalibert’s twinkling feet and eye for the gap will cushion the blow of Ntamack’s absence. Antoine Dupont is the best rugby player on the planet at the moment with daylight second. In the forwards, the backrow behemoths Grégory Alldritt and Charles Ollivon will get to work up front.
We will know a lot more in what promises to be a fabulous opener on Friday night when France takes on the All Blacks. France must use the support of their nation to their advantage – if they do France to win the 2023 Rugby World Cup.
Ireland and South Africa so close behind leaders France
Ireland without a doubt must be considered joint-favourites to win the 2023 Rugby World Cup. If it weren’t for the tournament being played in France, Ireland would be outright favourites. So, what potentially holds them back. Not much to be honest. They have never been past the quarterfinals before but that will surely change over the next seven weeks. The challenge Ireland have is the pool they are in. Scotland and South Africa are in their way – both of the aforementioned teams are in form.
Ireland’s strengths, as mentioned by Brian O’Driscoll a few days ago, play perfectly into how notoriously cagey World Cup final stages typically go. The Irish are so good from five metres out, and almost always come away with points. Discipline is going to be absolutely crucial in this tournament and Ireland are the best team in the world at taking their opportunities.
The availability of Jonny Sexton is huge for Andy Farrell’s men, and they are going to be challenging France all the way.
Inspirational Kolisi bolsters Springboks back-to-back
It is to France and Ireland’s credit that we are not pumping up the current World Champions the Springboks as much as we should. South Africa absolutely annihilated the All Blacks at Twickenham two weeks ago. It would have sent shockwaves around all the other nations because it was an outstanding performance. The Springboks not only showed their notorious power game in the forwards but also a lethal cutting edge out wide. Captain Siya Kolisi made an inspirational comeback from a serious knee injury to add real impetus to the Springbok charge.
Like Ireland, South Africa are in a tough pool yet, if they get through, then no one will want to play them in the knockout stages.
After thrashing a disappointing All Black side, they have sent an ominous warning to the rest of the world. They are a team packed full of leaders and world-class talent with the likes of Cheslin Kolbe, and Manie Libbok ready to be unleashed. It would be no surprise at all if South Africa replicates their 2019 efforts.
Inconsistent All Blacks lead chasing pack
Nobody can write off New Zealand despite their inconsistencies in form. The recent mauling they took from the Springboks would have dented their confidence but you can never write them off. The stardust is there with the Barrett boys, Mark Telea and Caleb Clarke. In the forwards, the brilliant Ardie Savea will ‘lead from the front’ as always. However, there are big question marks on captain Sam Cane’s place in the team. The All Blacks can beat anyone on their day but they are behind the pecking order at the moment.
The chasing pack has grown with England, Argentina, Wales, Scotland, and the Wallabies the obvious challengers. But Fiji, Tonga, Italy and Western Samoa are all capable of upsetting the big guns. This would not have been the case in past tournaments. The 2023 Rugby World Cup will have shocks because the supposed ‘lesser’ nations have improved considerably.
We take the case of Fiji’s stunning win over England in their last warm-up game as an obvious example. They haven’t lost their glorious running game but have added technical improvements to their set-piece and more importantly their fitness. The Pumas are improving every year and go to the World Cup with their best ever squad. Lest we forget that Argentina has beaten both Australia and New Zealand away from home in the last year.
Don’t write off England and the Wallabies [just yet]
The cases of England and the Wallabies are more complicated. The World Cup format is entirely different mentally and tactically to what we have seen in the warm-ups and in tournaments like the Six Nations. England tend to perform well in World Cups if one takes away the 2015 campaign. If they beat Argentina on Saturday then the negative narrative around them changes completely. England coach Steve Borthwick has to back himself and pick a team that he genuinely thinks can do the job.
Eddie Jones is being his typical bullish self which is important when a team has lost four on the bounce. Australia have shown glimpses of what they can do against the best in the world these last few months. Like England the Wallabies’ discipline and error count is way too high at this level of competition. As infuriating as Jones can be, there is something about a World Cup that brings the best out of the team he is coaching. They could be the dark horse.
France to win; expect shocks and the odd dark horse
A few predictions from Last Word on Rugby to mull over from the pool stages:
Pool A winners: France. New Zealand to go through as runner-up
Pool B winners: South Africa. Ireland to go through as runner-up
Pool C winners: Australia. Fiji to go through as runner-up
Pool D winners: England. Argentina to go through as runner-up.
The 2023 Rugby World Cup should live up to expectations. Never before have we had a tournament where so many teams have a legitimate chance of winning. No longer will the big guns have an easy ride in the pool stages. It is to the immense credit of the supposed ‘lesser’ nations that they are beginning to catch up. Now they have to show it on the big stage.
By all reports and popular views, it’s France to win the 2023 Rugby World Cup although, Ireland and South Africa will be very, very close behind.
“Main photo credit Wikimedia Creative Commons”