In a little over seven months, on September 8, the tenth Rugby World Cup will kick off. This event bringing together the best nations and players of the oval ball will take place in France in nine different stadiums. Here is an overview of the participants and the favorites of this World Cup.
20 qualified teams
Twenty nations have managed to get the precious tickets to participate in this World Cup 2023. They are divided into four groups of five. As the host country, France was already qualified. Fabien Galthié's protégés will play in group A and will have a tough task in their first match against New Zealand, three-time world champions, in the opening match. The Tricolores will also face Italy, Uruguay and Namibia in this group phase.
Defending champions South Africa are in Group B and have inherited Ireland, Scotland, Tonga and Romania. In Pool C, the Welsh will face the Australians, Fijians, Georgians and Portuguese. England, on the other hand, have been drawn in Group D and will face Japan, Argentina, Samoa and Chile.
A historic first for Chile
In 2023, Chile will play the Rugby World Cup for the first time in its history in France. The Cóndores reached the seventh heaven by beating the two North American giants: first Canada (54-46, cumulative score), which had never missed the great world event since 1987, and then the United States, surprised in Glendale after winning the first leg in Santiago (52-51, cumulative score).
Among the heroes of the qualification are the third row captain Martín Sigren, the fly-half Rodrigo Fernandez as well as the winger Santiago Videla, author of the winning penalty in Glendale, but also the Uruguayan coach, Pablo Lemoine, who had already qualified Los Teros for the 2015 edition.
France, the great favorite at home
With a laborious success against Italy (24-29) in the opening of the Six Nations Tournament 2023, Les Bleus have just aligned a 14th consecutive success. The last defeat of the French XV dates back to September 17, 2021 and a short defeat against Australia (33-30). In 2022, the Tricolores won against the South African world champions and have achieved some sparkling successes, including the demonstration against the All Blacks in late 2021. They also won the Six Nations Tournament, with the Grand Slam at stake, the first since 2010. Fabien Galthié's men, led by Antoine Dupont who was voted best player in the world in 2021, seem ready to give up their role of friendly outsiders and become the overwhelming favorites.
Ireland ready to go
The Irish are the world's number one team, second in the last Six Nations Tournament and beaten the All Blacks during their last summer tour, but they have never yet reached the semi-finals of a World Cup. In the first round in France, with South Africa, Scotland, Tonga and Romania, the Greens will have to roll up their sleeves to get out of a tough group B. Especially since the qualifiers of this group will meet, in the quarter-finals, those of group A, that of France and the All Blacks. However, Andy Farrell's men will not be afraid of this, with the evergreen Jonathan Sexton and the Leinster armada leading the way.
England, Australia and Wales in reconstruction
The English, world champions in 2003 and finalists of the last edition in 2019, have become underdogs and will have to find colors after a laborious Six Nations Tournament 2022 to aim higher. The new coach Steve Borthwick should rely on Marcus Smith and Maro Itoje to restore the image of the Rose XV. The Australians and the Welsh will meet in the group stage. Woe betide the loser between two teams on the decline in 2022. The Wallabies, like the XV of the Leek, seem to be struggling to renew their squad.
The New Zealanders on alternating current
The All Blacks have had an eventful year. Although they crushed Argentina (53-3) on the last day of the Rugby Championship, the New Zealanders have not silenced the critics. Their coach Ian Foster was on the hot seat, losing four of the first six games. Too predictable, not very enthusiastic, the Kiwis are still plugged in on alternating current a few months before the World Cup, which they have won three times (1987, 2011, 2015). However, New Zealand has rectified the situation by finishing 2022 with six consecutive wins and a draw against England.
Springboks aim for the double
Siya Kolisi's teammates, who were crowned champions in Japan, are not at their best. Second in the Rugby Championship, South Africa still has time to find its best level. With Lukahnyo Am in Olympic form, youngsters with big teeth (Fassi, Willemse) and ambitious leaders (Pollard, Mapimpi, Etzebeth, De Jaeger), the Springboks have enough to get into the fight.