In just over seven months, on September 8, the tenth Rugby World Cup will kick off. This event bringing together the best nations and players in the oval ball field will take place in France in nine different stadiums. An overview of the participants and the favorites of this World Cup.
20 qualified teams
Twenty nations managed to win the precious tickets to participate in this 2023 World Cup. The latter are divided into four groups of five. As the host country, France had already qualified. Fabien Galthié's proteges will play in Group A and will have their work cut out from their first encounter when they face three-time world champion New Zealand in the opening match. Les Tricolores will also face Italy, Uruguay and Namibia in this group stage.
South Africa, the defending champion, is in Group B and has inherited Ireland, Scotland, Tonga and Romania. In pool C, the Welsh will face the Australians, Fijians, Georgians and Portuguese. For its part, England fell into Group D and will challenge Japan, Argentina, Samoa and Chile.
A historic first for Chile
In 2023, Chile will play the Rugby World Cup for the very first time in its history in France. The Cóndores reached seventh heaven by beating the two North American giants: first Canada (54-46, cumulative score), which had never missed the major world event since 1987, then the United States, surprised at Glendale after winning the first leg in Santiago (52-51, cumulative score).
Among the heroes of the qualification were the third-line captain Martín Sigren, the opening half Rodrigo Fernandez and the winger Santiago Videla, who scored the winning penalty at Glendale, but also the Uruguayan coach, Pablo Lemoine, who had already qualified Los Teros for the 2015 edition.
France, big favorite at home
With a painstaking success against Italy (24-29) in the opening of the 2023 Six Nations Championship, the Blues have just scored a 14th consecutive victory. The last defeat of the XV of France dates back to September 17, 2021 and a short defeat against Australia (33-30). In 2022, Les Tricolores in particular won against the South African world champions and achieved sparkling successes, including the demonstration against the All Blacks at the end of 2021. They also won the Six Nations Championship, winning the Grand Slams, the first since 2010. The men of Fabien Galthié, worn by an Antoine Dupont who was elected the best player in the world in 2021, thus seem ready to let go of the costume of friendly outsiders for that of big favorites.
Ireland armed to go to the end
World number one, runners-up at the last Six Nations Championship and the All Blacks torturers during their last summer tour, the Irish have yet to reach the semifinals 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 come out of a strong Group B. Especially since the qualifiers from this group will meet, during the quarterfinals, those from Pool A, France and the All Blacks. However, nothing to frighten Andy Farrell's men, carried by the eternal Jonathan Sexton and the Leinster armada.
England, Australia and Wales under reconstruction
The English, world champions in 2003 and finalists in the last edition in 2019, have become outsiders and will have to regain their colors after a laborious 2022 Six Nations Championship to aim higher. The new coach Steve Borthwick should rely on Marcus Smith and Maro Itoje to restore the image of the XV de la Rose. Australians and Welsh, for their part, will meet in the group stage. Woe to the defeat between two teams on the decline in 2022. The Wallabies, like the Leek XV, seem to be struggling to renew their numbers.
New Zealanders on alternating current
The All Blacks had an eventful year. While they beat Argentina (53-3) on the final day of the Rugby Championship, the New Zealanders did not silence the critics. Their coach Ian Foster was in the hot seat, losing in four of the first six matches. Too predictable and lacking in verve, the Kiwis remain connected to alternating current a few months before the World Cup, which they won three times (1987, 2011, 2015). However, New Zealand corrected the situation by ending 2022 with six consecutive victories and a draw against England.
The Springboks aim for the double
Sacred in Japan, Siya Kolisi's teammates are not at their best. Second in the Rugby Championship, South Africa still has time to regain its best level. With a Lukahnyo Am in Olympic shape, young people with long teeth (Fassi, Willemse) and ambitious leaders (Pollard, Mapimpi, Etzebeth, De Jaeger), the Springboks have plenty to get involved in the fight.