100 Days Until Rugby World Cup Kicks Off – An Early Look at the Tournament

The beginning of June sees the countdown until the start of the Rugby World Cup 2023 down into double figures! That’s right, we are now under 100 days until the Rugby World Cup kicks off with the hosts France taking on New Zealand in Pool A at the Stade de France, Saint Denis. Rugby union fans from the northern and southern hemisphere are starting to allow their excitement levels to rise a little and here at Pundit Feed we think it is exactly the time to start looking at this tournament in more detail with this Rugby World Cup Preview.

Rugby World Cup History

This will be the tenth Rugby World Cup and the first to be played in its entirety in France. Although the 2007 tournament was also hosted by France, four games were also played in Cardiff and two matches took place in Edinburgh. The 1991 Rugby World Cup was co-hosted by France alongside England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland but the Rugby World Cup 2023 will see no games taking place outside of France!

The first three Rugby World Cups (1987, 1991 and 1995) were contested by 16 teams but every tournament from 1999 onwards, including the Rugby World Cup 2023, will see 20 teams competing.

The last Rugby World Cup took place in 2019 in Japan where New Zealand were targeting their third successive Webb Ellis Cup. However, the Black Caps finished in third place with South Africa beating England 32-12 in Yokohama on November 2nd.

France will be looking to become the third nation to not only host the tournament on their own but also to win the competition in front of their home fans.

Rugby World Cup 2023

Rugby World Cup 2023 Dates

This Rugby World Cup will run from the opening pool stage game on September 8th to the final on October 28th. The pool stage will conclude on October 8th with four fixtures before quarter finals on October 14th and 15th, and the semi-finals on October 20th and October 21st.

Rugby World Cup 2023 Format

The 20 competing teams are split into four different ‘Pools’ with each pool containing five teams. Each team plays the other four in their pool with the top two advancing to the knockout phase. Crucially, the teams who finish in third place will be given automatic qualification to the 2027 Rugby World Cup which is scheduled to take place in Australia.

Rugby World Cup 2023 Preview

Rugby World Cup 2023 Participants

Pool A

New Zealand – the joint most successful side in the history of the Rugby World Cup. Alongside South Africa, the All Blacks are looking to lift the trophy for a record fourth time.

France – the hosts share the record with England for finishing as runners-up the most times (3). However, unlike England, France have never won the Webb-Ellis Cup.

Italy – still looking to advance from the pool for the first time, Italy have competed in every Rugby World Cup. They finished third, behind New Zealand and South Africa in their pool in 2019.

Uruguay – this will be the fifth Rugby World Cup and the third in a row for Uruguay. They didn’t win any games at the 2015 tournament but beat Fiji 30-27 in 2019.

Namibia – after qualifying for the last six competitions, this will be Namibia’s seventh Rugby World Cup in a row. However, they are still looking for their first win.

Pool B

South Africa – the holders begin their title defence against Scotland in Marseille on September 10th. They are currently in fourth place in the world rankings.

Ireland – ranked number one in the world and fresh from their 2023 Six Nations Grand Slam, Ireland are many people’s favourites. However, they have never previously got beyond the quarter finals.

Scotland – one of the most improved rugby nations over the last five years, Scotland are ranked in fifth place. Their best finish was in fourth place in 1991.

Tonga – they did not qualify for the 1991 Rugby World Cup but have played in every other tournament and been eliminated in the pool stage.

Romania – after missing the 2019 Rugby World Cup, due fielding ineligible players during the qualifiers, Romania will return for their ninth tournament looking to avoid pool stage elimination once more.

Pool C

Wales – pay rows between players and the rugby board, as well as high profile retirements and a poor 2023 Six Nations mean that few are backing Wales to get anywhere near their semi-final appearance in 2019.

Australia – the two-time champions are thought by many to have the easiest pool to navigate. Ranked 7th in the world, they will be coached by former Japan and England coach Eddie Jones.

Fiji – it would be a brilliant achievement if Fiji could match their quarter-final appearances from 1987 and 2007 in this tournament.

Georgia – regulars at the Rugby World Cup, this will be Georgia’s sixth consecutive tournament. They are yet to get out of the pool stage but won two matches in 2015.

Portugal – this will be only the second appearance for Portugal at a Rugby World Cup with their only previous appearance coming at the 2007 tournament.

Pool D

England – no other country can match England’s record of 3x Rugby World Cup Finals since the turn of the century. However, they changed their coach in December and were disappointing in the 2023 Six Nations.

Japan – the 2019 hosts captured the hearts and excitement of rugby fans by reaching the quarter finals for the first time where they lost to eventual winners South Africa.

Argentina – yet to miss a Rugby World Cup, Argentina have got out of the pool stage in four of the last six tournaments. They finished 3rd in 2007 and 4th in 2015.

Samoa – after reaching the quarter finals in each of their first three Rugby World Cups (1991, 1995, 1999), Samoa have been eliminated in the pool stage in every tournament since.

Chile – the only first-timers in the Rugby World Cup 2023, Chile secured their place in France with a 52-51 aggregate win over USA in July last year.

Rugby World Cup 2023 Favourites

With just over 100 days until the first game, it is the hosts who are favourites to lift the trophy for the first time at 11/4. New Zealand are the second favourites at 3/1 with Ireland narrowly behind on 4/1. South Africa are 9/2 to retain the trophy.

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