Less than a year and a half after the next World Cup, which will be held in France, some teams are starting to stand out with one goal in mind: the title.
Our favorites: New Zealand, South Africa and France
New Zealand is clearly one of the timeless favorites in this huge competition. Rugby land, once again winner of the Rugby Championship, the Blacks will be keen to perform, as usual, becoming once again the only rugby union team to have won the most World Cups. So Sam Whitelock’s men would land in France with a more than determined workforce. After the two slaps received in quick succession against Ireland (29-20) and France (40-25) last November, the Blacks have just over a year to regain the confidence that has held them for so many years. France’s 15th team will have to watch out for them for the first time in their opening match on September 8 at the Stade de France before finding them for the second time in the competition’s final on the same grass.
The second country in the Southern Hemisphere to appear as a candidate in this upcoming tournament is South Africa. High in the rugby world rankings and defending champions, Siya Kolisi’s Springboks are considered one of the best national teams in the world. This team is impressive with both its strength and speed. She often surprises her opponents with the physical strength she exerts during the 80 minutes of a match. What they lack today is their frequent irregularities. In addition, they only had to finish third in the recent rugby tournament after their double defeat to Australia and despite winning the snatch against the New Zealanders, who are already titled. Business to follow at the Springboks 522 days before the tournament begins as they will have to face, among others, Ireland and Scotland from the group stages.
15th from France, currently the second country in the world in the rugby world rankings, on a streak of 8 consecutive victories, the clear winner of the All-Blacks, crowned with the four Grand Slams at the 2022 6 Nations Championship has only one goal in mind: to win the World Cup that will be its host country. France 15th coach Fabien Gallett scored his goal as soon as he reached the top of the Blues after the 2019 World Cup. The group is gaining experience, improving game by game, and nothing can resist it. The “Sleeping Giant” has now regained a taste of victory and is increasingly expected by his opponents.
The top players have escaped the injuries of choice so far but beware of these injuries that could deprive them of one or more matches of great competition. Without Antoine Dupont, captain and best player in the world or for example Gaël Fickou, France’s most experienced XV player and defense chief, the competition would not be the same. Between the national team and the club, these players have given so much (see too much), should we consider giving them a little more rest before the competition begins? Not easy considering the end of the high-stakes season, in the top 14 and upcoming deadlines for Team France.
Outsiders: Ireland, Australia, England
Ireland will wear the chasing favorites in the 2023 edition. Led by their captain and veteran Johnny Sexton who will play his fourth and last World Cup, Clover 15th will aim for first place in this competition. With a solid attack and an iron defence, the Greens appear more ready than ever to lift their first world title. The recent winners of the Black, and the good second in the last 6 countries, it will still be necessary to be aware of the lack of experience in this global competition which they may lack as they have never made it to the quarter-finals. They also haven’t won a major title since the Six Nations Championship in 2018. Ireland find themselves in Group B of fierce South Africa and unpredictable Scots, is there good news or bad? Only the future will tell
Excellent second place in Rugby Championship 2021, Australia impressed by recording only two defeats and only those against New Zealand. Not untouched by injuries, the Australian workforce has struggled to do well in recent times. The losers in their last three matches in Wales, England and Scotland will have to quickly raise their heads if they are to play their luck entirely in 2023. Their group with Wales in disrepair and Fiji, the world’s No. 11 country could allow them to gain maximum confidence before Knockout matches. The Australian Federation recently expanded its player selection criteria in order to give itself a way to win a third world title and reach the top of its southern hemisphere rivals, namely New Zealand and South Africa.
The 2019 World Cup finalist, winner of the 2020 6 Nations Championship and the Autumn Nations Cup, will also want to play on his shoulders to climb to the top of the competition. England beat the Australians and South Africa in two weeks during test matches, and sent a powerful message to their direct rivals. A third disappointing in the last 6 countries, the English will be able to count on their tireless second streak Maru Itogi hoping for a result worthy of the name after the decisive failure in the final of the last edition in Japan in 2019. Coach Eddie Jones will have the pressure and will have to form a team with Many with experience who will gradually return from injuries and a generation full of talents that have been bred like Marcus Smith on fire in recent games.
The title race has begun, which of its six teams or another surprise will manage to lift the final trophy? See you from September 8 to October 28, 2023!
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