The tenth edition of the Rugby World Cup is underway in France, and followers have already enjoyed remarkable results and memorable games. It may be in the early stages, but France 2023 is already shaping up to be a cracker, with the games giving plenty of tries and even more talking points. Ireland is the number one ranked team in the world, France the hosts, and New Zealand the favorites, but which team will be the champions?
With some of the competition’s powerhouses already in action, the groups are beginning to take shape. The best teams have forced their way to the front of the pack, leaving the best of the rest to squabble over the second qualification slot. But there’s still plenty of rugby ahead, and one misplaced pass, poor kick, and dropped points could ignite a late scramble for the major places.
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As results from the first round of fixtures filter in, fans are excited by what they see. Ireland entered as the number-one ranked team, and they oozed confidence during a comfortable win over Romania. It was little more than another warm-up for the Irish players, and the team barely needed to get out of first gear to blast past Romania. The final score read Ireland 82-8 Romania, and it could’ve been an even wider margin of victory for Andy Farrell’s men.
Fellow home nations team Scotland didn’t fare as well when opening their group campaign against South Africa. Big things are expected of the Springboks at this World Cup, and they certainly looked the part when laying down a marker against Scotland. The Scots entered in high spirits but lost to a South African side that had more to give. The scoreboard in that game told the story: South Africa 18-3 Scotland.
England smash Argentina
England flew to France with the weight of expectations hanging on their shoulders. Many of the most famous pundits, fans, and ex-professionals had tipped England to win the World Cup, and the team knew they had to come flying out of the blocks. An opening-round game against Argentina set the scene, and there was a buzz of excitement before the game. England fans expected a try-fest while Argentina’s supporters fancied an upset.
England hit the ground running at the World Cup, beating a dangerous Argentine side by 27 points to 10. The English were favorites to win with pundits and fans but knew the Pumas was a potential banana skin and a team improving fast. The final score suggested a tight, end-to-end game, but England won more convincingly than the final score indicated. They moved swiftly to take control of the game and were 12-3 ahead at half-time.
Interestingly, despite a decisive win and 27 points scored, England failed to score a try. They knew better than to mix it with the Pumas, instead kicking points and edging ahead of the competition while remaining focused on defense. Ford was the man of the match, scoring six penalties and three drop goals in a stunning display. Argentina hit back with a try from Bruni and a conversion and penalty from Boffelli.
England wasn’t at their best in the opening game and may have preferred an easier opponent to dip their toe into the World Cup waters. But to be the best, you’ve got to beat the best, and England’s win over Argentina was a great start. It proved the victors don’t need to go head-to-head with strong opponents, dragged into a shoot-out. England kept calm, controlled the ball, and Ford did the rest.
Les Bleus opens the show
Host nation France opened the show when meeting New Zealand in Paris on Friday evening to bring the curtain up on the Rugby World Cup. It was the perfect way to herald the arrival of this much-loved tournament, with two potential champions locking horns early. France got the win but worked hard for the points.
In a 50/50 contest, Les Bleus and the All Blacks entered believing they were good enough to bank an opening-day win. France got the victory following an epic battle that ended 27-13 for the hosts, much to the delight of their support. There’s a buzz around French sport just now, and the fans are confident their team is good enough to go all the way.
Tries from Penaut and Jaminet were matched by a double from Telea, meaning it came down to the kickers to settle the tie. Ramos scored only one conversion from two chances but made up for it with five penalties. The All Blacks missed both conversion opportunities, but Mo’unga scored a penalty to keep his team in the battle.
Aussies thump Georgia
Australia is in Group C, alongside Wales, Fiji, Portugal and Georgia. Each team mentioned is capable of causing an upset in the right circumstances, but it’s plain to see the Aussies have received a simple group. They are favorites to win the pool; anything less than four wins would be a failure.
Australia got off the mark with a vital 35-15 win against Georgia; there’s more to come. They weren’t as good as expected in defense, but their swashbuckling attacks blew the opposition away. Donaldson scored two tries, boosted by Petaia and Nawaqanitwase. Donaldson wasn’t finished there, scoring three conversions and three penalties to help put the game to bed.
The Aussies were as good as fans had hoped in their opening game, but know bigger and better tests are in the pipeline. They must be more organized in defense to beat Wales to pole position.