So here are 10 Rugby World Cup 2023 predictions. If you are interested in the schedule as well
Rugby World Cup 2023 Schedule and Preview
France to win it all
We may as well start with the big one. I don’t see the tournament ending any other way than France overcoming their previous world cup disappointments to lift the trophy in front of their home fans.
That home advantage is going to be massive for this French team. We have seen in domestic rugby just how big of an advantage that really is. France have not lost in front of their home fans in more than two years and I see this streak continuing.
The French team can dominate any team physically and it is that pack which is going to cause the most damage at this tournament. They have two world class front rows who can dominate the scrums and give their talented backs a great opportunity to attack.
France can boast the best rugby player in the world who happens to be their captain. So the odds looks pretty good for France at the moment. There is going to be a huge amount of pressure on a team that features a lot of player’s getting their first experience in the world cup.
But the physicality of this team makes them almost impossible to beat and so France will win the Rugby World Cup in 2023.
Australia reach the semi-finals
Appointing Eddie Jones this close to a tournament is based on one thing, his record at world cups. A lot of people forget that Jones has coached two World Cup finalists as well as being crucial to South Africa’s success in 2007.
Previous coach Dave Rennie had Australia moving in the right direction and I think that Jones will continue that movement. For one thing, Australia have what is likely the easiest group in the competition. Wales are in a sorry state at the moment and Fiji are a team that Australia can definitely beat.
They would then likely face Argentina, England or Japan. All three of these teams can be beaten by the Wallabies and this would send them through to the semi-final.
In the last 12 months, Australia were just one score away from beating New Zealand, France and Ireland, although there is a loss to Italy in between those results. They beat South Africa last August and so Australia have shown an ability to beat some of the top teams in the world.
Eddie Jones has done the smart thing to bring back some incredible talents to the team. Will Skelton and Quade Cooper are going to have a massive part to play for Australia having been brought back into the team by Jones.
There is just talent throughout the team and so Australia could definitely be the surprise team of the tournament.
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Fiji finish second in Group C
In Australia’s group is Fiji. I think they will be the team who finishes second in group C. There is no doubt that in the Pool stage, group C is one of the most interesting because the team who were at the top when the draw was made have fallen off massively.
Wales are a shell of the team that made it to the semi-finals four years ago. The turmoil within Welsh rugby has meant that a lot of player’s have left and it brings a huge opportunity for Fiji.
This is an extremely talented Fijian side, which looks like it could feature one of the scariest centre partnerships we have ever seen between Semi Radradra and Josua Tuisova. Forward Levani Botia is one of the best in the world at the moment and will get turnovers in every game he plays in.
Upfront, Fiji have a lot of raw power that can match up extremely well against Georgia, Wales and even Australia within their group. Guys like Albert Tuisue, Eroni Mawi and Sam Matavesi have been playing against some of the best players in the world in the Premiership.
With Fiji also being able to develop players over the last two years with the Fijian Drua, don’t be surprised when Fiji are heading into their first World Cup quarter-final since 2007.
Italy push the big two in their group close
Italy have such a difficult draw, being placed in Pool A with France and New Zealand. We are certainly not going as far to say that Italy are going to upset one of those teams, but some fans believe that Italy are going to get smashed twice in that group stage.
But this Italian team is one of the best in World Cup history. They beat Wales and Australia in 2022, as well as pushing France incredibly close in the Six Nations at the start of the year. Ange Capuozzo might be the headline name of this team, but Italy have talent in almost every position.
Paolo Garbisi will have the perfect opportunity to show he is a world class fly-half against two of the best teams in the world. Their back row is particularly impressive, including captain Michele Lamaro and Six Nations standout Sebastian Negri.
The only real weakness I see is that scrum-half Stephen Varney has had some shaky performances in an Italian shirt and there are many alternatives. But there are some interesting additions to this Italian team.
Former England U20 internationals Paolo Odogwu and Dino Lamb are likely to feature at the tournament, having been including in the most recent training squad. Kieran Crowley has a great opportunity to do something special with this Italian team.
They have a huge test against France and New Zealand. While Italy will likely loose to both, don’t be surprised to see Italy provide a scare to either of those two top teams.
South Africa upset Ireland
I have a feeling that some of the Irish fans are not going to be too happy with this next prediction. The expectations on Ireland are incredibly high because they are the number one ranked team in the world.
Coming off the back of a Six Nations Grand Slam and a series win in New Zealand, you might think that no one can stop this Irish team. But it is important to look into the details a little bit more.
For one thing, Ireland have a terrible record at world cups, having never made it past the quarter-final stage in their history. It is also important to recognise that the form of Leinster is also very important to this Irish team. Once again Leinster disappointed in domestic competitions.
They paid the price for resting some of Ireland stars and it is the sort of thing which could prove to be costly. The formula for beating Ireland has been shown by La Rochelle and Munster. You have to out physical them and disrupt at the ruck as much as possible.
Which is exactly what the Springboks can do in their group game. South Africa might have the most physically imposing pack in the world, especially if Eben Etzebeth is back fully healthy for the tournament.
Even if he is not there, South Africa match up incredibly well physically and with Handre Pollard back fit, their attack is going to be lightening fast. I think South Africa will jut provide too many mismatches and will be able to nullify the threat of Johnny Sexton.
While the game certainly won’t be a runaway victory, I do still see South Africa upsetting the number one team in the world and finishing top of Pool B.
Thomas Ramos to be the tournament’s top scorer
When you dive into the details, this prediction is actually probably the least crazy out of any of them. Despite not being seen as one of the superstars of this French side, Thomas Ramos is going to be the team’s goalkicker for the 2023 Rugby World Cup.
Fly-half Romain Ntamack is a solid goalkicker, but Ramos boot just tends to be a bit more accurate and he can also hit from longer range. Considering we also predict that France are going to end up as world champions, it is likely that Ramos will be the top scorer of the team and also the tournament.
At 27 years old, it seems unlikely that Ramos will need to be rested much throughout the tournament. He may miss one or two Pool games just for some rest and rotation, but so will almost every goalkicker in the tournament.
Ramos is also coming off the back of an excellent Six Nations with the boot and even with the ball in his hand. In just five games earlier this year, Ramos scored a whopping 84 points including 23 points on his own against England at Twickenham.
With Ramos position in the team completely safe, he will likely be the top scorer by the end of the competition.
Sorry Scotland fans, I am also predicting your team to struggle in this tournament. There might not be a team in the competition who has a worse draw than Scotland. Despite currently being ranked as the fifth best team in the world, they have to face the number one and number three sides also in their Pool.
It is an incredibly tough draw for a Scotland side who are heading into the tournament on good form. They finished third in the Six Nations earlier this year, with comfortable victories over Argentina and Fiji in the Autumn internationals in 2022.
Scotland have put up some excellent performances, mainly down to Finn Russell being back in the team. The new Bath signing is currently playing like one of the best player’s in the world, seemingly doing something magic every time he puts on a Scotland jersey.
It does also help that Scotland have one of the most talented back groups in world rugby. Sione Tuipulotu, Huw Jones, Duhan van der Merwe, Darcy Graham and Stuart Hogg make up an excellent attacking backline outside Russell and they can cause problems for any opposition defence.
The issue for Scotland is that they just do not have the front pack to compete with the big teams. Captain Jamie Ritchie is outstanding, but his forwards have been out physicaled in countless games. It also does not help that they are facing two of the strongest packs in the world in South Africa and Ireland.
So despite this being one of the best Scotland team’s of the last few decades, I don’t see anyway that they make it through the group stage considering the teams they are up against.
Handre Pollard proves crucial for South Africa
One of the few issues around selection for South Africa over the last few years has been the number 10 shirt. While it was Handre Pollard at 10 when they won the tournament four years ago. But Pollard has not always been healthy and on form since then, which has caused the team to occasionally look elsewhere.
Mannie Libbok and Damian Willemse are the two main contenders who have seen some game time in the last few years at number 10. This could have caused some issues for South Africa, as neither have shown they can be as good as Pollard.
Well, South Africa fans will have once again been concerned when they learned that Pollard picked up a lower leg injury in the Premiership Rugby semi-final. It seems like Pollard will miss the entire Rugby Championship in the run up to the tournament and so he is going to need to have a great recovery to be healthy when the tournament starts.
But I think that Pollard will return to full health and full form when he gets back in the Springboks jersey. Before the injury, Pollard was in some of the best form of his life, making the Premiership look easy every single week. He was the main reason Leicester even got to that semi-final.
With the pieces around Pollard in great form, I think he steps back in after the injury and takes South Africa a lot further in the tournament than most people expect.
Luke Cowan-Dickie’s absence hurts England
England have a lot of selection dilemmas throughout the team, but Hooker is certainly the position which seems to be set. Jamie George looks incredibly likely to start for England, with new Sale Sharks signing Luke Cowan-Dickie being ruled out of the tournament.
While there would have been some competition between the two if Cowan-Dickie was healthy, I think his loss will have a big impact on England’s front row. George is not the quality to match up against power and speed to other front rows.
If you take a look at the top two teams in the world at the moment, they have agile and powerful hookers who are much more similar to Cowan-Dickie than George. England showed in that 2019 final that they can struggle against front rows who are much more powerful and faster than them.
George was at the centre of that and he is not coming into the tournament in good form. He was part of the England front row that was mauled by France in the Six Nations earlier this year.
Cowan-Dickie could have offered England a different option, but now it seems George will be the starter. Things are not looking like they are going to be fun for the England forwards in this tournament.
The Number 8s steal the show
In the past, there have been different positions which have really taken over the tournament. But I think this will be the year where the number 8s really star for every team in the competition.
Gregory Aldritt could end up being the best player at the Rugby World Cup this year, considering he was the driving force In La Rochelle defeating Leinster earlier this year. Aldritt is the main attacking option for this French side and there is no way he does not have a big tournament ahead.
Caelen Doris will be key to Ireland’s attack, just as he was in the Six Nations earlier this year. South Africa have by far the best depth at number 8, with Jasper Wiese, Duane Vermuelen and Evan Roos all vying for that number 8 jersey. No matter who they choose, South Africa will have a number 8 that lights up the tournament.
While New Zealand come into the tournament in bad form for them, Ardie Savea continues to look like the teams best player by a mile, as well as one of the best player’s in the world.
Outside of the main contenders, guys like Rob Valetini, Albert Tuisue and Sione Vailanu will be crucial to their team’s chances of causing an upset. It certainly looks like it is going to be a tournament to remember in 2023 for the number eights.