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Rugby World Cup 2023: Pool winners and opening round predictions

Rugby World Cup 2023: from Friday 8th Sept, 8:15pm GMT

The Rugby World Cup gets underway in France this weekend and there could be some surprises in store in the group stage.

Rugby World Cup 2023 – Pool winner predictions

The difficulty many teams will have in progressing to the next round of the Rugby World Cup is highlighted by the opening match between two favourites to win the trophy in France and New Zealand in Pool A.

It will take a Herculean effort from one of Italy, Uruguay or Namibia to prevent either of the two favourites in this group going through.

If having France and New Zealand in the same group seems intimidating, look no further than Pool B where only two of South Africa, Ireland and Scotland can make it through and all three of them will have to negotiate a tricky fixture against Tonga.

It appears that the Ireland clash with the Springboks will settle this section but Scotland may yet put in a big word.

Even though Ireland are the form team, we are inclined to back the Springboks who have a team full of World Cup winners.

Wales and Australia are still the favourites to progress from Pool C despite being woefully out of form heading into the tournament.

This group is ripe for an upset with Fiji and Georgia among the stronger of the so-called tier two nations.

Australia’s talent pool is arguably the greatest of all these nations and they should somehow battle their way to the top of the pile.

Pool D might have looked quite tasty to England a few years if not months ago as they share a section with Argentina, Japan, Samoa and newcomers Chile.

England’s recent form suggests they might struggle to get beyond Argentina, Japan and Samoa.

In fact, the true Pool D favourites might well be Argentina who continue to progress nicely under Michael Cheika.

Rugby World Cup 2023 – Opening weekend

France vs New Zealand | Pick: France by six points

It’s a Rugby World Cup opener on French soil against an All Blacks team who haven’t had ideal preparation.

The All Blacks will get better as the tournament goes on but look likely to be caught cold here.

Italy vs Namibia | Pick: Italy by 20 points

Namibia won’t be able to slow this match down sufficiently to suit their style.

Italy should have them matched at the set piece and their backs will do the rest.

Ireland vs Romania | Pick: Ireland by 25 points

Romania will test the Irish scrum but that’s about it.

Ireland should have far too much firepower.

Australia vs Georgia | Pick: Australia by 10 points

Australia will also have their set piece proficiency examined on their opening day at the RWC.

However, they should have enough all-around quality under Eddie Jones to win this one.

England vs Argentina | Pick: Argentina by three points

England are ripe for the upset and Argentina know this well.

The Pumas have pushed the likes of South Africa and New Zealand this term and beaten Australia.

Japan vs Chile | Pick: Japan by 30 points

Japan get a chance to start their tournament on a big role as they face the minnows of the piece first up.

Expect entertaining rugby from Japan and heart from Chile.

South Africa vs Scotland | Pick: South Africa by five points

The Springboks haven’t been able to look beyond this fixture and know this is a must-win for them.

Scotland have a good team but they remain erratic performers.

Wales vs Fiji | Pick: Wales by nine points

Wales face a Fiji side fresh off the back of an upset of England.

However, that upset means Wales will have them well-scouted and Warren Gatland will have a plan.

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