RUGBY WORLD CUP 2023 – SEMI FINALS
by allyn freeman
After the semi-final matches, only two teams remain in RWC 2023; South Africa and New Zealand. An outcome that did not surprise anybody. Ranked third and fourth at the start of the tournament, both fifteens suffered first round pool defeats, rebounded, and continued without loss to reach the finals. That match is scheduled for this Saturday, October 28, inside the 80,000 seat Stade de France in Paris. The two teams have each captured three RWC championships, and one side will win an unprecedented fourth crown.
A review of relevant historical statistics reveals the following:
- The All Blacks achieved a 120-year winning Test match record of 80% against all opponents;
- Only seven nations total have ever beaten the Kiwis (Australia, South Africa, Argentina, England, Ireland, France, and Wales); and,
- In head-to-head matchups of South Africa versus New Zealand from 105 games, the tally is All Blacks 62 victories, Springboks 39, and four draws.
Semi-Final One: New Zealand 44 – Argentina 6
The All Blacks rolled easily over Argentina in a seven try romp outscoring and outclassing their Southern Hemisphere Championship rival. Will Jordan scored a hat trick, and currently, with eight tries in RWC 2023, has tied three players for most tries in a RWC.
Semi-Final Two: South Africa 16 – England 15
This was the dullest game of the tournament, which brought no grandeur to the sport. Both fifteens kicked, and kicked again without any attempts to advance by running the ball. South Africa ceded frequent penalties from senseless mistakes, which England’s reliable Owen Farrell converted for 12 points. South Africa notched six points from two penalties, the second from substitute Handré Pollard brought on the pitch midway through the first half. Farrell scored a drop goal to increase England’s lead to 15-6 with ten-minutes remaining. The Springboks scored a five-meter try, and converted to reduce the margin to 15-13. At the 77th minute, Pollard’s penalty kick sailed through the goalposts, giving South Africa the narrow victory.
New Zealand/South Africa Rugby World Cup History
South Africa 15-12 New Zealand – 1995 Finals
South Africa 22-18 New Zealand – 1999
New Zealand 29-9 South Africa – 2003
New Zealand 20-18 South Africa – 2015
New Zealand 23-13 South Africa – 2019
(In September of 2023 at Twickenham, South Africa handed the All Blacks their all-time heaviest loss, winning 35-7.)
Southern Hemisphere RWC Dominance
The tenth RWC will end this Saturday, the winner will again be a fifteen from the southern hemisphere. This will mark the ninth time that the victor comes from either New Zealand, South Africa, or Australia. England in 2003 represents the sole European fifteen to win the title. The past RWC matchups indicates six wins for southern nations against European finalists with both France and England losing three times.
In terms of the top four RWC placements across ten total events (including, RWC 2023 yet to conclude), southern nations will hold a 23 to 17 margin. Argentina and Wales will be tied with three RWC third or fourth place finishes while Scotland has one fourth place. Ireland has never advanced beyond nine quarterfinal defeats.
Player Statistics To Date
- Tries – Will Jordan (England) = 8
- Conversions – Thomas Ramos (France) = 21
- Runs – Burdee Aki (Ireland) = 81
- Offloads – Salesi Piuta (Tonga) = 10
- Clean Breaks – Damien Penaud (France) = 13
- Tackles – Marcus Kremer (Argentina) = 70
FACTS: All Blacks and Springboks
- Following the 1995 triumph, South Africa waited 12-years for a second World Cup win when they beat England 15-6 in Paris in 2007. There was another 12-year break before the 2019 32-12 victory against England in Japan;
- New Zealand won their first World Cup in 1987, beating France 29-9 in the final. They waited 24-years for a second triumph via an 8-7 victory again versus France;
- The All Blacks Sam Whitelock could become the first player to win three World Cups, after team wins in 2011 and 2015;
- Handré Pollard was the only player from South Africa or England to receive a 9 (out of 10) for his play in last week’s semi-final match; and,
- South Africa could join New Zealand as the only team to win back-to-back tournaments.
The Rugby World Cup Final will be held on Saturday, October 28, from Paris’ Stade de France at 3 p.m. ET live on Peacock and free on CNBC.
The premiere matchup of the current top two ranked fifteens in the world should generate record setting television viewership.
In net, World Rugby’s decision to award France the rights to host the 2023 RWC proved a smart one as stadium attendance reached all-time high percentage.