by allyn freeman

The key storyline for the upcoming tenth Rugby World Cup is whether Ireland can win a match in the Quarter Finals and advance into the next round. The Ireland XV has reached the Quarters seven times in nine World Cup appearances and lost on each occasion. The Irish are the only nation ranked in the top ten that has constantly failed in each past World Cup event.

            However, in 2023, Ireland went 5-0 in the Six Nations Tournament, achieving a spectacular Grand Slam triumph (i.e.; winning every match). The list of victories follows:

Results: Ireland 34 – Wales 10, Ireland 32 – France 19, Ireland 34 – Italy 20,

Ireland 22 – Scotland 7, Ireland 29 – England 16

            Ireland won decisively in all of the 2023 matches and has been consistently ranked number one by World Rugby.  Current country rankings with World Cup betting odds follow.

Ranking (Odds)          World Cup Finals

1. Ireland (9-2)                        –

2. France (3-1)                        0-3

3. NZ (10-3)                            3-1

4. S. Africa(5-1)                      3-0

5. Scotland (40-1)                   –

6. England (10-1)                    1-3

7. Australia (10-1)                  2-2

8. Argentina (33-1)                 –

9. Wales (40-1)                       –

World Cup Statistics

NumberYearLocationAttendanceAverage StadiumWinnerRunner Up
1.1987ANZAC   604,00020,000NZFrance
3.1995S. Africa1,100,00034,400S. AfricaNZ
6.2007France2,263,00047,200S. AfricaEngland
9.2019Japan1,700,00037,800S. AfricaEngland

            The French were disappointed they did not win in 2007, when the country hosted the event. Les Bleus upset the All Blacks in the Quarters, only to lose to England in the semis. In an act of subtle spite, the French transit union went on strike, eliminating all inland rail or Metro service to the Stade de France and stranding the English visitors arriving by droves at the Gare du Nord to watch the final. The main question this year is whether total Cup attendance will surpass three million. La belle France is the most visited nation in the world.

Important Facts

  • Kick off Match – September 8,  France vs. New Zealand, Paris
  • Final Match – October 28, Paris
  • Twenty countries, Four Pools of Five Nations Each
  • Two teams from each Pool advance into the Quarter Finals
  • Chile’s First Cup Appearance and Portugal’s Second
  • No USA or Canadian Fifteens
  • Television USA – NBC Sports
  • Thirty-three players per squad
  • Hardest Pool: B – South Africa, Ireland, Scotland, Tonga, Romania
  • Easiest Pool: D – England, Japan, Argentina, Samoa, Chile
  • Seven stadiums: Stade de France, Paris (80,000) – Lowest: Stadium Toulouse (33,100)
  • Nine Nations appeared in all World Cups
  • World Cup Champions by Hemisphere: Southern Nations 8, Europe 1
  • Finalists by Hemisphere: Southern 11, Europe 7
  • Access:


            Only five nations have dominated the prior World Cup finals, and some of these again are favored to reach the finals in 2023. World class rugby rarely produces upsets, but the singular unexpected defeat occurred in the 2015 World Cup when a plucky Japanese fifteen beat South Africa in pool play.

            Ireland – Beat New Zealand on tour, the first touring side to win since 1974. Six Nations champions in 2023. Player of the Year Josh van der Flier. The reliable Johnny Sexton.

            France – Lost one match in two-years. Six Nations titlist in 2022. Led by the exciting Antoine Dupont. Home crowd advantage. Except thousands of French flags in the venues.

            South Africa – Defending champions. The team rises to World Cup occasions. Handrè

Pollard one of the best kickers in the world. Have not won the Rugby Championship since 2019.

            All Blacks – Victors in the Rugby Championship in 2021 and 2022. A country full of rugby talent. Have something to prove this time. The colorful haka.

            Australia – Return of Coach Eddie Jones, who was dismissed by England.

            England – Sub-par performances in past two-years. New coach.

Final Note

            Photo – The William Webb Ellis Trophy named after the Rugby School student.

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