There’s general agreement this is the most wide-open World Cup, but the defending champions look fantastic ahead of the tournament.
This time next week the rugby watching world will be preparing for the kick off of the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France.
It promises to be an action-packed first match between the hosts, France, and three-time champions, the All Blacks, in Paris.
Both teams are among the favourites to win the title, so the opening game is a massive one which could determine who plays the Springboks in the quarter-finals, if the teams progress to the knockout rounds.
Such is the draw this year that should the Boks advance from their pool, they will take on either France or New Zealand in the quarter-finals. It is a draw that has been heavily criticised, and rightly so, but it is what it is and as coaches and players always say, to win a tournament like the World Cup you have to face the best teams at some stage … whether it’s in the quarters or semis or in the final.
Wide-open World Cup
What is guaranteed is that the 2023 tournament is going to be a cracker!
Ireland, who are in pool B with the Boks, are the world’s top-ranked team and desperate to become Europe’s second winner (after England in 2003), England and Australia have their backs to the wall but have the potential to beat anyone on their day (and they’re on the easier side of the draw).
Then there’s Wales, who have found some form recently, Scotland, who the Boks face first-up and a team who are also desperate to make a big impression, while Argentina have it in them to go a long way. And who of Japan, Italy, Tonga and Samoa will pull off the shock of the tournament; it’s bound to happen?
There’s general agreement this is the most wide-open World Cup and I agree.
But I do feel the Springboks look fantastic going into the tournament; they’re settled and have all their boxes ticked. They have depth in all departments and they also have confidence and momentum behind them, thanks to their three hugely impressive warm-up wins against Argentina, Wales and New Zealand.
Of course anything can happen, but right now, a week out from kick-off, I’m backing the Boks to do it again!