It’s still early days at Rugby World Cup 2023 but the Six Nations teams are making a stamp on the tournament with a strong chance Northern Hemisphere sides could top all four groups.
Wales, England and France are looking good to top their respective groups while Sunday’s clash between Ireland and South Africa should determine whether the Irish also top their group. Though the Scots can’t be ruled out in at least finishing second in Group B facing Ireland in the final pool game.
The two shining lights for the Southern Hemisphere are the defending champion Springboks who looked very impressive in wins over Scotland and Romania - and Fiji, after Monday’s victory over Australia. Rugby Championship trio New Zealand, Australia and Argentina have all been handed defeats in the opening two weeks.
The Northern Hemisphere teams have just one World Cup title between them - England in 2003 - with five losing finalists.
Fiji did Warren Gatland’s side a favour by beating the Wallabies ahead of next Monday’s Group C match between Wales and Australia.
At the TAB, France are $1.01 to top Group A, while the TAB favours the Springboks ($1.57) to finish top of Group B with Ireland out at $2.25. Wales ($1.75) are slim favourites over Fiji ($2.10) to top Group C while England are at $1.02 in Group D.
The last time the World Cup was played in Europe, in 2015, the semifinalists were all from the Rugby Championship - New Zealand, South Africa, Australia and Argentina.
And an all-Southern Hemisphere semifinal draw can’t be ruled out again as well. How does All Blacks v Samoa, Fiji v South Africa sound for the final four?
As it stands
Quarter-final 1 - Wales v Samoa
Quarter-final 2 - Ireland v New Zealand
Quarter-final 3 - England v Fiji
Quarter-final 4 - France v South Africa
SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 23
3.45am Argentina v Samoa, Saint-Etienne
SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 24
8am South Africa v Ireland, Saint-Denis
MONDAY SEPTEMBER 25
8am Wales v Australia, Lyon
FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 29
8am Japan v Samoa, Toulouse
SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 30
8am All Blacks v Italy, Lyon
SATURDAY OCTOBER 7
8am France v Italy, Lyon
SUNDAY OCTOBER 8
4.45am England v Samoa, Lille
8am Ireland v Scotland, Saint-Denis
MONDAY OCTOBER 9
Midnight Japan v Argentina, Nantes
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