Rugby World Cup: Two Cents Rugby maps out the potential routes to the final

Two Cents Rugby on the routes to the Rugby World Cup final. Credit: Alamy

Two Cents Rugby on the routes to the Rugby World Cup final. Credit: Alamy

With the Rugby World Cup looming large, Two Cents Rugby looks at some possible permutations in the draw to see who has the toughest path to the final.

The YouTube star studies who has the so-called easiest run and bases the teams’ routes on the current World Rugby rankings so let’s see how it plays out.

Pool A (New Zealand, France, Italy, Uruguay and Namibia)

New Zealand and France are predicted to breeze through this pool. Despite Italy’s recent improvement, the fact they’ve never beaten New Zealand and haven’t defeated France for a decade, they’re predicted to exit in the pool stage.

The opening clash between France and New Zealand should be the match which decides who finishes top and who finishes runner-up.

For the knockout stages, the road gets an immediate bump with a likely clash with either top ranked Ireland or reigning champions South Africa. Pool A teams will likely be cheering on Scotland in Pool B to throw a spanner in the works.

For the semi-finals, the highest ranked opponent they could face from Pools C and D would be England.

The toughest Rugby World Cup final after all that, would be a repeat of the 2011 final, with France and New Zealand going from pool rivals, to final rivals. Maybe not quite as tough as Pool B, but certainly not the easiest run.

Pool B (South Africa, Ireland, Scotland, Tonga and Romania)

With three of the top five teams in the world all in this same pool, Pool B is being regarded as a pool of death. Throw in a recently bolstered Tonga side as well looking to cause havoc, whoever gets out of this pool will have been battle hardened in the process.

Ireland and South Africa will be favourites to make it, but Scotland causing an upset would not be beyond the realms of possibility.

A quarter-final clash with hosts France or New Zealand doubles down on the difficulty for the Pool B teams, and you’d assume whoever wins there will be tipped to go all the way.

Like Pool A, a semi-final clash with England on paper would be the toughest draw, followed by a rematch with the other Pool B side. So potentially South Africa against Ireland in the final.

Italy causing an unlikely upset would welcomed by the Pool B sides, but realistically there’s no easy run from this pool.

Pool C (Wales, Australia, Fiji, Georgia and Portugal)

The line-up of Pool C has been much criticised and caused World Rugby to rethink how early the draw is made.

With Wales and Australia having recent result slumps, the highest ranked team in Pool C is Australia, who are eighth. That being said, Fiji and Georgia are no pushovers and will believe they have it in them to cause an upset in the pool stages.

For the quarter-finals, the highest ranked opponent on the cards is England, although Argentina are only marginally behind them.

If that seemed like an easier run than what the Pool A and B teams are facing, that notion ends abruptly when you’re looking at a semi-final with Ireland, or alternatively South Africa, followed by a final against France or New Zealand.

Pool D (England, Japan, Argentina, Samoa and Chile)

Pool D is a tricky one to gauge on paper. England are the top ranked side, but only finished fourth in the Six Nations. Japan are the second seed but their form since 2019 has fallen off a cliff, highlighted by a recent loss to fellow Pool D team Samoa. Argentina are arguably the form side after beating Australia away in the Rugby Championship, but also found themselves well beaten at home by New Zealand not long before that.

Whoever makes it out of Pool D would be taking on the likes of an Australia, if we go by how the current rankings are sitting. However, from there, the same path as Pool C awaits, with the likes of and Ireland/South Africa and France/New Zealand for the semi-final and final.

The early stage looks a bit less hairy than say Pool B, ultimately there’s no easy run to the Webb Ellis trophy in 2023.

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