The pool stage of the 2023 Rugby World Cup wrapped up on Sunday, leaving just eight teams standing in the knockout round. They include four European nations and four from the southern hemisphere, with Australia missing out on the quarter-finals for the first time in the tournament’s history.
After a full month of action that kicked off on September 8 with France’s dazzling defeat of New Zealand, the first phase of the Rugby World Cup drew to a close on Sunday in Toulouse, where Fiji set up a knockout clash with England despite slumping to a historic defeat against Portugal.
In the quarter-finals’ two standout fixtures, world number one Ireland will take on the All Blacks and hosts France will face off with title holders South Africa. The opening quarter-final will see Wales take on the Pumas of Argentina, who edged out Japan in a decisive contest earlier on Sunday.
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Wales vs Argentina
5pm on Saturday, October 14 in Marseille
Wales entered the World Cup with expectations low on the back of a disappointing fifth-place finish at the Six Nations. Having topped Group C ahead of the impressive Fijians, they will now fancy their chances against an Argentinian squad that was soundly beaten by England and before holding off Japan to reach the knockout stage.
Ireland vs New Zealand
9pm on Saturday, October 14 in Saint-Denis
Ireland have lived up to their world number one ranking, winning all four pool matches including a clash of titans against title holders South Africa. Having never won a quarter-final before, they will be hoping to break their World Cup hoodoo against three-time champions the All Blacks – whom they beat twice last year during a tour of New Zealand.
England vs Fiji
5pm on Sunday, October 15 in Marseille
After a jittery build up to the tournament, England delivered a solid performance in the pool stage, carried by George Ford’s inspired kicking game. But they will be wary of the challenge from Fiji, the quarter-finals’ surprise package, who dumped out the Wallabies in the pool stage after clinching a historic warm-up win over England at Twickenham in August.
France vs South Africa
9pm on Sunday, October 15 in Saint-Denis
Les Bleus sailed through the pool stage after a dazzling victory over New Zealand in the tournament’s curtain raiser, though injury to star skipper Antoine Dupont dampened the mood in the home camp. Standing in the way of a maiden World Cup title for France are defending champions South Africa, among who are aiming for a record fourth title.
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