RWC 2023: Get to know all 20 teams in action in France
Find out which teams will be in action and in what pools, as well as what their prospects are of making it to the knockout stages.
The Springboks are in Pool B. Picture: Patrick Khachfe/Getty Images
Here is a look at all four pools at the World Cup, with the teams’ prospects.
World ranking: Four
Best World Cup showing: Champions (1987, 2011 and 2015)
Captain: Sam Cane
Coach: Ian Foster
Prospects: The All Blacks are outside favourites to win a fourth title. Often the standard bearers of the sport, they are now having to find ways to counter other nations who have innovated their games to suit their players instead of trying to play like the All Blacks. As they are on the tough side of the draw, the three-time champions face the reality of a quarter-final exit.
World ranking: Three
Best World Cup showing: Runners-up (1987, 1999, and 2011)
Captain: Antoine Dupont
Coach: Fabien Galthie
Prospects: France have used the last four-year cycle leading to their home World Cup to perfection; they have improved their way of playing which depends on magic from marquee players and increased their depth. They have beaten every tier-one nation in this period, so they have as good a chance as anyone to win the tournament.
World ranking: 13
Best World Cup showing: Pool stages (nine times)
Captain: Michele Lamaro
Coach: Kieran Crowley
Prospects: The Italians have failed to make it past the group stages in all their World Cup appearances. This year in France won’t be easy; they will look to punch above their weight in the hopes of advancing to the knockout stages. The players they have will give it their all, but they will fall short of upsetting France and New Zealand.
World ranking: 17
Best World Cup showing: Pool stages (1999, 2002, 2015, 2019)
Captain: Andrés Vilaseca
Coach: Esteban Meneses
Prospects: The South American nation are likely to be the whipping boys of the pool, but they will put out displays that are filled with passion. Even though they know their backs are against the wall, they will want to go all out. Looking at their chances, their passion might fuel them to win against Italy or Namibia which will bring great consolation and reward for their efforts.
World ranking: 21
Best World Cup showing: Pool stages (six times)
Captain: Johan Deysel
Coach: Allister Coetzee
Prospects: Nambia have been a constant feature at the Rugby World Cup since their first appearance in 1999. It has always been hard for them at the global showpiece, but in France under the guidance of former Bok boss Allister Coetzee and the good player base they have, there’s potential. They will want to make a good impression and perhaps get one win under their belt and avoid finishing last in the pool.
World ranking: One
Best World Cup showing: Quarter-finals (seven times)
Captain: Jonathan Sexton
Coach: Andy Farrell
Prospects: This World Cup feels like it’s a now-or-never moment for Ireland, and this may well be their best chance to win the Webb Ellis Cup. Farrell’s team play systematic rugby that’s based on players knowing their roles and they have shown they can beat anyone on their day. It won’t be easy progressing in the “group of death” but should they advance, their biggest test will be to overcome their hoodoo in the knockout stages.
World ranking: Two
Best World Cup showing: Champions (1995, 2007, 2019)
Captain: Siya Kolisi
Coach: Jacques Nienaber
Prospects: Going into this World Cup as defending champions, the Springboks will be motivated to retain their title and be the second team to defend successfully and the first nation to win the Webb Ellis Cup four times. The players are in tune with the system, and they know that if they play to their strengths they will suffocate teams and prove to much to handle. Should the coaching staff find the right balance in team selection, they have a good chance of going all the way.
World ranking: Five
Best World Cup showing: Fourth place (1991)
Captain: Jamie Ritchie
Coach: Gregor Townsend
Prospects: The Scots are the “banana skin team” for Ireland and South Africa, who are among the favourites to win the tournament. As their ranking suggests, Scotland have it in them to beat any side on their day and their pool rivals know it. They will be driven to get a win over the Springboks first-up or Ireland as that will put them in a position to finish in the top two of the pool.
World ranking: 19
Best World Cup showing: Pool stages (six times)
Captain: Cristi Chirica
Coach: Eugen Apjok
Prospects: Romania return to the World Cup stage after missing out on the 2019 edition in Japan. Their ecstasy of returning to the World Cup though is met with sombreness as they are in the “group of death”. The Europeans will probably exit the tournament in the pool stages without a single win. This does not mean they are not good enough; it’s just that the other teams are better than them.
World ranking: 15
Best World Cup showing: Pool stages (eight times)
Captain: Sonatane Takulua
Coach: Toutai Kefu
Prospects: Teams in Pool B will underestimate Tonga at their own peril as they will be no pushovers in France. Tonga have been the biggest benefactors of the changes World Rugby made regarding eligibility. They have in their squad former All Blacks Charles Piutau and Malakai Fekitoa and many players who have an X-factor about them. Should the likes of Ireland, the Boks and Scotland play fringe players against them, they might be in for a surprise.
World ranking: 10
Best World Cup showing: Third place (1987)
Co-Captains: Dewi Lake and Jac Morgan
Coach: Warren Gatland
Prospects: Wales made it to the last four of the Rugby World Cup in 2019 and they can replicate that feat again in France. Even though they are not the stable side they were four years ago and have struggled somewhat in recent times, they will be up for it as their group is wide open. They need to hit the ground running against Fiji in their first game and build momentum that can carry them to the knockout stages.
World ranking: 9
Best World Cup showing: Champions (1991, 1999)
Captain: Will Skelton
Coach: Eddie Jones
Prospects: According to Wallabies coach Eddie Jones they have been written off by their media back home and that’s alright. With Jones leading them and former All Blacks coach Steve Hansen as a consultant, Australia pose a threat because they have two men who know how to play the World Cup. Getting out of the pool is a priority and they have a good chance of reaching the semi-finals.
World ranking: 11
Best World Cup showing: Pool stages (five times)
Captain: Merab Sharikadze
Coach: Levan Maisashvili
Prospects: Georgia will feel they have every chance of making it out of their pool as there’s not much separating them from the others in terms of quality and rankings. As most of their players ply their trade in France, they will hope to use their familiarity with the country to their advantage. If they can bring their physicality in the big games, Georgia can be the surprise package of the tournament.
World ranking: 16
Best World Cup showing: Pool stages (2007)
Captain: Tomas Appleton
Coach: Patrice Lagisquet
Prospects: Portugal will be making their second appearance at a Rugby World Cup in France this year; their first was in 2007 when their European counterparts hosted as well. In 2007 they exited in the pool stages and they are likely to do the same this time around. This World Cup should be used as a stepping stone for the growth of rugby in Portugal having missed out on using the 2007 appearance to put in development measures.
World ranking: Seven
Best World Cup showing: Pool stages (eight times)
Captain: Waisea Nayacalevu
Coach: Simon Raiwalui
Prospects: Fiji are the highest-ranked side in their pool going into this World Cup. They are looking like a proper team and have momentum and confidence behind them following their historic win over England at Twickenham in the warm-up matches. They are a team that have put everyone on notice. Having last made the quarter-finals in 2007, Fiji will feel they have a good chance of reaching the last eight again.
World ranking: Eight
Best World Cup showing: Champions (2003)
Captain: Owen Farrell
Coach: Steve Borthwick
Prospects: The 2019 Rugby World Cup finalists will be hoping to peak when this year’s competition starts. Since the Japan tournament England have been in transition and changed coaches during the process. However, they have shown glimpses of excellence but also complacency in their game recently, so they will want to get rid of any inconsistencies. England have a great shot at reaching the semi-finals as their side of the draw favours them.
World ranking: 14
Best World Cup showing: Quarterfinals (2019)
Captain: Himeno Kazuki
Coach: Jamie Joseph
Prospects: Japan are the one nation who have had consistent growth in the World Cup; in 2015 they upset the Springboks and in 2019 at home achieved their greatest moment in the game when they made the last eight. Naturally, the semi-finals should be their next target but they will fall short of that this year. Realistically the best result they can get in this edition can be a third-place finish in their pool.
World ranking: Six
Best World Cup showing: Third place (2007)
Captain: Julian Montoya
Coach: Michael Cheika
Prospects: Los Pumas have recorded some amazing results in recent years; they have defeated New Zealand, England, Australia and Scotland. This has allowed them to build well in preparation for the Rugby World Cup in France. They have quality players who are driven by passion and they are the perfect fit for their coach Michael Cheika. With their physicality, strong defence and flair, they have a great chance of playing in another bronze medal match.
World ranking: 12
Best World showing: Quarterfinals (1991,1995)
Co-Captains: Michael Alaalatoa and Chris Vui
Coach: Seilala Mapusua
Prospects: What’s a Rugby World Cup without Samoa; they are a team that fans around the world are fond of, and they always bring plenty of excitement. They have a rich history at the World Cup; they are regulars who always provide some magic and let’s not forget those bone-crunching tackles. As pool C is wide open, Samoa should be confident and believe that a place in the knockout stages is very much within reach.
World ranking: 22
Best World Cup showing: Debut
Captain: Martín Sigren
Coach: Pablo Lemoine
Prospects: Chile will be the only debutants at the Rugby World Cup this year. Being among the teams to have qualified shows they have made tremendous strides in recent years. Expectations from the Chileans should be low though; the standard of rugby at the World Cup will be high compared to what they are used to. They should take this experience in France as a learning curve and build from it.