This Friday, the 2023 Rugby World Cup will get underway in France with a game that could well be a potential preview of the final.

The host nation will take on the mighty All Blacks of New Zealand in what is sure to be a fantastic opening game of the tournament.

A total of 20 teams have qualified for the finals, and they will battle it out for a place in the knockout stages of the tournament.

Included in them are all the usual suspects including Australia, Argentina, England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland plus of course, the current holders South Africa.

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Let’s now take a look at how the groups are organised, the fixtures and how the tournament will progress beyond the group stages.

Rugby World Cup 2023

  • Venue – France
  • Current Holders – South Africa

Host Cities

  • Paris – Stade de France (80,023)
  • Bordeaux – Stade de Bordeaux (42,115)
  • Saint-Etienne – Stade Geoffroy-Guichard (41,965)
  • Nice – Stade de Nice (35,983)
  • Nantes – Stade de la Beaujoire (35,520)
  • Marseille – Stade Velodrome (67,847)
  • Lyon – OL Stadium (58.883)
  • Lille – Stade Pierre-Mauroy (50,096)
  • Toulouse – Stadium de Toulouse (33,150)

Groups & Fixtures

Pool A

  • New Zealand
  • France
  • Italy
  • Uruguay
  • Namibia

Pool A Fixtures

8th September

  • France v New Zealand (Paris)

9th September

  • Italy v Namibia (Saint-Etienne)

14th September

  • France v Uruguay (Lille)

15th September

  • New Zealand v Namibia (Toulouse)

20th September

  • Italy v Uruguay (Nice)

21st September

  • France v Namibia (Marseille)

27th September

  • Uruguay v Namibia (Lyon)

29th September

  • New Zealand v Italy (Lyon)

5th October

  • New Zealand v Uruguay (Lyon)

6th October

  • France v Italy (Lyon)

Pool A Predictions

It’s pretty clear that France and New Zealand will be the two teams to qualify from Pool A and the result of the opening game of the World Cup will likely decide who tops the group and gets a potentially easier run through to the final.

Italy, Namibia and Uruguay are not going to be any real match for the top two, but with a World Cup Qualification spot available for the team that finishes third, there is a real incentive for these three teams to try and get that spot in their own mini-league.

Italy should win that race, but both Namibia and Uruguay are emerging nations and could give Italy a bit of a scare.

  • Prediction: 1. New Zealand, 2. France, 3. Italy, 4. Namibia, 5. Uruguay.

Pool B

  • South Africa
  • Ireland
  • Scotland
  • Tonga
  • Romania

Pool B Fixtures

9th September

  • Ireland v Romania (Bordeaux)

10th September

  • South Africa v Scotland (Marseille)

16th September

  • Ireland v Tonga (Nantes)

17th September

  • South Africa v Romania (Bordeaux)

23rd September

  • South Africa v Ireland (Paris)

24th September

  • Scotland v Tonga (Nice)

30th September

  • Scotland v Romania (Lille)

1st October

  • South Africa v Tonga (Marseille)

7th October

  • Ireland v Scotland (Paris)

8th October

  • Tonga v Romania (Lille)

Pool B Predictions

Ireland come into the World Cup as the top ranked team in the world and unbeaten in their last 14 games, their last defeat coming against France in Paris in the 2022 Six Nations. Over the last few years, they have bettered all the top southern hemisphere sides and personally, I feel their third favourite tag is a real boost for punters.

This group is the toughest because as well as Ireland we have the current World Champions South Africa who have won their last four games, including a big win over New Zealand in their last warm up game.

There’s also Scotland whose only defeats in recent times have come away to France and against Ireland at home.

It will be the three games between these teams that decides how the group finishes with Tonga likely to finish fourth and Romania last.

  • Predictions: 1. Ireland, 2. South Africa, 3. Scotland, 4. Tonga, 5. Romania

Pool C

  • Wales
  • Australia
  • Fiji
  • Georgia
  • Portugal

Pool C Fixtures

9th September

  • Australia v Georgia (Paris)

10th September

  • Wales v Fiji (Bordeaux)

16th September

  • Wales v Portugal (Nice)

17th September

  • Australia v Fiji (Saint-Etienne)

23rd September

  • Georgia v Portugal (Toulouse)

24th September

  • Wales v Australia (Lyon)

30th September

  • Fiji v Georgia (Bordeaux)

1st October

  • Australia v Portugal (Saint-Etienne)

7th October

  • Wales v Georgia (Nantes)

8th October

  • Fiji v Portugal (Toulouse)

Pool C Predictions

Australia and Wales should be the teams to qualify from Group C, and in that order, but if Wales slip up then Fiji, who beat England in their final warm up game for the tournament, could be a team to watch very closely.

Georgia are also an emerging side, but they won’t be strong enough to challenge the top three and for Portugal, this will likely be a steep learning curve for the Iberian peninsula team.

The game between the Aussies and Welsh will decide who tops this group and with neither team in the greatest of form, it could be a close one, but I am backing Australia to come out on top here.

  • Predictions: 1. Australia, 2. Wales, 3. Fiji, 4. Georgia, 5. Portugal

Pool D

  • England
  • Japan
  • Argentina
  • Samoa
  • Chile

Pool D Fixtures

9th September

  • England v Argentina (Marseille)

10th September

  • Japan v Chile (Toulouse)

16th September

  • Samoa v Chile (Bordeaux)

17th September

  • England v Japan (Nice)

22nd September

  • Argentina v Samoa (Saint-Etienne)

23rd September

  • England v Chile (Lille)

28th September

  • Japan v Samoa (Toulouse)

30th September

  • Argentina v Chile (Nantes)

7th October

  • England v Samoa (Lille)

8th October

  • Japan v Argentina (Nantes)

Pool D Predictions

England come into this game having won just 3, drawn one and losing ten of their last 14 games. A miserable record and one that seems to offer English fans little hope of success in this tournament.

One of those defeats came at the hands of Argentina back in November 2022 and while the Pumas have not enjoyed the best warm up, they did defeat Australia back in July and routed Spain in their final warm up fixture.

Samoa and Japan will likely battle it out for the qualification spot at the next World Cup awarded for the third place team, with Chile likely to finish bottom of the group.

  • Predictions: 1. England 2. Argentina 3. Samoa, 4. Japan, 5. Chile

The top two teams in each Pool will qualify for the knockout stages of the Rugby World Cup.

The top three teams in each pool automatically qualify for the 2027 Rugby World Cup, which is set to take place in Australia.

Pool Stage Tip

I quite like the look of a fourfold accumulator bet here with selections of New Zealand, Ireland, Australia and England to win their groups.

That bet offers odds of 11.02/1 with bet365 at present and I think it has a solid chance of success.

You can even swap out New Zealand for France if you think the home team will win Pool A and get the same odds at present.

Knockout Phase Possible Draw

In the knockout phase, two quarter finals will be played in Marseille, the remaining two quarter finals plus the two semi-finals and the final will be played at the Stade de France in Paris.

If the Groups go as predicted above, then that would leave us with the following quarter final ties.

Predicted Quarter Finals

14th October

  • Australia v Argentina (Marseille)
  • Ireland v France (Paris)

15th October

  • England v Wales (Marseille)
  • New Zealand v South Africa (Paris)

Who Will Win The Rugby World Cup?

Currently bet365 Sport has New Zealand as the 11/4 favourites, with France 3/1, South Africa 10/3, Ireland 5/1 and then the odds drift out to Australia at 11/1, England 14/1 (boosted to 16/1 at present). Argentina 22/1. Wales 40/1 and Scotland 50/1.

Fiji are 90/1 to win the tournament and after that the odds drift massively to the outsiders starting with Japan at 500/1 down to Romania, Uruguay and Namibia who are all 4000/1.

For me though, I am staggered that Ireland are not just third favourites to win the World Cup, but second favourites to win their group. No team has a record as good as the Irish and they have beaten every one of their main challengers for this trophy within the last couple of years.

For me, Ireland at 5/1 to win the tournament with bet365 Sport is one of the best value bets I have seen in a long time. Yes they may have to beat France, or New Zealand, in Paris in the quarterfinals, but they have the talent to do precisely that.