Rugby World Cup 2023: Guide to Pool C and D

Warren Gatland guided Wales to the semi-finals four years ago. With his side on the 'favourable' half of the draw, could they reach the last four again?

Wales, Australia and England will need to improve on recent results if they are to be successful in France with the likes of Fiji and Argentina more than capable of progressing into the last eight.

Pool C

  • Australia
  • Wales
  • Fiji
  • Georgia
  • Portugal

A group that will mainly be seen as a shootout between the three bigger sides in Wales, Fiji and Australia but don’t rule out any upsets either.

Georgia beat Wales in Cardiff not too long ago, and with Australia’s form going into this World Cup, it means it wouldn’t be the biggest shock if we do see one or two surprise results.

This is a group where every game will matter, even against Portugal who will be looking to impress in their first Rugby World Cup since 2007.

Key Fixtures

This pool has many key fixtures, the biggest being Wales vs Fiji on the opening weekend. The Pacific Islanders will be bounding into Bordeaux after beating England for the first time, and they will be looking to perhaps recreate history after they defeated Wales 38-34 back in 2007 in Nantes.

Fiji vs Australia and then the Wallabies against Wales on September 24th are two other standout clashes and in my opinion, these are the three fixtures that will decide who goes through in this group.

Players to watch

Waisea Nayacalevu (Fiji): The Fijian captain, who was crucial to his side's win at Twickenham last month, is the representation of Fijian flair. He will look to lead by example for his side by entertaining and wowing fans in France.

Mark Nawaqanitawase (Australia): Whilst Australia under Eddie Jones have had a turbulent time to say the least so far, this man has stood out with some brilliant tries and line breaks. At 6ft4, he is a physical specimen and the Wallabies will need to use him effectively if they are to progress.

Jac Morgan (Wales):  The newly appointed Wales co-captain will be looking to lead from the front in this tournament. The game in Cardiff against England last month gave us a great insight into what he can do, with huge hits and marauding runs and carries. The new responsibility of captaincy will hopefully only see the back-rower get better.

Who will go through?

This group is one of the closest in terms of where the teams sit in the world rankings currently. History would dictate that Wales and Australia would be the ones to go through, however, I believe that it will be the Pacific Islanders in Fiji that will top the pool followed by the Wallabies, who will manage to squeeze past Wales with Eddie Jones getting the edge over his long-time rival Warren Gatland.

Pool D

  • England
  • Argentina
  • Japan
  • Samoa
  • Chile

When this pool was drawn, you would have said it would have been England who were the favourites to go through as group winners but now it’s arguably Argentina who hold that position, with Steve Borthwick’s side having the worry that they may not qualify at all, as Japan and even
Samoa will be no pushovers.

Samoa do have an exciting squad full of talent and they did push Ireland very close a couple of weeks ago while Japan, as we know from the last few
tournaments, love pulling off a miracle.

Key Fixtures

Argentina vs England on Saturday night seems like it could decide how this group turns out, with the winner arguably having one foot in the quarter-finals.

England vs Samoa is another game I believe fans should keep a keen eye out for as there is a potential for an upset in Lille on October 7th, and it could prove to be a crucial game for Borthwick's men if they were to lose their opener against Los Pumas.

Players to watch

Mateo Carreras (Argentina):  The Newcastle star is arguably one of the quickest men at the World Cup so make sure you are watching him closely or you may miss him. If Argentina can create space for the flyer, it will be a long day for opponents. Another man who, if he starts the tournament well, could challenge for the accolade of top try scorer in France.

Theo McFarland (Samoa): The former basketball player is a phenomenal athlete at 6ft6 and 18 stone. With some serious speed and an outrageous offloading game too, the Saracens man will cause problems and he will be someone his club teammates at England might be very nervous to face.

Joe Marchant (England): This may seem like a bit of a rogue shout for an English player to look out for, but I believe the centre has been one of the few bright sparks for England in the last month. Playing well in both games against Wales and then scoring off the bench against Fiji, he offers a great attacking threat with brilliant running lines as well as a very prominent aerial presence combined with a solid defensive game.

He could really establish himself as a Test level player at this World Cup.

Who will go through?

in this group, I believe it will be the Argentinians who go through first after just edging out England on the opening weekend. Then sneaking into the last eight will be Borthwick's men, who I think will collect enough points from their remaining pool matches to reach the quarter-finals.