Here are three outside bets for the Rugby World Cup, which starts on Friday 8th of September.
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The Men’s Rugby World Cup is always difficult to predict, especially when multiple high-profile teams are involved. This year, Ireland, France, South Africa and New Zealand all have a chance of lifting the esteemed trophy.
There’s no way anyone outside this circle could win the Webb Ellis trophy. However, just because it’s unlikely doesn’t mean it can’t happen.
Tournament : 8 September to 28 October 2023
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Due to the introduction of new international eligibility rules for the very first time, this World Cup should be the most competitive to date. Following a three-year stand-down from international rugby, players can now switch nationalities, making the pool of talent across nations even more vibrant.
Flo Rugby takes a look at the three teams set to surprise in France this autumn based on greater competition.
With the arrival of some extremely talented players backs, Tongo have become one of the biggest beneficiaries of the new international eligibility laws. Malakai Fekitoa, Charles Piutau, Pita Ahki, George Moala, the box office, and Israel Folau, who are all highly controversial.
The arrival of these players has enlivened the Tonga camp and transformed them overnight into a genuine force to be reckoned with. While before the nation lacked the skill and know-how to break a game open, now they have a number of stars with exceptional skills.
When Tonga played Australia A at the start of July, they won 27-21 after a physically dominant 80 minutes. Despite the fact that Tonga faced a Wallabies team that was stacked with athletes competing for starting spots, they still made a meal of their opponents despite being a secondary outfit.
Tonga will face greater challenges in their World Cup pool with Ireland, South Africa, and Scotland. It’s by far the most competitive group in the competition, so they are unlikely to advance by any means. Nevertheless, they will cause problems for teams and could win over Scotland, who may crumble when faced with such a combination of physicality and skill.
This autumn, Tonga may shock a fair few rugby fans with their brawn.
The first two pools of the World Cup are stacked with title potential, as South Africa, France, Ireland and New Zealand – arguably the four best teams in the world at the moment – are all in them.
Because of this, England and Australia have been derided for sitting on the other side of the draw. It’s almost been assumed that the two nations will breeze through to the semi-finals, but this assumption overlooks Los Pumas.
A team like Argentina can take on any nation in a standalone game. Their backline is filled with real firecrackers, including all-around back three maestro Emiliano Boffelli, the effortlessly cool Santiago Carreras, and the unstoppable Mateo Carreras.
With these men in office, Argentina is right in the mix and could top their group if they repeat last year’s exploits and beat England again. When Los Pumas beat England 30 29 at Twickenham in November, they shocked the rugby world, and they could do the same this year.
The prevalence of sevens players in the Fijian rugby community has created a whole host of athletes with unstoppable engines and even more audacious ball skills over the years.
Fiji is your port of call if you want to watch fast rugby with outrageous offloads.
At times, the nation has struggled to translate its penchant for sevens into fifteens success.
The squad is now dripping with star names. In the backline, you have a potential partnership of Josua Tuisova and Semi Radradra. That is one of the best partnerships in international rugby.
In addition to Jiuta Wainiqolo, Toulon’s 25-year-old star winger, Tevita Ikanivere, Api Ratuniyarawa and La Rochelle’s Levani Botia, you have a squad with real power.
Fiji’s World Cup pool should also give anyone in doubt their chances. Consequently, Fiji has a real chance of not only winning the odd game, but actually making it to the knockouts for the first time since 2007. It includes Wales and Australia, two of the worst performing nations in rugby right now.