Rugby World Cup 2023: Opening Weekend Roundup

Rugby World Cup's 10th Edition, In France. Image: World Rugby.

Over the weekend, the 10th edition of the Rugby World Cup got underway in France, with eight matches across all four pools being played. The home nations, England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales were all in action as they looked to make a strong start in their bid to win the coveted Webb Ellis trophy.

Pool A

After the opening ceremony on Friday night, hosts France kicked off the tournament against three-time winners New Zealand with a 27-13 win. Despite the All Blacks scoring first, after just two minutes of play, five penalties from fullback Thomas Ramos and tries from Damian Penaud and Melvyn Jaminet helped Les Bleus inflict a first-ever Rugby World Cup pool stage loss on the Southern Hemisphere side.

Italy also got off to a good start, beating Namibia 52-8 and giving themselves a healthy points difference going into their second fixture against Uruguay. Seven different Italians got on the scoresheet at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard in Saint-Étienne,

Pool B

Joint-favourites Ireland put 82 points past Romania in Bordeaux to claim the biggest win of the weekend. There were eight different scorers for Andy Farrell’s number-one ranked side, including a double from both Johnny Sexton and Peter O’Mahony.

Scotland, on the other hand, slumped to a disappointing 18-3 loss to reigning champions South Africa. They face an uphill battle now to qualify from their group, with Ireland still to play in a month’s time.

Pool C

After a difficult summer series, Eddie Jones’ Australia were able to comfortably beat Georgia 35-15. Mark Nawaqanitawase, Jordan Petaia and Ben Donaldson put the 1991 and 1999 World Cup winners on their way to a third competition win.

In the game of the weekend, Wales narrowly edged past Fiji 32-26 to put them second in Pool C ahead of their game against Portugal this Saturday. Josh Adams, George North, Louis Rees-Zammit and Elliot Dee touched down for the 10th-ranked side in the world.

Pool D

George Ford’s kicking masterclass saw England beat Argentina 27-10 despite playing almost all of the game with 14 men. Flanker Tom Curry was red-carded after just three minutes but flyhalf Ford stepped up to the plate to score all 27 points for his team and give England a famous victory in Marseille.

Rugby World Cup 2019 hosts Japan beat newcomers Chile 42-12 in Toulouse. Rodrigo Fernandez and Alfonso Escobar scored the first tries on the sport’s biggest stage for Chile.

This weekend sees the four teams that did not play, Uruguay, Portugal, Samoa and Tonga, get their campaigns underway, while the pick of the bunch is England v Japan in Pool D on Sunday night.

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Ross Sanderson

Based in Edinburgh, Ross is an NCTJ-qualified journalist. Having previously lived in Madrid, he specialises in Spanish Culture, Sport and Cuisine.