By Ross Sanderson • 13 September 2023 • 13:45
2023 Rugby World Cup Credit: Paolo Bona/Shutterstock.com
After a scintillating first weekend in this year’s Rugby World Cup, all but four teams have played their opening fixtures – Tonga, Samoa, Portugal and Uruguay. Each week there are games to be played from Thursday to Sunday evening until the final in the Stade de France on October 28th. As we gear up for week two starting tomorrow, here are the best games to look forward to.
The second of three games on Saturday sees Portugal get their campaign underway in just their second-ever appearance at a World Cup, the first and only other time being in 2007. This game is worth keeping an eye on because although Wales got off to a winning start last weekend against Fiji, there were only six points in it and Fiji were the side to finish the stronger. There is no doubt that Portugal goes into this game as underdogs but, at the same time, they have nothing to fear and nothing to lose. Anything can happen at a World Cup and Portugal will be hoping to be the first side to cause an upset this year.
After an 82-8 drubbing of Romania in round one, fans are keen to see if Ireland can replicate that performance against another side yet to step out on the pitch in France. Tonga, unlike Portugal however, are World Cup stalwarts, having qualified for all but one tournament since its inception in 1987. Recent changes to the World Rugby rules, which now allow players to change the national country that they play for, have given Tonga an added firepower that they may not have had before. Former All Blacks Malakai Fekitoa and Charles Piutau have been added to the ranks and can certainly cause trophy-favourites Ireland some problems.
As one of just 10 teams to have qualified for every edition of the competition, Australia knows what it takes to perform on the biggest stage. The two-time winners come up against a Fijian side that arguably plays the most attractive rugby on the planet. The island nation has a perfect blend of speed and power, while always trying to keep the ball alive and moving. Both Australia and Fiji play a very fast-paced, expansive game which has the balance of this matchup finely poised.
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Based in Edinburgh, Ross is an NCTJ-qualified journalist. Having previously lived in Madrid, he specialises in Spanish Culture, Sport and Cuisine.
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