2023 Rugby Wrap
As the dust settles from yet another memorable Six Nations, we take stock of how the drama unfolded. At the same time look ahead to the imminent July internationals. The teams from the Northern Hemisphere have a good idea of where their current level is, and what work is required before the World Cup in France.
Ireland and France in particular are both in a strong position. In a short few months, the teams located in the Southern Hemisphere get their turn to sharpen the spear prior to rugby’s larger showpiece. The Rugby Championship is something to look forward to as we rapidly approach mid-year. Let’s have a look in more detail at the 2023 Rugby Wrap thus far.
The Six Nations that was
Ireland, France & England
Unbeaten in this year’s edition, Ireland were deserved winners of the Six Nations. So by any measure winning the ‘grand slam’ is enough to celebrate, this year the Irish went one better by beating highflyers France as well. The French were again at their mercurial best, and only an impressive performance by Ireland halted their winning streak. It really was a 2-horse race, with the plucky Scots occupying third place at the end of the tournament.
With a fit Johnny Sexton at the helm, Ireland have an experienced general who seems to get the best out of this experienced Irish team. Their Six Nations performance validates their current number 1 world ranking.
For France, it could have gone either way. Therefore one feels that their loss to Ireland is a mere blip for this impressive French team. Antoine Dupont is their clear talisman- he needs to be wrapped in cottonwool and saved for the World Cup. He controls a game like no other and can change a game in an instant.
Scotland, Wales & Italy
The fiery Scots had one of their better campaigns. They pushed France close for a bit in their game against them but ran out of steam when France built scoreboard pressure. Their win against England remains a highlight. The other teams in their World Cup pool won’t have it all their own way.
Wales had a shocker of a Six Nations. They are not close to the highs of a few years back when they were Six Nations champs. They do historically perform well at World Cups, so they will have to lean on that history as the clock counts down.
Lastly Italy. While not able to claim any big scalps in the competition, the rugby world has noticed that this young Italian team plays an exciting brand of rugby. A few wins under the belt will build the teams’ confidence. What better place to aim for this than at a World Cup? The Rugby Wrap 2023 gives a bit more perspective on current rugby and who is on form.
This year there are no June internationals. Traditionally, teams from the Northern Hemisphere travel South to finish off their season against one of South Africa, Australia, or New Zealand. Due to the World Cup later this year, the 2023 rugby calendar is a bit thinner.
As we begin the season, the Springboks usually have some rust to dust off as they get into the groove. With game time in the URC and Champions Cup, the South African players have definitely had sufficient game time. As always there are a few injury concerns, none more so than with ‘man mountain’ Eben Etzebeth. He is in a race against time to be ready for the World Cup. Jacques Nienaber has to find the winning formula as soon as possible, with the World Champs vying for a successful renewal of their title.
The arrival of Eddie Jones as head coach of Australia is an interesting one. Historically very successful at World Cups, Jones needs to turn things around quickly in the Australian camp. Also known to be a polarising figure, Jones will need to get the buy in of the larger squad if his dream of World Cup success stands any chance.
New Zealand are also in an interesting space. With Scott Robinson recently announced as head coach post the World Cup, one wonders what this has done to incumbent coach Steve Hansen? The All Blacks pride themselves on their winning rugby culture, and anything but ultimate victory later this year will be seen as a failure. They have a point to prove as the season fast approaches.
This year’s Rugby Championship begins on the 8th of July. The competition culminates on the 29th of July. This is the final chance for the competing teams to confirm their preferred combinations and to find that desired winning form. Furthermore as with every World Cup year, this year’s competition is reduced. Each team will only play one another once. Defending champions New Zealand, no doubt want to come out on top. Whoever is ultimately successful heads into the business end of the year with great momentum.
While the World Cup ultimately harbours all of the attention, there is still a fair amount of rugby to play before then. How the teams fare leading up to the showpiece is going to be of utmost interest. This year any one of 7 teams stand a realistic chance of winning- it could be the most open competition in years. Could this be the year of a new champion, or will one of the previous winners add to their tally? Bets are on. Let the Rugby Wrap 2023 help you decide!
Rugby World Cup 2023
In conclusion, this Rugby Wrap 2023 is just an indicator where some of the top teams currently are performance wise. We still have 4 months to the Rugby World Cup in France however that is not much time. It will fly by for sure! So let’s have a look at the latest World Rugby Rankings as of March 2023:
1. Ireland (91.82)
2. France (90.47)
3. New Zealand (88.98)
4. South Africa (88.97)
5. Scotland (82.77)
6. England (82.12)
7. Australia (81.80)
8. Argentina (80.72)
9. Wales (78.08)
10. Japan (77.39)
So let’s see which heavy weights will make full recoveries before the World Cup, as this will surely have an impact on quite a few teams. Especially the Springboks who will be defending champions and have a few injured players of concern.
Where to Bet on Rugby
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