Venue – Nine Stadiums Around France
Dates – Friday, September 8 – Saturday, October 28
2023 Rugby World Cup Winning Odds:
The tenth men’s Rugby World Cup kicks off tomorrow at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis (Paris) with a mouthwatering clash between hosts France and tournament favorites New Zealand.
What follows will be a month and a half of action, with 20 teams competing to be at that same venue on Saturday, October 28 in the 2023 Rugby World Cup final.
The group stages will be fascinating thanks to a nonsensical decision to draw for pool places way back in 2020 almost three years before the competition. This has led to the current top five teams in the world sitting in Pool A and Pool B, with Pool B being especially loaded with Ireland (1), South Africa (2), and Scotland (5) set to battle it out to finish first or second in the pool and move on to the quarter-finals.
New Zealand – 3/1
New Zealand are the overall favorites for the comp but this team has flaws compared to their very best sides over the last couple of decades. The playmaking is there with Richie Mo’unga at 10 and Beauden Barrett at 15, but they are entering the tournament on the back of a record 35-7 defeat at the hands of South Africa that exposed frailties in their pack against an opponent with serious beef in its ball carriers.
France – 33/10
The French have the advantage of playing on home soil, which will be a blessing or a curse depending on how well they start the tournament. So much rides on their opening game against the All Blacks, though both should qualify from the pool comfortably regardless of that first up game.
The loss of fly-half Romain Ntamack on the eve of the World Cup with an ACL injury was a huge blow, but this is still a serious squad and the French might have the best strength in depth of any country in the world.
South Africa – 33/10
The defending champs sit in that ominous looking Pool B with both Ireland and Scotland looking to upend the Springboks. South Africa still have the best power game in the world, though without Handre Pollard there are some questions about the side having a steadying force at No. 10.
This is, however, a team that seems to be rounding into form at the right time and the return of Siya Kolisi from injury has been nothing short of remarkable.
Ireland – 5/1
Ireland are looking to break a cycle where they come into the World Cup with high expectations only to fall at the quarter-final stage. This is will be a last hurrah on the international scene for the great Johnny Sexton, while they have legitimate world class operations in players like Hugo Keenan and No. 8 Caelan Doris. This is a team to watch out for.
The Dark Horses
England have no form and no spark, yet they are a dark horse for a reason. Their pool draw means that wins over Argentina and a Japan side that doesn’t appear to be the force it was three years ago would set up a quarter-final likely against either Wales or Australia. From there it would be just three wins to the trophy, something that doesn’t seem entirely impossible given England’s grinding style under Steve Borthwick
The cruel injury picked up by Fiji fly-half Caleb Muntz in training before the tournament has me lower than I would otherwise be on the Pacific Islanders. Their squad is sensational – especially in the backline – but without Muntz conducting the orchestra, I am unsure if Fiji can do much more than get to a quarter-final. Disappointing.
Opening Game Bets
This has to be the moment for France. A win here kicks the World Cup into gear with the hosts dreaming of topping their group and moving forward into an easier (relatively) quarter-final. Take the hosts to win this straight up.