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2023 Rugby World Cup: Will the Wallabies lift the Webb Ellis Cup?

A shot of the crowd at the 2019 Rugby World Cup

The eyes of the rugby world have descended upon the land of baguettes, Bordeaux wine, and berets as twenty nations vie for the Webb Ellis Cup. South African and Yak Writer (in that order) Ben Collison reports.

For the second time in the competition’s history, France will solely host the Rugby World Cup with games being played out in Paris, Marseille, Lyon, Lille, Bordeaux, Saint-Etienne, Nice, Nantes and Toulouse. This historic moment will see many firsts for the world of rugby, as well as the opportunity for nations to cement their place and become the stuff of legends.

The 2023 World Cup will also see a longer competition with additional rest days being introduced to support player welfare. This will see the competition last seven weeks as opposed to the usual six.

Begging the question, who will take home the honours this year? Can the Wallabies get their hands on the Webb Ellis Cup?

Interestingly, only four teams have ever won the World Cup. Both New Zealand and South Africa have won three titles, Australia has won two and England just once.

Will a new nation add its name in a place of honour? Or will South Africa secure a historic fourth win?

Webb Ellis Cup

The Webb Ellis Cup, awarded to the winning team of the Men’s Rugby World Cup.

Australia’s Wallabies have a tough job ahead of them. With mixed results leading into the World Cup, Eddie Jones and his men must give it their all if they expect to make it past the pool stage. The Wallabies are in Pool C, which sees them go up against Fiji, Portugal, Georgia, and Wales.

In all fairness, the Wallabies have been less than spectacular in recent years. Plagued by injury, coaching turnover, and subpar performances, it will take something special if they have a shot at lifting the Webb Ellis Cup in just over a months time. Both history and the record books are against the Wallabies, especially after failing to regain the Bledisloe Cup earlier this year and finishing last in the Rugby Championships; a field populated by World Cup favourites, the All Blacks, Springboks and Pumas (Argentina). The internal instability within the team and coaching staff, and a lack of confidence from their supporter base have also compounded woes for the Wallabies.

Despite a 35 – 15 win on the weekend over Georgia, there is still a lot of work to be done if the Wallabies want to be taken seriously.

Odds on favourites are South Africa’s Springboks. Skipper Siya Kolisi and his team have had a very grounded, humbling and inspirational camp ahead of the tournament that has produced some daunting results in the face of would-be contenders. The momentum behind the Springboks has garnered respect and support around the globe.

But it won’t be a walk in the Kruga for the Bokke. Heavyweights the All Blacks can never be discounted despite a loss in the opening weekend against host nation France. Additionally, expectations are high for number one ranked team, Ireland. France are also serious contenders not only for their host nation advantage but for electrifying performances from Antoine Dupont and his men over the last several months.

Back at home, local Rugby Union fans and players alike are anticipating an unpredictable World Cup.

University of Newcastle Rugby Union Club spokesman Bradley Cunningham said, “Each pool will have some very entertaining rugby and it [will] really come down to the final quarter make-up.”

Bradly also cited the growth of union in South America, with three teams from the continent competing for a first in World Cup History. It is also the first time that no team from North America will compete, with both Canada and the United States failing to qualify.

“If anything, this cup will be a big one to expect the unexpected,” Cunningham said.

All the action from the Rugby World Cup can be seen on Stan Sport  or on Channel 9.

Feature Image by Stefan Lehner via Unsplash

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