The 2023 Rugby World Cup is being staged in France has reached the quarter-final knock-out stage. The eight progressing nations are the winners and runners-up of the pool stages that have played through the last month in groups of five.

On Saturday Wales will take on Argentina, while Ireland clash with New Zealand.

And on Sunday France meet holders South Africa while England and little Fiji battle it out in the other quarter-final.

These dramatic matches will display the cream of international rugby in 2023. And the form book is surely unable to show which of them can be confidently predicted to reach the final in two weeks’ time.

 Those left to go home include Australia, previously highly ranked, who were pushed out following defeat by Fiji, the enigma of the championship. Fiji had surprisingly beaten England in a pre-championship “warm-up” game at Twickenham and therefore have the psychological advantage in their quarter-final, even though England have won all their pool matches.

Another with high expectations was Japan, but they lost to Argentina in a late final few minutes flurry of tries by the South Americans. Argentina will meet Wales but the prospects of either reaching the final seem remote.

Italy carried some expectations but following two victories they came up against France and the All Blacks, conceding avalanches of tries.

France have the incentive of never before winning the Webb Ellis Cup, but have high hopes after defeating the All Blacks in a championship “warm-up” opener a month ago, although their Boks opponents this weekend will surely be formidable. France have the finesse, South Africa the muscle. This match could certainly go either way.

 Massive boisterous and nationalistic crowds can be expected in French city stadiums this weekend, all watched by a likely record number of television fans world-wide.


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