Wales have qualified for the quarter-finals, while hosts France, England and Ireland are set to join them… so, how are the knockout matches shaping up at the Rugby World Cup
- Wales should be confident of beating whichever team qualifies behind England
- Ireland in pole position in Pool B and set for crunch clash with the All Blacks
- France’s World Cup hopes could rest on the fitness of captain Antoine Dupont
- Latest Rugby World Cup 2023 news, including fixtures, live scores and results
Wales became the first team to qualify for the quarter-finals by hammering Australia 40-6 in Lyon.
Hosts France, England and Ireland also look set to reach the last eight as they too have three wins from three matches.
Here’s how the knockout matches look like shaping up…
Quarter-final 1 Wales v Argentina
Wales will want to ensure they finish top of Pool C by beating Georgia in their final group game on the 7 October.
Wales should be confident of beating whichever team qualifies behind England
Doing so would mean they would likely avoid England in the quarters. If Wales do end up finishing top of Pool C, their first knockout opponent would be one of Samoa, Japan or Argentina.
Gatland and Wales should be confident of beating whichever of those qualifies behind England. Argentina have disappointed so far, not least against England, but with Chile and Japan to play are most likely to finish second in the Pool.
Quarter-final 2 Ireland v New Zealand
Ireland’s impressive defeat of South Africa has put them in pole position to finish top of Pool B although things could still change if they are beaten by Scotland. But with 16 straight wins in the bag, it’s difficult to see Andy Farrell’s side losing.
The Pool B winners will face the runners-up in Pool A at the Stade de France in Paris. It all points to Ireland against New Zealand. The All Blacks were beaten by France in the tournament opener but should still qualify with ease.
That promises to be a humdinger of a game.
Ireland won’t be scared of New Zealand, having sealed a historic series win over them in the Southern Hemisphere last summer.
Winners of QF 1 and QF 2 meet in the semis.
Quarter-final 3 England v Fiji
Steve Borthwick has led England to three straight victories in France, their latest success a 71-0 hammering of Chile.
England’s final Pool D game is against Samoa and they are in pole position to win that one and finish top. That would set up a quarter-final with the runners-up in Wales’ pool — most likely Fiji. After Wales demolished Australia, Eddie Jones’ Wallabies are close to elimination.
If Fiji win their remaining games with Georgia and Portugal, they will qualify ahead of Australia. The Pacific Islanders are a hugely dangerous side. If they were to progress to the knock-outs it would be great for the tournament and rugby as a whole but perhaps not so good for England, who were beaten by them at Twickenham last month.
England against Fiji would also be a significant clash of styles.
Quarter-final 4 France v South Africa
This prospective quarter-final shows just how lopsided the draw is. It would be worthy of a final. France will finish top of Pool A and unless Scotland throw a spanner in the works, South Africa look likely to finish runners-up to Ireland in Pool B.
France captain Antoine Dupont faces a race against time to be fit for first knockout round
That would see the two sides go head to head in Paris in what would be a mouthwatering clash.
The potential outcome of this game could well be decided by the fitness of France captain Antoine Dupont. The scrum-half fractured his cheekbone against Namibia and faces a race against time to be able to play his team’s first knockout round.
South Africa paid the price for missed kicks against Ireland but don’t write off the defending champions just yet. They will surely be back to have a big say in who wins this tournament.
Winners of QF 3 and QF 4 meet in the semis.
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