"Final Pool Round" - Top 5 Rugby World Cup Matches to Watch this Weekend - Ruck

“Final Pool Round” – Top 5 Rugby World Cup Matches to Watch this Weekend

The final round of pool stage matches for the 2023 Rugby World Cup is upon us, with six places in the quarter-finals still up for grabs. Wales and England have already guaranteed their spots in the knock-out stages, and will be looking for clean sweeps of victories to finish at the top of their pools.

Make a Greene King pub your Rugby Rendezvous. Watch the big games on the big screens they deserve. Enjoy having great food and drink on tap. Take your pick of juicy match-ups with all the home nations, global giants, and 15-a-side superstars ready to ruck. 

Click here to check the fixtures and find your nearest Rugby Rendezvous.

There is not much longer to wait, as the weekend’s action begins tonight. New Zealand are looking to secure their place in the final eight, as they take on Uruguay this evening in Lyon (20:00 KO UK time). The All Blacks recorded an emphatic 96-17 win over Italy last time out, and want more of the same against the South Americans, in what is a milestone day for second row Sam Whitelock.

The long-serving All Black will run out for his 150th cap, and become the record appearance holder for his country. He will surpass two-time Rugby World Cup winning captain Richie McCaw to the mantle, in an incredible accomplishment. Whitelock would then become the second-most capped international rugby player of all time, behind Alun Wyn Jones’ combined Wales and British & Irish Lions record of 170.

Whitelock will also surpass McCaw and legendary England prop Jason Leonard, by running out for a record 23rd Rugby World Cup match. An expected All Blacks win over Uruguay will mark Whitelock’s 21st victory at the competition, another record he takes from his former captain McCaw. An important day for an iconic All Black, Whitelock wants a memorable victory on the road to becoming the first player ever to win three Rugby World Cups.

Here are the Top 5 Matches to Watch this weekend

Friday October 6th

1. Pool A: France vs Italy – 20:00 KO, Lyon

Friday evening’s fixture presents a decisive match in Pool A, as France and Italy meet with a spot in the Rugby World Cup knock-out stages on the line. France certainly have the statistical advantage going into this clash, but a bonus point win for the Azzurri would draw them level with Les Bleus in the pool (15 points each). Italy would then most likely progress out the pool alongside New Zealand due to the ‘Head to Head’ rule, if the All Blacks record an expected bonus point win of their own, against Uruguay.

Italy’s hopes of upsetting the hosts by such a deficit is certainly a long-shot, given how soundly they were beaten by New Zealand just a week ago. However, France’s ranks have been weakened in the absence of Antoine Dupont, with the captain sidelined with a fractured cheek bone. France Head Coach Fabien Galthie has Maxime Lucu to start at scrum half, and also brings back Gregory Alldritt into the back row.

The latest meeting between Italy and France came in the 2023 Six Nations, and the Italians were moments away from pulling off a shocking upset. An enticing encounter was far from the one-way French traffic many expected, with Galthie’s side scraping out of Rome with just a 29-24 win. Kieran Crowley will fancy his side’s chances as Italy line up at full strength, against whilst France deal with the injury absences of Dupont, fly-half Romain Ntamack and lock Paul Willemse.

In Dupont’s absence, France’s danger-man is certainly Damian Penaud. The winger is on a six-game scoring streak, which is the best form of his career. The Bordeaux winger leads the way at the 2023 Rugby World Cup with 12 tries, and has worked his way to become France’s third best try scorer of all-time, behind Serge Blanco and Vincent Clerc.


15. Thomas Ramos 14. Damian Penaud 13. Gael Fickou 12. Jonathan Danty 11. Louis Bielle-Biarrey 10. Matthieu Jalibert 9. Maxime Lucu 1. Cyril Baille 2. Peato Mauvaka 3. Uini Antoinio 4. Cameron Woki 5. Thibaud Flament 6. Anthony Jelonch 7. Charles Ollivon (C) 8. Gregory Alldritt

16. Pierre Bourgarit 17. Reda Wardi 18. Dorian Aldegheri 19. Romain Taofifenua 20. Francois Cros 21. Baptiste Couilloud 22. Yoram Moefana 23. Melvyn Jaminet


Italy line up for the anthem during the Six Nations Match between England and Italy at Twickenham, London on 12 Feb 2023 (Photo: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK)

15. Ange Capuozzo 14. Pierre Bruno 13. Juan Ignacio Brex 12. Paolo Garbisi 11. Montanna Ioane 10. Tommaso Allan 9. Stephen Varney 1. Simone Ferrari 2. Hame Faiva 3. Pietro Ceccarelli 4. Niccolo Cannone 5. Federico Ruzza 6. Sebastian Negri 7. Michele Lamaro (C) 8. Lorenzo Cannone

16. Marco Manfredi 17. Federico Zani 18. Marco Riccioni 19. David Sisi 20. Manuel Zuliani 21. Alessandro Fusco 22. Luca Morisi 23. Lorenzo Pani

RUCK Prediction: France 27 – 12 Italy