"Ford Included" - Top 5 Performers From Rugby World Cup Match Day One - Ruck

“Ford Included” – Top 5 Performers From Rugby World Cup Match Day One

The opening weekend of the 2023 Rugby World Cup is in the books, after the first eight pool stage matches have been decided. The competition began with France toppling the All Blacks for a emphatic 27-13 win, before Italy recorded a landslide 52-8 score-line over Namibia to wrap up Pool A.

Pool B began with the biggest win of the weekend, as Ireland put the sword to Romania, scoring more than a point per minute in the 82-8 dismantling. Andy Farrell was sure to have watched on, as the Springboks then battled it out with Scotland for a 18-3 win, despite the resilient efforts of Gregor Townsend’s men.

Pool C witnessed Eddie Jones’ Wallabies return to winning form, with a 35-15 triumph over progressing contenders Georgia. Wales and Fiji’s match-up was a thrilling encounter, with Warren Gatland’s men achieving a crucial 32-26 win over the Pacific Islanders.

All eyes were on Head Coach Steve Borthwick for the opening Pool D match, with England able to produce the goods in their 27-10 win over Argentina. Japan and Chile then closed out the action in Pool D, with the Brave Blossoms announcing their intentions to progress out the pool, with a 42-12 win over the Rugby World Cup debutants.

Here are the top five performers, from the opening round of the 2023 Rugby World Cup pool stages.


George Ford was the man of the hour for England, and dutifully stepped up the the fly half mantle in the absence of the suspended Owen Farrell. Ford slotted each and every one of England’s 27 points against Argentina, with six penalties and a hat-trick of magnificent ‘Wilkinson-esque’ drop goals to keep the scoreboard ticking over.

Ford’s talents were not limited to the boot, as he led his back-line with aplomb in what was England’s best performance since Borthwick took over as Head Coach. Alongside scrum half Alex Mitchell, Ford maintained England’s blistering tempo in attack, which the Pumas could not contain. Argentina were on the back-foot, and gave away repeated penalties at the breakdown, with Ford more than happy to kick extended daylight from the tee.

With these 27 points, Ford eclipsed his previous record points haul in an England jersey by three, after accruing 24 points in the 2020 Six Nations win over France. A positive start for England, despite facing an albeit poor Argentina side. After an underwhelming run of form the previous Summer, England’s adage of ‘coming good at the Rugby World Cup’, seems to be taking shape. Ford’s contributions were essential in the victory, with England now turning their focus to Japan this Sunday.


Wales lock Will Rowlands put in a massive defence shift against Fiji, as Warren Gatland’s side recorded a crucial win to start their World Cup campaign in Pool C. Rowlands was ever-present in defence, to make bruising hits on the hard-running Pacific Islanders. Rowlands made a total of 27 completed tackles, which saw him end the match at the top of the charts. He will certainly be feeling the effects of the match this morning, after an immense effort in Bordeax.

Rowland’s tackling ability was further demonstrated, as he did not miss a single attempt on the illusive Flying Fijians. Despite their best efforts to side-step or fend the former Dragons man, Rowlands timed his tackles to perfection, and seized his opponents to halt all attacking momentum. The Racing 92 lock further disrupted the Fijian flow in attack, with four breakdown turnovers. Rowland was often the man receiving the plaudits from his teammates, with his turnovers receiving Welsh cheers that matched those which rang out following a try.

Rowland’s was Wales’ stand-out player in defence, with Gareth Thomas and Jac Morgan also emptying the tackle tank to secure this win over Fiji. Pool C is the hardest group to predict in who will progress, yet Warren Gatland’s men will be delighted to get up and running after a thrilling fixture in Bordeaux.