"Must Win for All Blacks" - 5 Rugby World Cup Matches to Watch This Weekend - Ruck

“Must Win for All Blacks” – 5 Rugby World Cup Matches to Watch This Weekend

The fourth round of action in the 2023 Rugby World Cup pool stages is well underway, with another exciting line-up of fixtures in store this weekend. England take a well-earned rest this week, after three consecutive wins has taken them to top spot in Pool D.

The opening fixture took place last night, as Namibia and Uruguay battled in an under-rated barn-burner of a match. The search for an elusive first ever Rugby World Cup win goes on for Namibia, after the ultimate underdogs were defeated by their own poor discipline. Two yellow cards saw prop Johan Coetzee and captain Tijuee Uanivi take trips to the sin bin, whilst replacement prop Desiderius Sethie had his yellow upgraded to a red in the off-field bunker review.

Uruguay took control and ran away with the match in the second half, for a 36-26 victory. Namibia captain Uanivi admitted ill-discipline was his side’s undoing: “Our discipline let us down. To get two yellow cards and then a red makes it very hard. Our discipline at the end of the day cost us.

“We lost the game but I am very proud of the boys. I know they left it all out there. Apart from the discipline issue, I am super proud of them.”

England’s Pool D opponents Japan and Samoa were in action last night, as the Brave Blossoms secured a 28-22 win against the Pacific Islanders. Japan made amends from their unexpected defeat to Samoa in the 2023 Pacific Nations Cup last Summer (24-22), as tries from Pieter Labuschagne, Michael Leitch and Kazuki Himeno kept the dream of a quarter-final spot alive.

Japan and Argentina are set to collide on Sunday October 8th, with the winner of that looking to join England in the knock-out stages of the Rugby World Cup. There are six more exciting matches to watch this weekend, beginning with the All Blacks taking on Italy this evening.

Here are the top five Rugby World Cup pool stage matches to watch this weekend.

Friday September 29th

Match in Focus

Pool A: New Zealand vs Italy, 20:00 KO, Lyon

Friday’s late kick-off takes centre stage after Japan vs Samoa, as New Zealand take on Italy in what is with a doubt a ‘must win’ game for the All Blacks. If Italy secure the unexpected upset victory, New Zealand will be ousted from the competition at the pool stages for the first time in their illustrious history.

The three time Rugby World Cup winners sit at third in Pool A, five points adrift of Italy (who are yet to play pool leaders France). The All Blacks want nothing less than a bonus point win tomorrow night in Lyon, to keep their push for a record fourth Rugby World Cup title alive. There are some significant milestones in the match, with New Zealand lock Sam Whitelock set to become the most-capped All Black of all time if he comes off the bench.

Whitelock is set to overtake two-time Rugby World Cup winning captain Richie McCaw, and make his 149th All Blacks cap in Lyon. This will also mark Whitelock’s 22nd Rugby World Cup appearance, which will equal the record that is currently shared by McCaw and legendary England prop Jason Leonard. Italy line-up under the watchful eye of former All Black Kieran Crowley, who won the inaugural Rugby World Cup with New Zealand back in 1987.

NEW ZEALAND: 15. Beauden Barrett, 14. Will Jordan, 13. Rieko Ioane, 12. Jordie Barrett, 11. Mark Telea 10. Richie Mo’unga, 9. Aaron Smith 1. Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 2. Codie Taylor, 3. Nepo Laulala, 4. Brodie Retallick, 5. Scott Barrett, 6. Shannon Frizell, 7. Dalton Papali’i, 8. Ardie Savea (captain)

Replacements: 16. Dane Coles, 17. Tamaiti Williams, 18. Tyrel Lomax, 19. Samuel Whitelock, 20. Sam Cane, 21. Cam Roigard, 22. Damian McKenzie, 23. Anton Lienert-Brown

ITALY: 15. Tommaso Allan, 14. Ange Capuozzo 13. Juan Ignacio Brex 12. Luca Morisi, 11. Montanna Ioane; 10. Paolo Garbisi, 9. Stephen Varney, 1. Danilo Fischetti, 2. Giacomo Nicotera, 3. Marco Riccioni, 4. Dino Lamb, 5. Federico Ruzza, 6. Sebastian Negri, 7. Michele Lamaro (captain) 8. Lorenzo Cannone

Replacements: 16. Hame Faiva, 17. Ivan Nemer, 18. Simone Ferrari, 19. Niccolo Cannone, 20. Manuel Zuliani, 21. Toa Halafihi, 22. Martin Page-Relo, 23. Paolo Odogwu

RUCK Prediction: New Zealand 32 – 18 Italy