All fans of rugby will have thoroughly enjoyed the recent 2023 World Cup in France. Taking place from early September 2023 to late October 2023, it contained some big hits, awesome tries and top-class kicking. This tournament also brought the best teams in world rugby together to serve up some scintillating action for fans to enjoy.
This saw some great world championship games played out and some amazing highlights emerge. But what were the best moments from the Rugby World Cup 2023?
France romp to win in opening match
The 2023 Rugby World Cup was the first time since 2007 that the competition had been held in France. As you would expect, this meant there was a magical atmosphere for the hosts’ opening game, in particular.
Excitement levels were only raised higher when you remember that this match was against many people’s top pick for glory, in New Zealand. This led many to expect a classic encounter– and both sides certainly delivered.
Although France conceded a try in the first few minutes, they showed superb mental toughness to eventually win 27-13. Thomas Ramos was in fine form with the boot to keep his side in it, but it was perhaps Damian Penaud’s try just after New Zealand had scored that was instrumental in a Les Bleus win. This really was an absorbing clash and a great way to start the competition.
Drop goals from Ford and a record for Farrell
Of course, fans of English rugby will have their own highlights to look back on from this World Cup. Steve Borthwick’s men really grew into the competition and did a lot better than many expected. This positive tone was set during their game against Argentina, when George Ford put on something of a drop-kicking masterclass.
This saw experienced fly-half Ford smash home three accurate drop-kicks in the first half – including one from the halfway line! This helped wrestle momentum back from Argentina, who were a man up after Tom Curry had been sent off after only three minutes.
In terms of World Cup 2023 highlights for English fans, Owen Farrell becoming the nations all-time leading scorer in the match against Fiji was also memorable. This saw him race past the previous points record of 1,179 that Jonny Wilkinson had set.
Fiji beat Australia
Although Fiji are never a team to take lightly, Australia’s status still made Eddie Jones’ men the favourites for their group clash. An opening game loss to Wales seemed to leave the Fijian players really fired up for a win here, though, and they more than delivered.
It is fair to say that Fiji simply outclassed the struggling Aussie team on the day and their 22-15 triumph was well deserved. This win was even sweeter when you remember it was the first time Fiji had overcome Australia in 69 years! Although the poor form of Jones’ side played its part, the power, strength and skill of Fiji was awesome to see.
Ireland beat South Africa
This Pool B clash was a massive highlight of the 2023 World Cup for most rugby fans and brought together the two best sides in world rugby. It turned out to be a classic, and players such as Johnny Sexton and Manie Libbok put on a real show for the watching public.
Ireland ultimately ran out 13-8 winners, in a bruising and fiercely contested game. This turned out to be the defending champions (and eventual winners) South Africa’s only defeat in the tournament. Mack Hanson’s try to give the Irish a half-time lead was sensational, before penalties from Sexton and Crowley gave them the win.
South Africa edge thrilling final
As we started this rundown with the opening game of the competition, it only makes sense that we finish with the final game. This was definitely a real highlight for many watching fans and saw South Africa edge past New Zealand to retain their crown.
Although a close South Africa 12 – New Zealand 11 scoreline stands out, it is the drama this match delivered that is most memorable. For example, Sam Cane became the first player ever to be sent off in a World Cup final, after a dangerous tackle on Jesse Kriel. Although a Beauden Barrett try for the 14-man Kiwi’s made it a nail-biting finish, South Africa hung on to taste victory.
2023 Rugby World Cup full of highlights
When you also think of Portugal’s first ever World Cup win or South Africa just getting past England in their semifinal, it is obvious what a brilliant edition of the competition 2023’s Rugby World Cup was. While all fans will have their own personal highlights, those mentioned here will not be forgotten.