"Wait is Almost Over" - Top 5 Rugby World Cup Matches to Watch this Weekend - Ruck

“Wait is Almost Over” – Top 5 Rugby World Cup Matches to Watch this Weekend

The long awaited 2023 Rugby World Cup gets underway this weekend, with the opening three days of action providing eight fixtures to enjoy. The pubs and fan zones are getting ready to open for a busy few weeks of Rugby World Cup action, with the buzz well and truly in the air.

Will the Springboks retain the Webb Ellis Cup? Can Les Bleus make home advantage count? Could the mighty All Blacks bounce back to world domination?

Questions like these are on every rugby fan’s mind as we count down to France 2023.

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.

With the first match kicking off, here are the top five Rugby World Cup matches to watch this weekend.

Friday 8th September

1. Pool A: France vs New Zealand (20:15 KO – Stade de France, Paris)

The hotly anticipated Rugby World Cup opener between France and New Zealand will ignite the competition, with fireworks expected for this seismic Parisian clash. The perfect way to start the Rugby World Cup, with two of the favourites to win the whole competition battling it out in the opening match.

The All Blacks enter the tournament searching for a record setting fourth Rugby World Cup title. The squad is star-studded with previous winners, with the legends of 2011 and 2015 set for one last ride in this trip to France. Most notably of the group is second row Sam Whitelock, who is the most capped All Black, and could become the first ever player to win three Rugby World Cup titles if New Zealand lift the Web Ellis trophy.

Starring down the haka will be France, with Les Bleus wanting nothing more than to win their first ever Rugby World Cup on home soil. This would be the dream result in Fabien Galthie’s perfect world, however, some notable injuries have presented an all-too clear reminder of the trials and tribulations that lay ahead in the coming weeks. France will be without their first choice fly half Romain Ntamack, as the Toulouse star suffered an ACL injury against Scotland during the Summer Nations Series.

France have taken further injury blows for the opening contest against the All Blacks, with powerhouse centre Jonathan Danty, loosehead prop Cyrill Baille and lock Paul Willemse all occupying the injury list. Due to the litany of Les Bleus injuries, fortune favours the All Blacks to bounce back from their record defeat against the Springboks.

RUCK’s Prediction: France 17 – 28 New Zealand

Saturday 9th September

2. Pool B: Ireland vs Romania (14:30 KO – Stade de Boardeaux, Boardeaux)

With the dust settled on the opening contest, Italy take on Namibia to wrap up Pool A’s match day one action, before Ireland’s quest for a first ever Rugby World Cup title gets underway. A win seems all but guaranteed in what looks like a seemingly straightforward match against Romania, however Ireland fans know all too well the dangers that comes with complacency at the Rugby World Cup. The memories of the 2019 pool stage defeat to Japan are slowly being erased, yet are not entirely forgotten four years later.

Andy Farrell’s men are in fine form heading into the competition, and are rightly amongst the front-running favourites to win the competition. An impressive Grand Slam in the 2023 Six Nations was the nation’s first since 2018, with Ireland ruling the rugby landscape atop their roost as the number one ranked side. Ireland’s long-serving captain Johnny Sexton will return for their opening match in Boardeaux, as he has served his ban after verbally abusing a match official at the 2023 Champions Cup Final.

Despite being underdogs, Romania are in no way pushovers. The hard-hitting Eastern Europeans have been to the bright lights of the Rugby World Cup before, and have experienced the taste of victory in previous pool stage matches (vs Portugal, 2007 Rugby World Cup). Head Coach Eugen Apjok has pieced together a bruising side, with the likes of Tongan born centres Tangimana Fonovai and Tevita Manumua.

Despite the expected best efforts of Romania, even a weakened Ireland side will present too great of a gulf in class. Andy Farrell’s men should be off to the races with a resounding victory, and put their best foot forward ahead of the more competitive Pool B clashes with South Africa and Scotland.

RUCK’s Prediction: Ireland 54 – 10 Romania