Predictions and Preparations: Rugby World Cup

After months of build-up and anticipation, the 2023 Rugby World Cup is finally here. Taking place for the first time entirely in France, the tenth Rugby World Cup is set to host an exciting line up of 20 nations.

Expect to witness a thrilling blend of dominant titans, unexpected upsets, and an abundance of captivating rugby action. In that spirit, we tasked 14 CSM Rugby fans with their predictions for the winners, underdogs, breakout side, player to watch and what they’re most looking forward to during the tournament.

Samson Wambui, Research Coordinator

Winners – New Zealand are in excellent form and will be the team to beat.

Underdogs – England go into the tournament as underdogs which I think might work to their advantage.

Breakout side – Samoa have shown good signs of improvement and will likely cause some upsets.

Player to watch – EPCR’s Player of the Year, Gregory Alldritt will get the home fans roaring throughout the tournament.

Most looking forward to – the opening game, it’s a clash worthy of a final.

Tessanna Macleod, Senior Creative Project Manager

Winners – South Africa always seem to peak at the right time, as displayed in their performance against the All Blacks in the warm up.

Underdogs – Argentina (decent team on the arguably easier side of the draw).

Breakout side – Fiji after their win over England!

Player to watch – Capuozzo, small but mighty and creates opportunities if Italy can run with them.

Most looking forward to – First game of the World Cup, France v New Zealand is a big battle to kick it off!

Edward Stobart, Operations Manager

Winners –  “Les Bleus’’ to get the job done at home!

Underdogs – Australia hopefully show up from nowhere and find some long-lost form.

Breakout side – Fiji will be full of confidence after their huge win at Twickenham last month, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they cause some upsets.

Player to watch – Antoine Dupont is a star and at 26, in his absolute prime.

Most looking forward to – Eddie Jones press conference’s.

Martini Ip, Associate Director

Winners – All Black’s all the way!

Underdogs – France with the home crowd support, as much as I don’t want them to win…

Breakout side – Fiji! They beat England for the first time look forward seeing more of those!

Most looking forward to – Watching the Barrett(s) playing together.

Adrian Krige, Senior Account Executive

Winners – South Africa (not biased!).

Underdogs – England & Australia (who would’ve thought two former powerhouses would go in as underdogs).

Breakout Sides – Samoa, Fiji, and Tonga (eligibility laws, exposure to Super Rugby, and strong recent results position the Pacific Island nations nicely to spring a surprise or two during the World Cup).

Player to watch – Antoine du Pont. The best there is at the moment.

Most looking forward to – Siya lifting the Trophy again. Kidding, two months of glorious rugby and passionate fans celebrating the game.

Natalie MacLean, Senior Project Manager

Winners – South Africa or France dependent on the semi-finals score.

Underdogs – New Zealand (need we mention the score against South Africa?).

Breakout side – Argentina will likely cause some upsets.

Player to watch – Canan Moodie, phenomenal a 20 year old player.  Think Habana, only bigger!

Most looking forward to – South Africa v Ireland, and hoping Faf cuts his hair!

Niall McCague, Senior Communications Manager

Winners: France – it’s hard to see past this classy Les Bleus side on home soil. Dupont will be player of the tournament.

Underdogs: England – for all the negativity in the media, Steve Borthwick’s side have the quality to make the semi-final.

Breakout side: Fiji – showed their class in recent weeks. Have the potential to reach a first quarter-final since 2007.

Player to watch: Caelan Doris – equally effective in attack and defence. A key cog in a teak-tough Irish pack.

Most looking forward to: Ireland v South Africa – should be a titanic battle. The winner is likely to avoid France in the quarter-finals.

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Nicola Beswick, Strategy Director

Winners – Being English it saddens me to say that we’re clearly not hot favourites, so I’d back France with my head and the All Blacks with my heart.

Underdogs – Weirdly, England are probably the underdogs for this year given recent form and current world ranking.

Breakout side – This is tough but I’d say Argentina, as they’re on a relatively decent side of the draw.

Player to watch – Antoine Dupont, possibly the obvious answer.

Most looking forward to – An All Blacks vs Springboks rematch.

Jason Wong, Account Executive

Winners – While my wallet wants to say South Africa (my sweepstakes team), and my heart hopes the All Blacks, I think France rides the Home advantage.

Underdogs – New Zealand, it’s a year where people are writing the All Blacks off, though I think heading into the RWC with the underdog label, this will only fire up New Zealand even more.

Breakout side – Fiji, they’ve always looked like they were built in a lab just to play rugby. One can only feel that they’re building lots of positive momentum into the group stage.

Player to watch – Japanese centre, Tomoki Osada. The young star has really come into his own for club and country.

Most looking forward to – Lots of good rugby and watching all I can, but I’ll have to figure out how I’m going to watch all 48 games.

Jack Badenhausen, Account Coordinator

Winners – South Africa, the only traditional powerhouse that doesn’t seem to have a chink in their armour and Siya Kolisi’s impact as a leader elevates any team to another level.

Underdogs – Argentina, a team that’s been continuously growing for the last 10 years and ready to cement their place as a major threat.

Breakout side – Fiji, everyone loves a Cinderella story.

Player to watch – Damian Willemse, I’ve always had a soft spot for Fullbacks, and the way South Africa can open up the game I wouldn’t be surprised if Willemse scores tries in bunches.

Most looking forward to – I’m looking forward to not having to watch the USA get trounced again…

Molly Watson, Senior Account Executive

Winners – France, the in-form team with home support to get the job done.

Underdogs – Fiji, recent wins against some top sides should have them going in full of confidence.

Breakout side – Italy

Player to watch – Ange Capuozzo

Most looking forward to – Hakka at opening match!

Derek Song, Senior Account Manager

Winners – All Blacks for the win, as I would like to see them lift the trophy again given a disappointing campaign in Japan. With a combined 1493 Test caps, this is the All Blacks’ most experienced RWC squad in history.

Underdogs – Australia, with a supposedly “easier” group and playoff fixtures, they could surprise everyone.

Breakout side – Rooting for Fiji to have a big campaign, with historic wins over England, Samoa and Tonga in the lead up, you just never know what flair and magic they’ll bring.

Player to watch – Will Jordan of the All Blacks, considering he stays fit and plays like he’s been doing over Super Rugby and on international levels.

Most looking forward to – Ange Capuozzo, recently fit again he’s one that will light up on the biggest stage and pose the biggest threat!

Billy Zander, Commercial Executive

Winners – South Africa: They are the side that have the highest ceiling in my opinion, just ask New Zealand!

Underdogs – Fiji: They have looked excellent in the warm-up games and could have a relatively favourable route to the semi-finals.

Breakout side – Samoa: Their close loss to Ireland in their final warm-up game showcased their credentials. Could give England and Argentina problems….

Player to watch – Damian Penaud: He has the physical attributes and technical ability to finish the tournament as the unquestioned no.1 winger in the world.

Most looking forward to: Seeing who advances out of Pool B. It is arguably the hardest ever pool in Rugby World Cup history, and all 3 sides can be world-class on their day.

Jesse Kehoe, Account Director

Winners – France, I think these guys will be tough to beat in their own backyard.

Underdogs – Australia, they do not have a whole lot to lose. Having lost all of their tests in 2023, and with Eddie Jones back at the helm, their easier side of the draw should see them make the semi-finals as a minimum.

Breakout side – Fiji, fresh off a famous win at Twickenham, the flying Fijians have shown they are not the walkover they may have been in recent years.

Player to watch – Angus Bell, after his 2022 was impacted by injury, he has caught the eye with some outstanding performances this year.

Most looking forward to – France v NZ – what a game to kick off the tournament – Stade de France, crowd will be pumping, city will be bustling, it is going to be epic to watch.

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