Rugby World Cup 2023 team guides: Pool B – Ireland, South Africa, Scotland, Tonga, Romania | Rugby Union News



Three of World Rugby’s current top five ranked nations meet in Pool B of the 2023 World Cup in Ireland, South Africa and Scotland

We look at everything you need to know from Rugby World Cup Pool B, as world No 1 ranked Ireland, three-time winners South Africa, Scotland, Tonga and Romania face each other…

Rugby World Cup 2023 Pool B fixtures

  • Saturday September 9: Ireland vs Romania (2.30pm, Bordeaux)
  • Sunday September 10: South Africa vs Scotland (4.45pm, Marseille)
  • Saturday September 16: Ireland vs Tonga (8pm, Nantes)
  • Sunday September 17: South Africa vs Romania (2pm, Bordeaux)
  • Saturday September 23: South Africa vs Ireland (8pm, Paris)
  • Sunday September 24: Scotland vs Tonga (4.45pm, Nice)
  • Saturday September 30: Scotland vs Romania (8pm, Lille)
  • Sunday October 1: South Africa vs Tonga (8pm, Marseille)
  • Saturday October 7: Ireland vs Scotland (8pm, Paris)
  • Sunday October 8: Tonga vs Romania (4.45pm, Lille)

Ireland’s Rugby World Cup record

1987: Quarter-finals

1991: Quarter-finals

1995: Quarter-finals

1999: Quarter-final playoffs

2003: Quarter-finals

2007: Pool Stages

2011: Quarter-finals

2015: Quarter-finals

2019: Quarter-finals

Key player

Johnny Sexton. A predictable answer perhaps, but though Ireland have the best squad and greatest depth they have ever had, they remain a different team when their leader and playmaker is not in the side.

Sexton, now 38, is retiring from rugby after the World Cup, but when fit, is still an outstanding player to run a Test match. Ireland’s captain was suspended for all three warm-up Tests, and so may well arrive to France undercooked, having not played since March due to a groin injury.

Johnny Sexton may be retiring after the World Cup at 38, but Ireland remain a different side with him in the team

Johnny Sexton may be retiring after the World Cup at 38, but Ireland remain a different side with him in the team

Head coach

Andy Farrell. Ireland head coach since 2020, having initially joined the set-up in 2016 as defence coach under Joe Schmidt, Farrell has done a magnificent job in charge of Ireland.

He has led them to a Triple Crown (2022), historic 2-1 series victory over the All Blacks in New Zealand (2022), Six Nations Grand Slam (2023), and a sustained world No 1 ranking in his four seasons to date. He has also overseen victories over South Africa, Australia, Argentina and Fiji.

Andy Farrell has transformed Ireland's style of play to an attacking, exciting brand, and taken them to No 1 in the world

Andy Farrell has transformed Ireland’s style of play to an attacking, exciting brand, and taken them to No 1 in the world

Ireland’s 2023 Rugby World Cup squad:

Forwards (18): Finlay Bealham, Tadhg Furlong, David Kilcoyne, Jeremy Loughman, Tom O’Toole, Andrew Porter, Rob Herring, Ronan Kelleher, Dan Sheehan, Ryan Baird, Tadhg Beirne, Iain Henderson, Joe McCarthy, James Ryan, Jack Conan, Caelan Doris, Peter O’Mahony, Josh van der Flier.

Backs (15): Craig Casey, Jamison Gibson-Park, Conor Murray, Ross Byrne, Jack Crowley, Johnny Sexton, Bundee Aki, Robbie Henshaw, Stuart McCloskey, Garry Ringrose, Keith Earls, Mack Hansen, Hugo Keenan, James Lowe, Jimmy O’Brien.

South Africa’s Rugby World Cup record

1987: Banned due to Apartheid

1991: Banned due to Apartheid

1995: Champions

1999: Third place

2003: Quarter-finals

2007: Champions

2011: Quarter-finals

2015: Third place

2019: Champions

Key player

Eben Etzebeth. This was going to be Handre Pollard, who kicked South Africa to 2019 World Cup glory, until SA announced a 33-player World Cup squad without their star 10, due to a troublesome calf injury, though there is much speculation he will be parachuted back in.

As such, we have gone for Eben Etzebeth, who has captained the Boks in the absence of Siya Kolisi (knee injury), and is critical to the blood source of Springbok attack: scrum, lineout and maul.

Eben Etzebeth is a crucial part of South Africa's set-piece, tight-orientated game

Eben Etzebeth is a crucial part of South Africa’s set-piece, tight-orientated game

Head coach

Jacques Nienaber. South Africa head coach since 2020, Nienaber – who was assistant coach of the Springboks first between 2018-2019 under Rassie Erasmus, the latter of whom remains as SA director of rugby currently – will depart his role after the World Cup, having announced a surprise move to join Irish province Leinster under Leo Cullen.

Nienaber has a win percentage of 62.96 in charge of the Boks, and has yet to beat France or Ireland in charge, while losing three of five vs Australia. He was in charge – with Erasmus very much involved, and later banned – for the controversial and dour 2-1 series win vs the British and Irish Lions in 2021 behind closed doors.

Jacques Nienaber leaves his post as South Africa head coach after the World Cup, having worked under the controversial figure of Rassie Erasmus

Jacques Nienaber leaves his post as South Africa head coach after the World Cup, having worked under the controversial figure of Rassie Erasmus

South Africa’s 2023 Rugby World Cup squad:

Forwards (19): Steven Kitshoff, Vincent Koch, Frans Malherbe, Ox Nche, Trevor Nyakane, Bongi Mbonambi, Malcolm Marx, Eben Etzebeth, Jean Kleyn, Marvin Orie, RG Snyman, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Siya Kolisi (c), Kwagga Smith, Marco van Staden, Duane Vermeulen, Jasper Wiese, Deon Fourie, Franco Mostert.

Backs (14): Faf de Klerk, Jaden Hendrikse, Cobus Reinach, Grant Williams, Manie Libbok, Damian Willemse, Damian de Allende, Andre Esterhuizen, Jesse Kriel, Kurt-Lee Arendse, Cheslin Kolbe, Willie le Roux, Makazole Mapimpi, Canan Moodie.

Scotland’s Rugby World Cup record

1987: Quarter-finals

1991: Fourth place

1995: Quarter-finals

1999: Quarter-finals

2003: Quarter-finals

2007: Quarter-finals

2011: Pool Stages

2015: Quarter-finals

2019: Pool Stages

Key player

Finn Russell. What a bizarre period Russell’s Test career has undergone under Gregor Townsend. The star man in the early years, 2020 saw Russell omitted from the squad for every Test Scotland played due to a fall out regarding alcohol. He then made the 2021 Lions tour to South Africa ahead of Johnny Sexton, with Townsend assistant coach, and returned to the Scotland fold, only to be dropped during the 2022 Six Nations for being part of a group of six players who defied protocol to go out in Edinburgh.

He was left out of the 2022 tour to Argentina, and out of the extended training squad for the autumn of 2022, only to then be recalled and thrown in to start vs the All Blacks. To cap his latest return off, he was named Scotland skipper vs France earlier this summer. A mercurial, outstanding talent, who Scotland need to fire in this tough pool.

Playmaker Finn Russell has undergone a bizarre period under Gregor Townsend with Scotland

Playmaker Finn Russell has undergone a bizarre period under Gregor Townsend with Scotland

Head coach

Gregor Townsend. The former Scotland fly-half became head coach in 2017, and signed a new three-year contract in May 2023 which will see him remain in the post until 2026.

He has a 56 per cent win rate in charge, and though he has often built Scotland sides seemingly capable of challenging for honours – beyond the one-off Calcutta Cup vs England – they have consistently fallen short at Six Nations level, never finishing higher than third (twice), fourth three times and fifth once. They also suffered a very disappointing pool-stage exit at the 2019 World Cup, as hosts Japan and Ireland progressed.

Townsend has been head coach of Scotland since 2017, and recently signed a new contract to 2026

Townsend has been head coach of Scotland since 2017, and recently signed a new contract to 2026

Scotland’s 2023 Rugby World Cup squad:

Forwards (19): Jamie Bhatti, Zander Fagerson, WP Nel, Pierre Schoeman, Javan Sebastian, Rory Sutherland, Ewan Ashman, Dave Cherry, George Turner, Scott Cummings, Grant Gilchrist, Richie Gray, Sam Skinner, Luke Crosbie, Rory Darge, Jack Dempsey, Matt Fagerson, Jamie Ritchie, Hamish Watson.

Backs (14): George Horne, Ali Price, Ben White, Ben Healy, Finn Russell, Chris Harris, Huw Jones, Cameron Redpath, Sione Tuipulotu, Darcy Graham, Blair Kinghorn, Ollie Smith, Kyle Steyn, Duhan van der Merwe.

Tonga’s Rugby World Cup record

1987: Pool Stages

1991: Did not qualify

1995: Pool Stages

1999: Pool Stages

2003: Pool Stages

2007: Pool Stages

2011: Pool Stages

2015: Pool Stages

2019: Pool Stages

Key player

Vaea Fifita/Charles Piutau. We have split Tonga’s key player into two, an outstanding forward and an outstanding back, and both former Test All Blacks. World Rugby’s new eligibility laws, which mean players who do not represent a nation for a three-year period can return to play for the country of their birth or that of a parent/grandparent, has seen a number of talented players from the pacific islands return to squads.

Full-back Piutau earned 17 caps for the All Blacks before departing to Europe in 2015, and is one of the most skilful game-breaking players in the game, while Fifita – who has 11 All Backs caps – is a freakishly skilled forward, capable of turning a game himself.

Former All Blacks full-back/wing Charles Piutau will play with Tonga under World Cup's new eligibility laws

Former All Blacks full-back/wing Charles Piutau will play with Tonga under World Cup’s new eligibility laws

Head coach

Toutai Kefu. The Tongan-born 60-cap former Australia No 8 has been head coach since 2016, and heads into this World Cup with a squad the like of which he has never had before.

In addition to Fifita and Piutau, a number of other players formerly capped by other nations have joined the fold: Second rows Adam Coleman (Australia) and Lopeti Timani (Australia), centres Malakai Fekitoa (All Blacks), George Moala (All Blacks), Pita Ahki (New Zealand Sevens), back-three Israel Folau (Australia) and scrum-half Augustine Pulu (All Blacks). Many are tipping a performance to be in the mix for a quarter-final spot.

Former Wallabies No 8 Toutai Kefu has been head coach of Tonga since 2016

Former Wallabies No 8 Toutai Kefu has been head coach of Tonga since 2016

Tonga’s 2023 Rugby World Cup squad:

Forwards (19): Siegfried Fisi’ihoi, Feao Fotuaika, Tau Koloamatangi, Paula Ngauamo, Siua Maile, Samiuela Moli, Ben Tameifuna, Paula Latu, Sosefo ‘Apikotoa, Adam Coleman, Leva Fifita, Samiuela Lousi, Sitiveni Mafi, Vaea Fifita, Tanginoa Halaifonua, Semisi Paea, Solomone Funaki, Sione Vailanu, Sione Havili Talitui.

Backs (14): Sonatane Takulua, Augustine Pulu, Manu Paea, William Havili, Otumaka Mausia, Pia Ahki, Malakai Fekitoa, George Moala, Afusipa Taumoefolau, Fine Inisi, Solomone Kata, Salesi Piutau, Kyren Taumoefolau, Anzelo Tuitavuki.

Romania’s Rugby World Cup record

1987: Pool Stages

1991: Pool Stages

1995: Pool Stages

1999: Pool Stages

2003: Pool Stages

2007: Pool Stages

2011: Pool Stages

2015: Pool Stages

2019: Disqualified

Key player

Atila Septar. The winger is one of a handful of players in the squad to play outside of Romania, and the only player to play in a top-tier league. The 27-year-old currently plays for Toulon in France’s Top 14, having previously displayed his try-scoring ability at Pau. At 6’4″ Septar is a physically imposing, powerful wing, and sometimes lines out at centre.

Romania wing Atila Septar has shown his quality in France's Top 14 with Pau and Toulon

Romania wing Atila Septar has shown his quality in France’s Top 14 with Pau and Toulon

Head coach

Eugen Apjok. A former Romania fly-half who earned three Test caps, Apjok has been head coach of the national side since 2022, having succeeded former England and Scotland coach Andy Robinson. He leads Romania into their first World Cup since 2015, following their 2019 disqualification for fielding an ineligible player, Sione Faka’osilea, in six qualifiers.

Romania’s 2023 Rugby World Cup squad:

Forwards (19): Alexandru Savin, Gheorghe Gajion, Thomas Crețu, Alexandru Gordaș, Costel Burțilă, Iulian Harțig, Ovidiu Cojocaru, Robert Irimescu, Florin Bărdașu, Adrian Motoc, Marius Iftimiciuc, Ștefan Iancu, Cristi Chirica, Mihai Macovei, Vlad Neculau, Dragoș Ser, Cristi Boboc, Florian Roșu, Damian Strătilă.

Backs (14): Gabriel Rupanu, Florin Surugiu, Alin Conache, Gabriel Pop, Mihai Mureșan, Tudor Boldor, Nicolas Onuțu, Marius Simionescu, Tangimana Fonovai, Taylor Gontineac, Jason Tomane, Tevita Manumua, Hinckley Vaovasa, Paul Popoaia.





Source link

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top