As we are near to Rugby World Cup 2023, we have put our head on the chunk to bring you seven bold forecasts that could happen in the upcoming 12 months. The clue is in the title, so to say, as though these calls are not tacked on, they could well become realism by the time the year is out.
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Italy Rugby team to beat England Rugby side for the first time ever
A big one to start with, seeing the Red Rose will be at home, then if Steve Borthwick’s stint at Leicester Tigers is whatever to go by, the England Rugby side may take time to get all the pieces in order. There wasn’t an immediate perfection when the 43-year-old took over at Leicester in 2020 but a slow building procedure that caused a stunning 2021/22 crusade.
It is so a lot to ask for Borthwick to directly right the side’s wrongs and make them Six Nations challengers in 2022. The packet is their real area of concern, somewhat of the new head coach is well aware of, and it surely gives Italy a sniff of causation a spectacular upset at Twickenham. The Azzurri look like a better boring unit in attractive much every department, so if they can hold their own up front and take benefit of an English forward eight that is going finish a few changes, they have the backs to cause the hosts important problems.
In what will be just Borthwick’s second game in care, Kieran Crowley’s men will surely sense a chance to create a bit of history. They continue to recover, while England Rugby Side is rather in the doldrums after an abysmal 2022, so there could be some Azzurri pleasure in the middle of February.
Scott Robertson to become Wallabies head coach
With England Rugby rather pulling the induction early by, in our view, astonishingly sacking Eddie Jones and Wales replacement Wayne Pivac with Warren Gatland, that is possibly two choices gone for Robertson after the Rugby World Cup. The Crusaders head coach has continuously set his sights on the New Zealand job but it has got to a point for him where he is surely looking at substitutes. He has specified that the England Rugby side is an attractive proposition for him but, as stated, that looks highly improbable now that Borthwick has been hired.
In August, it looked nearly sure that Robertson would be the All-Blacks boss heading into France Rugby world cup 2023, but the issue for him now is that the present team under Ian Foster actually looks quite good. With coaches Jason Ryan and Joe Schmidt making a huge influence, they are starting to build nicely and by the time of the global contest, New Zealand will be a huge threat.
That means Foster could well visit in his role, leaving in our minds just one truthful position for him to fill and that is the Wallabies. Not that it is totally Dave Rennie’s fault, but we would be astonished should he continue after the tournament in France and Robertson would delight in the chance to lead Australia at their home Rugby World Cup.
Warren Gatland to fail and depart Wales after France World Cup 2023
We have specified before that Wales’ only hope of achievement in France was to rehire Gatland and we stand by that, nonetheless, we also think that Welsh rugby is an outside repair at the moment, even for a coach as gifted as him. The detail is that we’re not sure anyone can take this place and make a victory of it due to the clutter the Welsh game finds itself in. The New Zealander did unusually well in his first spell, despite coming up against important challenges, but there comes a point where you finally pay the price for incapability to get the overall structure right.
As an organization, the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) have reliably got it wrong over the past decade and it is finally preliminary to affect the national side, particularly when it comes to its talent base. The front five is not nearly as robust as it used to be, a key facet of any fruitful outfit, while they continue to lack depth in other positions. Good coaching can recover players but you still need the talent to win and Gatland has a massive task on his hands to get this side on the right track. The Six Nations will be challenging, which will directly put him on the back foot going into the Rugby World Cup, and as a result, it will be a tough tournament World Cup for him and the players.
Wales Rugby Side could sneak into the quarter-finals, particularly if, as we have foretold below, Portugal’s rugby side beat Fiji, but they will be doing well to get past the quarter-finals. The selection of Gatland has been done to deliver instant results, nonetheless, his return is also seen as a long-term project by the WRU. Would a poor Six Nations and last-eight arrival at the worldwide tournament be sufficient for him to stay? Or will the man himself take one look at what Welsh rugby has become and think, even this is beyond my abilities?
English side to win the Champions Cup
Two years ago, this wouldn’t have been such a bold right but, given their clubs’ financial issues and subsequent fights in Europe, it would be a surprise to see an English team lift the Champions Cup. The teams have been wedged by the reduction in salary cap, which has challenged their aptitude to compete on two fronts. It means that no outfit has made it past the quarter-final stage over the past couple of seasons, with Sale Sharks the best execution side.
Sale once again looks a sensible prospect, contempt their heavy defeat to Toulouse, nonetheless it is the return of Saracens which delivers a boost to their forecasts. With Sarries back at the top table and Exeter Chiefs and Leicester Tigers also showing potential, they have teams that could sincerely reach the latter stages of the competition. Squad depth is a potential hesitant block later in the season when it comes to challenging Leinster and the French clubs, but if the likes of Saracens, Sale, Exeter, Leicester and potentially Harlequins can manage their players well then, the Premiership sides will be a force in the knockout phases.
Bath to finish in the top four of the Premiership
Bath has taken a petite while to settle under the new director of rugby Johann van Graan. Still, after a slow start, the club has appeared to gather impetus with wins against Northampton Saints, Newcastle Falcons and defensive champions Leicester Tigers in the Premiership. Their team has also benefited from the downfall of Wasps and Worcester Warriors, with Ollie Lawrence a notable operator for his new club.
It surely looks as if there is something much more talented building, and the Rec outfit will feel an extra boost having established the signing of Scotland maverick Finn Russell. The Scot will only join the club after the Rugby World Cup, but the statement signing is an indication of how the team is trending and underlines a thrilling future ahead.
They may be bottom at the instant but imagine Bath to kick on, and if they string more wins together, then there is a real possibility the team could shoot up the standings. There are just nine points unravelling fourth from 11th and their presentation away at Exeter Chiefs showed that Van Graan’s men are not far away.
Portugal to beat Fiji at the Rugby World Cup
Portugal will clearly go into the France Rugby World Cup 2023 under the radar then they will be a test for the other teams in Pool C, having remarkably capable for the global tournament following an affected 16-16 draw against the USA. Their potential spreads further as the side ran both Italy and Georgia close with a 38-31 loss and a 25-25 draw individually, underscoring their true weapons.
Samuel Marques, the veteran scrum-half, is a key player and boasts knowledge from French club rugby with Pau, Toulouse and Carcassonne. The expert and his men meet a Fijian side who played very well during the Autumn Nations Series but nonetheless did not quite put together a complete performance.
The Portuguese will be looking to board the clash against Vern Cotter’s men as a game they could win and create history with their first triumph at a Rugby World Cup. In 2019, the Pacific Islanders were shocked by Uruguay and it wouldn’t be a surprise should they suffer another wonder defeat. That loss may help them there was a certain arrogance to their display three years ago but equally, it may haunt Cotter’s suit should Portugal advance the upper hand early on.
South African franchises to all qualify for the URC play-offs
The Bulls and Stormers have both had brilliant starts to the 2022/23 URC season. The sides sit in the top four, with the latter in second place following their impressive victory over the men from Pretoria last Friday. The pair have obviously found a strong footing in the rivalry. Any betting man would have their money on the sides kicking on and qualifying for home play-offs, chiefly after the return of their Springbok commissions.
Temporarily, the Sharks look to have twisted the corner thanks to director of rugby, Neil Powell, who has taken over coaching duties from Sean Everitt. The Durban side’s team is so powerful that the side will unavoidably go on a run. With Springboks ubiquitously, it would be a massive shock if Powell’s men do not make the end-of-season shake-up. Lastly, the Lions have been a real surprise package this season, playing with passion and promise. Some great aptitude is coming through the ranks and it feels somewhat special is cooking in Johannesburg. Count on the men from Ellis Park to sit in the top eight at the end of the unvarying campaign.
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