It was another intriguing weekend at the 2023 Rugby World Cup with Ireland and Wales securing memorable wins against South Africa and Australia respectively.
The wins for the Irish and Welsh have further raised the question on whether there is a power shift between the Northern and Southern Hemisphere nations.
Australia, South Africa and New Zealand have all suffered defeats in the pool stages now to Northern Hemisphere opposition.
The question of Northern and Southern Hemisphere dominance can wait for another day, as here we take a look at how each pool is shaping up so far at this thrilling 2023 World Cup on French soil.
|What||2023 Rugby World Cup|
|When||Friday 8th September - Saturday 28th October|
|How to watch||ITV|
|Odds||South Africa , Ireland 3/1, France 7/2, New Zealand 4/1, England 10/1|
Hosts France lead the way in Pool A but they certainly had a major scare last week due to the facial injury suffered by superstar scrum-half Antoine Dupont.
The Toulouse half-back suffered a fractured cheek in the 96-0 victory over Namibia and there were concerns his tournament was over.
Having had surgery, the signs are positive that Dupont will return at some stage of this competition, with the possibility of him wearing a protective face mask.
France, who are 7/2 to win the World Cup, are likely to rest Dupont for their final Pool A game against Italy on 6th October.
As for New Zealand, they return to action against Italy on 29th September, before a final pool game against Uruguay.
After an opening-game defeat to France, the All Blacks outright odds have drifted to 4/1 but the Kiwis should never be written off when the competition enters the all-important knockout phase.
It was the titanic tussle that everyone predicted and it was an arm wrestle that did not disappoint, as Ireland earned a memorable 13-8 win over South Africa.
This was never likely to be a high-scoring affair at the Stade de France but witnessing a clash between two title contenders was always going to be intriguing.
Ireland put down a marker against the Boks with their victory in Saint-Denis, which was achieved to the backdrop of an Irish crowd in fine voice.
The Irish top Pool B on 14 points and will return to the Stade de France for their final game against Scotland.
Ireland are available at 3/1 to go all the way and win this World Cup, with three-time champions South Africa also at .
Sunday saw Scotland do what they needed to do against Tonga with a 45-17 win in Nice.
Fly-half Finn Russell was somewhat critical that his side left points out there and undoubtedly they will need to improve significantly if they are to push Ireland in their final game.
Before then, the Scots head to Lille on Saturday to try and put significant points past Romania, while hoping to avoid any injuries before heading to Paris to face Ireland.
South Africa complete their pool fixtures with a trip to Marseille to face Tonga on Sunday.
Wales have become the first side to qualify for the knockout stages of the World Cup and Warren Gatland’s team certainly did it in some style with their 40-6 win over Australia in Lyon.
Wallabies head coach Eddie Jones was pretty bullish on his side’s chances leading into the game but Wales produced an outstanding performance and ran out comfortable winners.
The Welsh top the group ahead of their final game against Georgia on 7th October, while Australia will be hoping Fiji slip up in one of their last two games against the Georgians or Portugal.
It’s certainly not looking good for Australia, who are on the verge of a first-ever exit in the World Cup pool stage.
England continued their winning start to this World Cup with a 71-0 victory over Chile in Lille last week.
It was a confidence-boosting victory for Steve Borthwick’s side, especially after they laboured somewhat in their previous win against Japan.
Sterner tests will undoubtedly come for England but they look well on course to finish top of Pool D and are currently 10/1 to win the World Cup.
The battle to finish in second spot in Pool D looks to be intriguing, with Samoa, Japan and Argentina all battling it out.
Japan face Samoa in Toulouse this week in what will be a massive game for both nations, while Argentina should should win convincingly against Chile.
Nantes on 8th October hosts another key battle in the fight for second, with Japan and Argentina set to go head-to-head.