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Rugby World Cup Pool B preview: Three won't go into two in formidable group

With three of the top five ranked teams in the world, there is no doubt that Pool B is the most formidable group at the 2023 World Cup.

Containing reigning champions South Africa, 2023 Grand Slam winners Ireland and a threatening Scotland side, one big nation looks set to crash out before the quarter-final stage this year.

WhatPool B, 2023 Rugby World Cup
WhereVarious venues across France
WhenSaturday 9th September - Sunday 8th October, 2023
How to watchITV
Pool B OddsSouth Africa 4/5, Ireland 6/5, Scotland 10/1, Tonga 100/1, Romania 1500/1


Ireland have been building something special in recent years and now is the time for the Irish to deliver on the biggest stage.

A nation to have never reached the semi-final of a World Cup, the men in green are now considered one of the serious contenders to become only the second northern hemisphere nation to win the competition.

Before thinking about the latter stages of the competition, head coach Andy Farrell knows his side must first concentrate on getting through Pool B.

With South Africa and Scotland also battling it out for the top two places in the pool, Ireland will be determined to make sure they are not the ones to be leaving French shores early.

Ireland are available at 6/5 to finish top of Pool B, with South Africa at 4/5 and Scotland 10/1


Ranked down at 19th in the world rankings, Romania have a daunting task ahead of them in Pool B, with three of the world's top five ranked sides to compete with.

Romania have featured in 28 matches in their World Cup history and have managed to come out on top in six of them.

It’s a big ask again for the Romanians who face Six Nations champions Ireland in their opening game on 9th September.


After the disappointment of missing out on the quarter-finals in the last World Cup in Japan, Scotland have a big challenge ahead to reach the knockouts this time around.

Gregor Townsend’s side have shown significant signs of progress over recent years and finished behind only France and Ireland in third place in the last Six Nations campaign.

Townsend will be hoping his side can catch South Africa knapping in their opening game of the tournament when the two sides meet in Marseille on 10th September.

Scotland are 7/2 to win and 1/5 to lose against the Boks at Stade Velodrome.

South Africa

A 35-7 win over New Zealand in their final World Cup warm-up game at Twickenham sent shockwaves across the rugby world that South Africa will be a force to be reckoned with in this competition.

Blessed with strength in depth across the paddock, the Springboks know exactly what it takes to win the tournament, having lifted the Webb Ellis Cup in Japan four years ago.

The Boks will take some stopping in Pool B and are understandably the favourites to top the group.


Another side with a daunting challenge ahead of them, Tonga head to France with little in the way of expectation.

A nation yet to get past the pool stages of a World Cup, Tonga have won eight of their 29 matches in the competition to date.

Tonga will be quite happy and used to going under the radar, as they did going into the 2019 World Cup when they almost caused the shock of the tournament against France.

Les Bleus managed to come out on top that day in Kumamoto, but only after being pushed to a 23-21 scoreline against a Tonga side that perhaps deserved to have won.

Tonga should be confident of beating Romania, but face an uphill battle to pick up a potential second win in a fearsome Pool B.

Pool B Fixtures

9th September 2023IrelandRomaniaNouveau Stade de Bordeaux, Bordeaux
10th September 2023South AfricaScotlandStade Velodrome, Marseille
16th September 2023IrelandTongaStade de la Beaujoire, Nantes
17th September 2023South AfricaRomaniaNouveau Stade de Bordeaux, Bordeaux
23rd September 2023South AfricaIrelandStade de France, Saint-Denis
24th September 2023ScotlandTongaAllianz Riviera, Nice
30th September 2023ScotlandRomaniaStade Pierre-Mauroy, Lille
1st October 2023South AfricaTongaStade Velodrome, Marseille
7th October 2023IrelandScotlandStade de France, Saint-Denis
8th October 2023TongaRomaniaStade Pierre-Mauroy, Lille

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