Rugby World Cup 2023 Week 3 preview, lineups, predictions

Ford 'proud' of England performance vs. Japan (0:30)

England fly-half George Ford speaks after his side's 34-12 win over Japan at the Rugby World Cup. (0:30)

Two weeks of Rugby World Cup 2023 down, five more to go!

Halfway through the pool stage and there's still plenty that could happen to determine who reaches the quarterfinal stage, with the Wallabies fighting for their tournament survival in a massive clash against Wales, while Ireland and South Africa meet in arguably the biggest game of the World Cup to date.

Read ahead for team lists and previews.

- RUGBY WORLD CUP 2023: Squads | Schedule | Standings | Podcast | Injuries

Jump ahead to a particular game.

Italy vs. Uruguay

France vs. Namibia

Argentina vs. Samoa

Georgia vs. Portugal

England vs. Chile

South Africa vs. Ireland

Scotland vs. Tonga

Wales vs. Australia

Wednesday, September 20

Italy vs. Uruguay, Stade de Nice, Nice (5:45p.m. local / 1:45a.m. AEST / 4:45p.m. GMT)

Italy: Ange Capuozzo, Lorenzo Pani, Juan Ignacio Brex, Paolo Garbisi, Montanna Ioane, Tommaso Allan, Alessandro Garbisi; Lorenzo Cannone, Michele Lamaro (captain), Sebastian Negri, Federico Ruzza, Niccolo Cannone, Marco Riccioni, Giacomo Nicotera, Danilo Fischetti.

Replacements: Luca Bigi, Federico Zani, Pietro Ceccarelli, Dino Lamb, Manuel Zuliani, Giovanni Pettinelli, Alessandro Fusco, Paolo Odogwu.

Uruguay: Baltazar Amaya, Gaston Mieres, Tomas Inciarte, Andres Vilaseca, Nicolas Freitas, Felipe Etcheverry, Sanitago Arata; Manuel Diana, Santiago Civetta, Manuel Ardao, Manuel Leindekar, Felipe Aliaga, Ignacio Peculo, German Kessler, Mateo Sanguinetti.

Replacements: Guillermo Pujadas, Faccundo Gattas, Diego Arbelo, Ignacio Dotti, Carlos Deus, Agustin Ormaechea, Felipe Berchesi, Bautista Basso.

Verdict: Given how well Uruguay performed first up against France, this suddenly looks like a bit of a banana-skin game for the Italians, who had week two of the tournament off. The South Americans were brilliant In Lille against Les Bleus, bringing a high-tempo attacking game that was able to open up the French defence and resulted in two tries and nearly a third.

And Italy can't afford to look too far ahead, despite knowing that their two greatest tasks of the pool, against New Zealand and then France, are still to come. Coach Kieran Crowley has moved Ange Cappuozo to fullback while Tommaso Allen returns as the run-on fly-half, while Italy will incredibly field two sets of brother in their starting XV with Paolo Garbisi and Alessandro Garbisi, and Lorenzo Cannone and Niccolo Cannone, all taking to the field together in what will a proud day for both families.

If Uruguay bring the same attacking endeavour they demonstrated in Lille, then Italy could be under some real pressure here. But the Azzurri have plenty of their own guile and deception these days too, headlined by Cappuozo, and should be able to assert some pressure on Uruguay's set-piece as well.

Tip: Italy by 10

Thursday, September 21

France vs. Namibia, Stade de Marseille, Marseille (9p.m. local / 5a.m. AEST / 8p.m. GMT)

France: Thomas Ramos, Damian Penaud, Gael Fickou, Jonathan Danty, Louis Bielle-Biarry, Matthieu Jalibert, Antoine Dupont; Anthony Jelonch, Charles Ollivon, Francois Cros, Thibaud Flament, Cameron Woki, Uini Atonio, Peato Mauvaka, Cyril Baille.

Replacements: Pierre Bourgarit, Reda Wardi, Dorian Aldegheri, Romain Taofifenua, Paul Boudehent, Baptiste Couilloud, Yoram Moefana, Melvyn Jaminet.

Namibia: Andre van den Berg, Gerswin Mouton, Johan Deysel (capt.), Danco Burger, JC Greyling, Cliven Loubser, Jacques Theron; Prince Gaoseb, Johan Retief, Max Katjijeko, Adriaan Ludick, Mahepisa Tjeriko, Aranos Coetzee, Louis van der Westhuizen, Desiderius Sethie.

Replacements: Obert Nortje, Jason Benade, Haitembu Shikufa, Pieter-Jan van Lil, Richard Hardwick, Oela Blaauw, Alcino Izaacs, Divan Rossouw.

Verdict: This looks like being a long old night for Namibia. Hammered by the All Blacks in Toulouse last week, the Africans have to front up and face the tournament hosts now, who have rolled out a run-on team that is very close to their first-choice XV.

Whether it was the scare from Uruguay last Thursday, or more likely the need to get their frontline stars another hit-out before a two-week lead-in to their final pool game, against Italy, Namibia are the unlucky beneficiaries of France's move.

It is indeed a key stepping stone for Les Bleus who will likely need to defeat Italy to wrap up top spot and book a date with the second-placed Pool B finisher, who we should have more idea about late on Saturday night.

In the meantime, France will run riot in this game and while the All Blacks didn't quite worry the ton last Friday, Les Bleus could really run up an unflattering score on the hapless Namibians.

Tip: France by 85

Argentina vs. Samoa, Stade Geoffroy-Guichard, Saint-Etienne (5:45p.m. local / 1:45a.m. AEST / 4:45a.m. GMT)

Argentina: Juan Cruz Mallia, Emiliano Boffelli, Matias Moroni, Santiago Chocobares, Mateo Carreras, Santiago Carreras, Gonzalo Bertranou; Juan Martin Gonzalez, Marcos Kremer, Pablo Matera, Matias Alemanno, Guido Petti, Eduardo Bello, Julian Montoya (captain), Thomas Gallo.

Replacements: Lucio Cinti, Nicolas Sanchez, Tomas Cubelli, Rodrigo Bruni, Pedro Rubiolo, Francisco Gomez Kodela, Mayco Vivas, Augustin Creevy.

Samoa: Duncan Paia'aua, Ben Lam, Ulupano Junior Seuteni, Tumua Manu, Nigel Ah-Wong, Christian Leali'ifano, Jonathan Taumateine; Steven Luatua, Fritz Lee, Theo McFarland, Brian Alainu'uese, Chris Vui (co-captain), Paul Alo-Emile, Seilala Lam, James Lay.

Replacements: Danny Toala, Alai D'Angelo Leuila, Melani Matavao, Sa Jordan Taufua, Taleni Seu, Michael Alaalatoa (co-captain), Charlie Faumuina, Sama Malolo.

Verdict: The Pumas are back in action after a disappointing first-up loss to England, and then a week off, in what looks like a danger game against Samoa, who swept aside Chile last weekend. And Argentina coach Michael Cheika knows it, having rolled out a full-strength side for this clash in Saint-Etienne.

The key for both sides in this one will be discipline, given their is very little between the two teams on paper; while the Pumas have a sharp-shooter in Emiliano Boffelli, and Samoa's former Wallabies playmaker Christian Leali'ifano is no slouch either.

It looks like a clash of cohesion and set-piece surety of Argentina, against the raw power and try-scoring threats of Samoa. If the Pumas can survive an early Samoan onslaught, they may well have too much class for their opponents, who will only get better through the tournament as they spend more time together. But there is the definite chance of an upset and a thrilling encounter at the Stade Geoffrey-Guichard awaits.

Tip: Argentina by 5

Saturday, September 23

Georgia vs. Portugal, Stade de Toulouse, Toulouse (2p.m. local / 10p.m. AEST / 1p.m. GMT)

Georgia: Davit Niniashvili, Akaki Tabutsadze, Giorgi Kveseladze, Merab Sharikadze (c), Alexander Todua, Tedo Abzhandadze, Gela Aprasidze; Mikheil Nariashvili, Shalva Mamukashvili, Beka Gigashvili, Vladimer Chachanidze, Konstantine Mikautadze, Tornike Jalagonia, Beka Saginadze, Beka Gorgadze.

Replacements: Tengizi Zamtaradze, Guram Gogichashvili, Guram Papidze, Nodar Cheishvili, Giorgi Tsutskiridze, Vasil Lobzhanidze, Luka Matkava, Demur Tapladze.

Portugal: Nuno Sousa Guedes, Raffaele Storti, Pedro Bettencourt, Tomás Appleton (c), Rodrigo Marta, Jerónimo Portela, Samuel Marques; Francisco Fernandes, Mike Tadjer, Diogo Hasse Ferreira, José Madeira, Steevy Cerqueira, João Granate, Nicolas Martins, Rafael Simões.

Replacements: David Costa, Lionel Campergue, Anthony Alves, Martim Belo, David Wallis, Thibault de Freitas, Pedro Lucas, Manuel Cardoso Pinto.

Verdict: Georgia make eight changes from the side that lost 35-15 to Australia in their opener a fortnight ago with four changes in the forwards, and four in the backs.

Mikheil Nariashvili and Beka Gigashvili come into the front-row, Vladimer Chachanidze into the second-row, and Beka Saginadze at flanker. There's a new pairing at half-back with Aprasidze and Tedo Abzhandadze, while Alexander Todua starts on the wing, and Giorgi Kveseladze is at outside centre.

For Portugal, they're looking to build on their impressive performance against Wales where they stretched Warren Gatland's men, but eventually lost 28-8. They're without suspended wing Vincent Pinto as they make four changes - two to the forwards, two to the backs - for Saturday's match.

The two teams met in the 2023 Rugby Europe Championship final, a match Georgia won 38-11 and we're expecting it to be a tighter affair in Toulouse but for Georgia to come through. -- Tom Hamilton


England vs. Chile, Stade Pierre-Mauroy, Lille (5:45p.m. local / 1:45a.m. AEST / 4:45p.m. GMT)

England: Marcus Smith; Henry Arundell, Elliot Daly, Ollie Lawrence, Max Malins, Owen Farrell, Danny Care; Bevan Rodd, Theo Dan, Kyle Sinckler, David Ribbans, George Martin, Lewis Ludlam, Jack Willis, Billy Vunipola.

Replacements: Jack Walker, Joe Marler, Will Stuart, Ollie Chessum, Ben Earl, Ben Youngs, George Ford, Joe Marchant.

Chile: Francisco Urroz, Cristobal Game, Domingo Saavedra, Matias Garafulic, Franco Velarde, Rodrigo Fernandez, Benjamin Videla, Alfonso Escobar, Ignacio Silva, Martín Sigren (captain), Javier Eissmann, Clemente Saavedra, Matias Dittus, Augusto Bohme, Salvador Lues.

Replacements: Inaki Ayarza, Lukas Carvallo, Raimundo Martínez, Thomas Orchard, Pablo Huete, Inaki Gurruchaga, Vittorio Lastra, Tomas Dussaillant.

Verdict: England name a much-changed side but the mission remains the same: secure a bonus point win and keep their World Cup campaign building. The 12 changes see Owen Farrell returning from suspension to captain the side while Marcus Smith makes his first Test start at fullback having featured there off the bench for England under Steve Borthwick.

The team is packed with speed and trickery in the backline while Danny Care is back at scrum-half to keep the momentum moving. In the forwards, Borthwick has named his third different loose-head in this World Cup, and there are new-look combinations in the front-row, at lock and in the back-row.

For Chile, only six players remain from their opening round defeat to Samoa with only Matias Dittus, Clemente Saavedra, Rodrigo Fernandez, Matias Garafulic, Domingo Saavedra and captain Martín Sigren retaining their places. Borthwick's shuffled his options around, but nothing less than a bonus point win will do for England.

Tip: England by 40

South Africa vs. Ireland, Stade de France, Saint-Denis (9p.m. local / 5a.m. AEST/ 8p.m. GMT)

South Africa: Damian Willemse, Kurt-Lee Arendse, Jesse Kriel, Damian de Allende, Cheslin Kolbe, Manie Libbok, Faf de Klerk, Jasper Wiese, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Siya Kolisi, Franco Mostert, Eben Etzebeth, Frans Malherbe, Bongi Mbonambi, Steven Kitshoff.

Replacements: Deon Fourie, Ox Nche, Trevor Nyakane, Jean Kleyn, RG Snyman, Marco van Staden, Kwagga Smith, Cobus Reinach.

Ireland: Hugo Keenan, Mack Hansen, Garry Ringrose, Bundee Aki, James Lowe, Johnny Sexton (captain), Jamison Gibson-Park; Andrew Porter, Ronan Kelleher, Tadhg Furlong, Tadhg Beirne, James Ryan, Peter O'Mahony, Josh van der Flier, Caelan Doris.

Replacements: Dan Sheehan, Dave Kilcoyne, Finlay Bealham, Iain Henderson, Ryan Baird, Conor Murray, Jack Crowley, Robbie Henshaw.

Verdict: All the focus in the build-up reverberated around South Africa's decision to go with a 7-1 split. It seems just about everyone in rugby has been asked about it - whether it's against the spirit of the game or a genius move is subjective, but regardless of your point of view, it's happened and it's what the Boks are going with.

"For us it's a calculated risk," was Boks head coach Jacques Nienaber's take. Andy Farrell joked he could've gone for a 1-7 split on his bench but regardless of the sideshow, it promises to be a physical, fascinating match.

There's every chance this could end up being the World Cup final in a few weeks, but both teams will want to finish top of Pool B with an assured showing in Paris.

For Ireland, Peter O'Mahony will win his 100th Test cap while Bundee Aki is going to earn his 50th. The Boks have named the same XV as the one who played Scotland in their opener, while Deon Fourie covers hooker on the bench with Malcolm Marx out of the World Cup.

Tip: Ireland by 3

Sunday, September 24

Scotland vs. Tonga, Stade de Nice, Nice (5:45p.m. local / 1:45a.m. AEST / 4:45p.m. GMT)

Scotland: Blair Kinghorn, Kyle Steyn, Chris Harris, Sione Tuipulotu, Duhan van der Merwe, Finn Russell, Ben White; Rory Sutherland, Geroge Turner, Zander Fagerson, Richie Gray, Scott Cummings, Jamie Ritchie (captain), Rory Darge, Jack Dempsey.

Replacements: Ewan Ashman, Pierre Schoeman, WP Nel, Sam Skinner, Matt Fagerson, George Horne, Huw Jones, Darcy Graham.

Tonga: Salesi Piutau, Solomone Kata, Malakai Fekitoa, Pita Ahki, Afusipa Taumoepeau, William Havili, Augustine Pulu, Vaea Fifita, Sione Talitui, Tanginoa Halaifonua, Sam Lousi, Halaleva Fifita, Ben Tameifuna (c), Paula Ngauamo, Siegfried Fisi'ihoi.

Replacements: Sam Moli, Tau Koloamatangi, Sosefo Apikotoa, Adam Coleman, Semisi Paea, Sione Vailanu, Sonatane Takulua, Patrick Pellegrini

Verdict: Scotland's mission is clear. They simply have to beat Tonga to keep their World Cup dream alive. Gregor Townsend has made four changes from the side that lost to South Africa a fortnight ago with Rory Sutherland, Scott Cummings, Chris Harris and Kyle Steyn all starting.

Tonga go unchanged from their opening round defeat so the likes of Charles Piutau and Malakai Fekitoa are on show and they too desperately need to win to keep a foothold in the group which includes South Africa, Ireland and Romania.

Scotland are targeting the last 20 minutes of the match as a chance to win the Test which explains why Huw Jones, Darcy Graham and George Horne are lying in wait on the bench.

Tip: Scotland by 9.

Wales vs. Australia, OL Stadium, Lyon (9p.m. local / 5a.m. AEST / 8p.m. GMT)

Wales: Liam Williams, Louis Rees Zammit, George North, Nick Tompkins, Josh Adams, Dan Biggar, Gareth Davies, Gareth Thomas, Ryan Elias, Tomas Francis, Will Rowlands, Adam Beard, Aaron Wainwright, Jac Morgan, Taulupe Faletau.

Replacements: Elliot Dee, Corey Domachowski, Henry Thomas, Dafydd Jenkins, Taine Basham, Tomos Williams, Gareth Anscombe, Rio Dyer.

Australia: Andrew Kellaway, Mark Nawaqanitawase, Jordan Petaia, Samu Kerevi, Marika Koroibete, Ben Donaldson, Tate McDermott, Rob Valetini, Tom Hooper, Rob Leota, Richie Arnold, Nick Frost, James Slipper, David Porecki (captain), Angus Bell.

Replacements: Matt Faessler, Blake Schoupp, Pone Fa'amausili, Matt Philip, Fraser McReight, Nic White, Carter Gordon, Suliasi Vunivalu.

Verdict: For the third straight World Cup, Australia and Wales meet in the pool stage. But unlike Japan four years ago, this time the Wallabies are not fighting for top spot, rather their tournament survival after last week's loss to Fiji.

Wallabies coach Eddie Jones has made one key change for this Test, and that is replacing under-fire fly-half Carter Gordon with Ben Donaldson, who shifts from fullback into the 10 jersey and sees his role taken by Andrew Kellaway. Jones has also looked for greater physicality in his pack, with Rob Leota brought in to add more muscle and ball-carrying ability in the continued absence of Will Skelton and Taniela Tupou.

Wales coach Warren Gatland has meanwhile returned to his strongest line-up after freshening up his troops against Portugal last week. Wales had to work extremely hard for what may prove a vital bonus point in that match, but they will instead refer to the tried and tested Gatland method of territory and continually go to the air. Fly-half Dan Biggar will be huge figure in the game, particularly if Australia concedes anything close to the 18 penalties they gave away against Fiji.

But the presence of referee Wayne Barnes should suit the Wallabies a bit more than last week's whistle-blower Andrew Brace. If Australia can achieve a better platform up front, with far greater commitment at the breakdown, then they have the backline to cause Wales some problems. But they must also build scoreboard pressure and for that Donaldson, who kicked superbly first up against Georgia, will be critical.

Another nail-biting contest between these two teams awaits.

Tip: Australia by 5.