World Rugby

Last Chance Saloon And Fast Starts - Five Talking Points For RWC Week Four

Last Chance Saloon And Fast Starts - Five Talking Points For RWC Week Four

Get ready for the excitement! Explore the top five captivating storylines unfolding in week four of the 2023 Rugby World Cup as the All Blacks return.

Sep 29, 2023
Last Chance Saloon And Fast Starts - Five Talking Points For RWC Week Four

With three weekends of World Cup action already in the bank, the pools are starting to take shape. In each of the four, there are clear favourites to qualify top and then a handful of contenders sitting beneath.

That means there’s still plenty to play for as round four kicks into gear over the coming days.

Here are five key storylines to follow this weekend.

Last Chance Saloon for Eddie Jones 

Over the past week, we’ve heard no cocky outbursts from Eddie Jones. That’s because his Wallabies side, after losing to both Wales and Fiji, stand on the brink of elimination from the World Cup.

What makes the position all the more embarrassing is it’s the first time ever the nation has faced the drop in the group stages.

It’s a horrific fall from grace for a nation with two world titles in the trophy cabinet. But now is not the time for reflection. It’s time for action, with Australia preparing to face Portugal on Saturday afternoon.

If they lose, they will be booted out, so there’s plenty of pressure on Jones. His job is on the line, especially after rumours started circulating late last week that the 63-year-old had interviewed with Japan right before the World Cup started.

To make matters worse, Portugal impressed during their thrilling draw with Georgia last weekend and will be no easy walkover for Australia.

Fiji Ready to Fly 

It’s been a long time coming, but it looks like Fiji are finally back to their best. Following years in the international wilderness, the Flying Fijians made history, securing their first win over Australia since 1954.

The 22-15 win over the Wallabies puts Fiji one step into the semi-finals. To solidify that position, they will have to beat Georgia on Saturday.

If they do so, picking up a try bonus point in the process, they will likely reach the quarter-finals for the first time since 2007. Large swathes of the rugby world will be hoping the men in black and white can achieve that goal, not least because their exhibitionist style of rugby is a dream to behold.

As an extra incentive, their opponents in the quarters will probably be England, whom they beat just over a month ago at Twickenham.

Can Argentina Fix Discipline Issues?

Little’s been said of Argentina since they succumbed to England in the opening round.

Despite the loss, the South Americans are still in with a strong chance of reaching the quarter-finals, where Wales awaits.

However, there are immediate problems which the team first needs to fix. In their scrappy 19-10 win over Samoa, Los Pumas conceded 11 penalties and looked in disarray at times.

Their opponents did concede two more penalties, as the overall flow of the game did little to showcase the real strength of Argentina.

Michael Cheika’s side will have the chance to quickly fix their discipline issues early on Saturday when they face South American rivals Chile in what is also a must-win game in the wider context of the group.

New Zealand Face Fiery Italians 

It feels strange to say, but there’s real jeopardy looming over New Zealand as they gear up to face Italy this evening.

That’s because, after losing to France, the All Blacks find themselves in the strange predicament where they are level on points with Uruguay after the South Americans picked up their first win of the tournament against Namibia on Wednesday.

Obviously, no-one expects things to remain that way, yet it acts as a timely reminder that the All Blacks are venturing into uncharted waters.

In every other World Cup, they’ve remained unbeaten in the group stages, meaning they’ve never encountered a must-win match of such magnitude where losing could see them exit the competition.

How that will impact the team is yet to be seen.

Scotland To Dust off the Cobwebs 

When Scotland are at their mesmeric, attacking best, they can be a match for any team in the world. With the squad they have now – arguably their best ever – and Finn Russell at the helm, Scotland have enough firepower to qualify from their group.

However, their group also includes South Africa, the reigning champions, and Ireland, the number-one-ranked team in the world.

After losing their first game to the Springboks, Scotland must win all their remaining fixtures. That shouldn’t be an immediate issue as they face Romania this weekend – both Ireland and South Africa ramped up big scores against the Romanians, and Scotland will fancy doing the same.

What Scotland needs to do, though, is get their attack humming. Even in their latest win over Tonga, the backline lacked clarity. That will need to be sorted quickly if Scotland are to have any chance of beating Ireland when they meet next weekend.