Steve Borthwick, the England head coach, insists he will stay loyal to his players and management team despite one of the darkest days in the nation’s rugby history.
A 30-22 defeat by Fiji was their first loss to the Islanders in eight meetings and the first time they have fallen to a tier-two team, with the result expected to plunge them to an all-time lowest position of ninth in the global rankings.
The dreadful build-up to the World Cup means England have won only three times in nine Tests under Borthwick and their critical Pool D opener against Argentina is looming.
Borthwick is refusing to panic, however, as he outlines his belief that England will come good. “I’m very confident with the all the people involved in the team – the players, the coaches, the management,” Borthwick said.
England do at least have a kind draw for the tournament. If they escape their group (also containing Japan, Argentina, Samoa and Chile) they could face Wales, Australia or Fiji in the quarter-final.
When is the Rugby World Cup?
The tournament begins on Friday, September 8 with France taking on New Zealand. The final will be played on Saturday, October 28.
South Africa were the winners of the last tournament – in Japan in 2019 – when they beat England in the final, and will be among the favourites again this year, particularly after hammering New Zealand at Twickenham in their final warm-up match.
A strong European challenge is expected, not least from France, who smashed Australia in a pre-tournament warm-up, and Six Nations Grand Slam winners Ireland, who have yet to put their best foot forward at a World Cup but thrashed England in a warm-up match.
Where is it?
The 2023 Rugby World Cup will be played in France across nine stadiums in nine cities. The final will be played at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis (Paris).
- Stade de France (capacity 80,698) – Saint-Denis (Paris)
- Stade de Marseille (67,394) – Marseille
- OL Stadium (59,186) – Lyon
- Stade Pierre-Mauroy (50,186) – Lille
- Stade de Bordeaux (42,115) – Bordeaux
- Stade Geoffroy-Guichard (41,965) – Saint-Étienne
- Stade de Nice (35,624) – Nice
- Stade de la Beaujoire (35,322) – Nantes
- Stade de Toulouse (33,150) – Toulouse
How do I watch the Rugby World Cup?
ITV have the exclusive broadcast rights in the UK. We will update you with specific channels for each match at the tournament once they are announced by the broadcaster.
The radio commentary of every match will be available only on the BBC, across Radio 5 Live, 5 Sports Extra and the BBC Sounds service. The BBC says there will be a “bespoke output” in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
In the US, the tournament is being shown on NBC Sports. In South Africa the TV coverage is on SuperSport.
Amazon Prime broadcast England’s four warm-up fixtures as well as nine other warm-up fixtures featuring other Six Nations teams.
Who is playing?
A total of 20 teams have qualified for the Rugby World Cup. These teams have been split into four pools of five, with each pool getting one team from five ‘bands’.
Band one featured the four highest-ranked teams from when the draw for the tournament was made back in 2019 (South Africa, New Zealand, England, Wales). Band two comprised the next four highest-ranked teams (Ireland, Australia, France, Japan) and band three the four after that (Scotland, Argentina, Fiji, Italy).
Each side in the first three bands qualified automatically for the tournament owing to their world ranking, while the further two bands comprised the sides who had made it into the tournament via qualifying (Samoa, Georgia, Uruguay, Tonga, Namibia, Romania, Chile, Portugal).
Who is in what pool?