Rugby World Cup 2023 team guides: Pool D – England, Argentina, Japan

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We look at everything you need to know from Rugby World Cup Pool D, as 2003 champions England, Argentina, Japan, Samoa and Chile clash…

Rugby World Cup 2023 Pool D fixtures

  • Saturday September 9: England vs Argentina (8pm, Marseille)
  • Sunday September 10: Japan vs Chile (12pm, Toulouse)
  • Saturday September 16: Samoa vs Chile (2pm, Bordeaux)
  • Sunday September 17: England vs Japan (8pm, Nice)
  • Friday September 22: Argentina vs Samoa (4.45pm, Saint-Etienne)
  • Saturday September 23: England vs Chile (4.45pm, Lille)
  • Thursday September 28: Japan vs Samoa (8pm, Toulouse)
  • Saturday September 30: Argentina vs Chile (2pm, Nantes)
  • Saturday October 7: England vs Samoa (14.45pm, Lille)
  • Sunday October 8: Japan vs Argentina (12pm, Nantes)

England’s Rugby World Cup record

1987: Quarter-finals

1991: Runners-up

1995: Fourth place

1999: Quarter-finals

2003: Champions

2007: Runners-up

2011: Quarter-finals

2015: Pool Stages

2019: Runners-up

Key player

Maro Itoje. When England reached the Rugby World Cup final in 2019, second row Itoje was a player playing out of his skin, excelling at each and every aspect of Test rugby. His form has been patchy since, but with selection question marks all around Steve Borthwick’s side, if Itoje can reach his top levels, he could lead England far.

Maro Itoje was a pivotal performer in England's run to the 2019 World Cup final, and will be seeking to return to those levels

Maro Itoje was a pivotal performer in England’s run to the 2019 World Cup final, and will be seeking to return to those levels

Head coach

Steve Borthwick. England head coach since December 2022, Borthwick was also previously England forwards coach under Eddie Jones between 2016-2020, before coaching Leicester Tigers as head coach between 2020-2022, winning the 2021 Premiership title.

The 43-year-old has had just one Six Nations campaign to date, which saw no improvement on Jones’ displays as they finished fourth after defeats to Scotland, France and Ireland. They also suffered World Cup warm-up defeats to Wales and Ireland.

Steve Borthwick took over from Eddie Jones as England head coach, but has not started well in the role

Steve Borthwick took over from Eddie Jones as England head coach, but has not started well in the role

England’s 2023 Rugby World Cup squad:

Forwards (19): Dan Cole, Ellis Genge, Joe Marler, Bevan Rodd, Kyle Sinckler, Will Stuart, Theo Dan, Jamie George, Jack Walker, Ollie Chessum, Maro Itoje, Courtney Lawes, George Martin, Tom Curry, Ben Earl, Lewis Ludlam, David Ribbans, Billy Vunipola, Jack Willis.

Backs (14): Danny Care, Alex Mitchell, Ben Youngs, Owen Farrell (c), George Ford, Marcus Smith, Elliot Daly, Ollie Lawrence, Joe Marchant, Jonny May, Manu Tuilagi, Henry Arundell, Max Malins, Freddie Steward.

Argentina’s Rugby World Cup record

1987: Pool Stages

1991: Pool Stages

1995: Pool Stages

1999: Quarter-finals

2003: Pool Stages

2007: Third place

2011: Quarter-finals

2015: Fourth place

2019: Pool Stages

Key player

Julian Montoya. The Argentina skipper is a crucial leader for this Pumas squad, and pivotal to their scrum, lineout and maul efforts as a hooker. For Argentina to be a threat in this World Cup, their set-piece and discipline needs to be able to hold up and compete.

Leicester Tigers hooker Julian Montoya is Argentina's current captain

Leicester Tigers hooker Julian Montoya is Argentina’s current captain

Head coach

Michael Cheika. Argentina head coach since March 2022, Australian Cheika – Wallabies head coach between 2014 and 2019 – will depart the role after the World Cup, with Felipe Contepomi taking over.

Cheika has brought a noticeable improvement to Pumas displays, leading Argentina to a 2-1 series win over Scotland in July 2022, in addition to victories over Australia home and away, the All Blacks on Kiwi soil and Pool D opponents England at Twickenham.

Former Australia head coach Michael Cheika has improved the Pumas, overseeing wins vs New Zealand, Australia, England and Scotland

Former Australia head coach Michael Cheika has improved the Pumas, overseeing wins vs New Zealand, Australia, England and Scotland

Argentina’s 2023 Rugby World Cup squad:

Forwards (18): Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, Francisco Gómez Kodela, Joel Sclavi, Thomas Gallo, Eduardo Bello, Julián Montoya (c), Agustín Creevy, Ignacio Ruiz, Matías Alemanno, Tomás Lavanini, Guido Petti, Facundo Isa, Pablo Matera, Juan Martín González, Santiago Grondona, Marcos Kremer, Rodrigo Bruni, Pedro Rubiolo.

Backs (15): Gonzalo Bertranou, Tomás Cubelli, Lautaro Bazán Vélez, Santiago Carreras, Nicolás Sánchez, Santiago Chocobares, Lucio Cinti, Jerónimo de la Fuente, Matías Moroni, Emiliano Boffelli, Mateo Carreras, Rodrigo Isgró, Juan Cruz Mallía, Martín Bogado, Juan Imhoff.

Japan’s Rugby World Cup record

1987: Pool Stages

1991: Pool Stages

1995: Pool Stages

1999: Pool Stages

2003: Pool Stages

2007: Pool Stages

2011: Pool Stages

2015: Pool Stages

2019: Quarter-finals

Key player

Kazuki Himeno. Just as Michael Leitch was an outstanding back-row forward and leader for Japan in 2015 and 2019, in 2023 the star man is No 8 Himeno. The 29-year-old’s performances have been so strong he spent a season playing for the Highlanders in New Zealand in Super Rugby, and is a superb carrier of the ball and breakdown operator.

Japan back-row Kazuki Himeno is a superbly talented player

Japan back-row Kazuki Himeno is a superbly talented player

Head coach

Jamie Joseph. Japan head coach since 2016, New Zealander Joseph will be departing after the World Cup in France. He led the Brave Blossoms to stunning World Cup victories over Ireland and Scotland as hosts in 2019 and to a historic quarter-final place, where they suffered defeat to eventual winners South Africa.

Jamie Joseph oversaw a stunning 2019 World Cup campaign for Japan on home soil, but they have largely struggled since

Jamie Joseph oversaw a stunning 2019 World Cup campaign for Japan on home soil, but they have largely struggled since

Japan’s 2023 Rugby World Cup squad:

Forwards (18): Keita Inagaki, Craig Millar, Sione Halasili, Koo Ji-won, Shinnosuke Kakinaga, Asaeli Ai Valu, Shota Horie, Atsushi Sakate, Kosuke Horikoshi, Jack Cornelsen, Warner Dearns, Uwe Helu, Amanaki Saumaki, Pieter Labuschagne, Shota Fukui, Kazuki Himeno, Michael Leitch, Ben Gunter

Backs (15): Naoto Saito, Yutaka Nagare, Kenta Fukuda, Lee Seung-sin, Rikiya Matsuda, Jumpei Ogura, Ryoto Nakamura, Tomoki Osada, Shogo Nakano, Dylan Riley, Siosaia Fifita, Semisi Masirewa, Jone Naikabula, Lomano Lemeki, Kotaro Matsushima.

Samoa’s Rugby World Cup record

1987: Not invited

1991: Quarter-finals

1995: Quarter-finals

1999: Quarter-final playoffs

2003: Pool Stages

2007: Pool Stages

2011: Pool Stages

2015: Pool Stages

2019: Pool Stages

Key player

Steve Luatua/UJ Seuteni. We’ve split Samoa’s key player into two, an outstanding forward and an outstanding back. World Rugby’s new eligibility laws, which mean players who do not represent a nation for a three-year period can return to play for the country of their birth or that of a parent/grandparent, has seen a number of talented players from the Pacific islands return to squads.

Flanker Luatua picked up 15 All Blacks caps until 2016, and is a fabulous operator who could grace any forward pack, while La Rochelle’s European champion Seuteni is one of the best centres in the world.

Samoan centre UJ Seuteni was outstanding as La Rochelle beat Leinster in Dublin to win the 2023 European Cup

Samoan centre UJ Seuteni was outstanding as La Rochelle beat Leinster in Dublin to win the 2023 European Cup

Head coach

Seilala Mapusua. Samoa head coach since August 2020, Mapusua picked up 26 Test caps as a centre for Samoa between 2006 and 2013.

It has been some time since Samoa have picked up a marquee victory in Test rugby, but with some of the players now available to Mapusua via World Rugby’s new eligibility laws, and Pool D not being a toughest group by any means, a quarter-final spot is not beyond the realms or aims.

Samoa head coach Seilala Mapusua picked up 26 Test caps as a centre for Samoa between 2006 and 2013

Samoa head coach Seilala Mapusua picked up 26 Test caps as a centre for Samoa between 2006 and 2013

Samoa’s 2023 Rugby World Cup squad:

Forwards (18): Michael Alaalatoa (co-c), Paul Alo-Emile, Charlie Faumuina, Jordan Lay, Seilala Lam, Sama Malolo, Luteru Tolai, Brian Alainuuese, Theo McFarland, Sam Slade, Chris Vui (co-c), Sootala Faasoo, Miracle Fai’ilagi, Fritz Lee, Steven Luatua, Alamanda Motuga, Taleni Seu, Jordan Taufua.

Backs (14): Ere Enari, Melani Matavao, Jonathan Taumateine, Christian Leali’ifano, Lima Sopoaga, Alai D’Angelo Leuila, Tumua Manu, Duncan Paiaaua, UJ Seuteni, Nigel Ah Wong, Ed Fidow, Neria Fomai, Benjamin Lam, Danny Toala.

Chile’s Rugby World Cup record

1987: Not invited

1991: Did not enter

1995: Did not qualify

1999: Did not qualify

2003: Did not qualify

2007: Did not qualify

2011: Did not qualify

2015: Did not qualify

2019: Did not qualify

Key player

Martin Sigren. The skipper is one of only three players in the squad who plays outside of Chile, with the 27-year-old back-row currently a Doncaster Knights player. The 26-year-old has spoken about his nation’s ‘remarkable qualification’ and will lead the side with enormous passion.

Doncaster Knights back-row Martin Sigren will captain Chile in their maiden Rugby World Cup

Doncaster Knights back-row Martin Sigren will captain Chile in their maiden Rugby World Cup

Head coach

Pablo Lemoine. Chile head coach since 2018, Lemoine picked up 48 caps for Uruguay as a prop between 1996 and 2010, and leads Chile into their first ever Rugby World Cup after beating Canada (54-46 on aggregate) and then the USA (52-51 on aggregate) in qualifiers.

Former Uruguay prop Pablo Lemoine has been head coach of Chile since 2018, as they beat Canada and the USA to qualify

Former Uruguay prop Pablo Lemoine has been head coach of Chile since 2018, as they beat Canada and the USA to qualify

Chile’s 2023 Rugby World Cup squad:

Forwards (17): Javier Carrasco, Salvador Lues, Matías Dittus, Iñaki Gurruchaga, Esteban Inostroza, Augusto Bohme, Tomás Dussaillant, Diego Escobar, Javier Eissmann, Pablo Huete, Santiago Pedrero, Augusto Sarmiento, Alfonso Escobar, Raimundo Martínez, Clemente Saavedra, Martín Sigren (c), Ignacio Silva.

Backs (13): Lukas Carvallo, Marcelo Torrealba, Benjamín Videla, Rodrigo Fernández, Santiago Videla, Pablo Casas, Matías Garafulic, José Ignacio Larenas, Domingo Saavedra, Franco Velarde, Nicolás Garafulic, Iñaki Ayarza, Francisco Urroz.

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