RWC 2023: What did we learn from round one?

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Highlights from day two of the Rugby World Cup in France where there were opening victories for Italy, Ireland, Australia and England

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Highlights from day two of the Rugby World Cup in France where there were opening victories for Italy, Ireland, Australia and England

Highlights from day two of the Rugby World Cup in France where there were opening victories for Italy, Ireland, Australia and England

Ahead of the second round of the Rugby World Cup, we take a look at the talking points that emerged from the opening weekend…

England on the up?

A win is a win, right? That is how a large majority of England fans will feel after experiencing quite a lot of nerves about facing the Pumas in their opening match.

Sky Sports News' Eleanor Roper reports from Marseille as England answered their critics with a dominant win over Argentina in their World Cup opener

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Sky Sports News’ Eleanor Roper reports from Marseille as England answered their critics with a dominant win over Argentina in their World Cup opener

Sky Sports News’ Eleanor Roper reports from Marseille as England answered their critics with a dominant win over Argentina in their World Cup opener

With Argentina higher in the world rankings, and having beat England at Twickenham last year, the prospect of a defeat loomed but the 27-10 win has hushed a lot of doubters and hugely increased England’s prospects of making it out of their group and into the quarter-finals.

Although England may want to start scoring some points from something other than George Ford’s boot, their steely defence sent a message and now as they prepare to face Japan, a side head coach Steve Borthwick knows all too well from his time as assistant coach under Eddie Jones, they will want to see more improvement.

England's George Ford reflects on their opening Rugby World Cup victory after he kicked all 27 points in their win over Argentina

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England’s George Ford reflects on their opening Rugby World Cup victory after he kicked all 27 points in their win over Argentina

England’s George Ford reflects on their opening Rugby World Cup victory after he kicked all 27 points in their win over Argentina

England may be without Tom Curry for their match against Japan but Billy Vunipola will be a welcome return to the side following his suspension and their confidence will have rocketed; selection choices now becoming a headache for the England boss.

“I thought George Ford was magnificent,” said Borthwick after the match. “We can all talk about his kicking, what he did scoring the points but the composure and the management he showed throughout.

England's head coach Steve Borthwick heaped praise on the leaders in his side as they defeated Argentina 27-10 in their opening Rugby World Cup match thanks to George Ford's brilliant kicking display

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England’s head coach Steve Borthwick heaped praise on the leaders in his side as they defeated Argentina 27-10 in their opening Rugby World Cup match thanks to George Ford’s brilliant kicking display

England’s head coach Steve Borthwick heaped praise on the leaders in his side as they defeated Argentina 27-10 in their opening Rugby World Cup match thanks to George Ford’s brilliant kicking display

“Tonight [Saturday] is another example of the great leadership in this England team. A lot has been said in the past about the leadership within the England team but what I see is a group that is packed full of senior pros who are fantastic leaders. Like the man next to me [Courtney Lawes], George Ford, we could discuss Jamie George, Ellis Genge, the list could go on.”

So, with Owen Farrell sidelined for another match due to his ban, could the man who was exiled from this England side, last starting a Test back in 2021 before Saturday, keep the captain firmly on his toes for a spot against Samoa with another big performance?

Ireland and France confirm frontrunner status?

It is difficult to compare the performances of the two favourites for this year’s World Cup, but both have started in excellent form.

Ireland train ahead of their second Rugby World Cup Group B match against Tonga having beaten Romania in their opening game

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Ireland train ahead of their second Rugby World Cup Group B match against Tonga having beaten Romania in their opening game

Ireland train ahead of their second Rugby World Cup Group B match against Tonga having beaten Romania in their opening game

Ireland romped past Romania in spectacular fashion, an 82-8 scoreline confirming that their attack is something all sides should fear.

Whereas France faced their toughest group stage game against the All Blacks in the World Cup opener and showed their class, fighting back for a 27-13 victory in front of a home crowd.

Ireland's players were pleased to get their Rugby World Cup campaign up and running with an 82-8 win over Romania, their biggest ever victory at the tournament

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Ireland’s players were pleased to get their Rugby World Cup campaign up and running with an 82-8 win over Romania, their biggest ever victory at the tournament

Ireland’s players were pleased to get their Rugby World Cup campaign up and running with an 82-8 win over Romania, their biggest ever victory at the tournament

It should be an easier task for France next as they face Uruguay, while Ireland face Tonga. However, Andy Farrell’s side then have South Africa and Scotland.

Watch the best of the action as France beat New Zealand 27-13 in the Rugby World Cup opener

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Watch the best of the action as France beat New Zealand 27-13 in the Rugby World Cup opener

Watch the best of the action as France beat New Zealand 27-13 in the Rugby World Cup opener

With a big test ticked off for France and two big ones to come for Ireland, as the group stage unfolds we will get a clearer picture of who is truly on top between these two sides or whether the southern hemisphere teams can topple them once again.

Wales survive a scare – will they improve from here?

Wales’ close shave against Fiji would have been more of a surprise had Fiji not toppled England for the first time at Twickenham in their final World Cup warm-up game.

Highlights from day three of the Rugby World Cup in France where there were wins for defending champions South Africa, Japan, and Wales

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Highlights from day three of the Rugby World Cup in France where there were wins for defending champions South Africa, Japan, and Wales

Highlights from day three of the Rugby World Cup in France where there were wins for defending champions South Africa, Japan, and Wales

The feeling was that Wales had got away with one in their 32-26 victory, leaving head coach Warren Gatland furious at his side’s lack of composure in the big moments.

“There were periods which were excellent and there were learnings, you know, with all the hard work that we’ve put in,” said Gatland.

James Savundra reports from Bordeaux where Wales held on to claim their first win of the World Cup 2023 over Fiji

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James Savundra reports from Bordeaux where Wales held on to claim their first win of the World Cup 2023 over Fiji

James Savundra reports from Bordeaux where Wales held on to claim their first win of the World Cup 2023 over Fiji

“And there were some times where when you’re in control of the game, it’s about your man management. And I kind of go back to four or five years ago when we’d been through this process for the team as it was growing and developing, and it took us a bit of time to actually be able to comfortably implement sort of the game management and understanding and players not giving away stupid penalties and putting us under pressure.

“And then so today there was incidents of that. And like I said, it’s making sure that we’re honest and we review that and we learn from those situations about how we manage things going forward and and everyone getting better.”

Warren Gatland says his team's game management was 'dumb' during Wales' win over Fiji in the Rugby World Cup

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Warren Gatland says his team’s game management was ‘dumb’ during Wales’ win over Fiji in the Rugby World Cup

Warren Gatland says his team’s game management was ‘dumb’ during Wales’ win over Fiji in the Rugby World Cup

Now, with Portugal awaiting in their second group game, they will be hoping to gel more as an outfit, the tests of Australia and Georgia, who shockingly beat them in the Autumn Nations Series in 2022, still to come.

They have a wealth of experience in their side and now they just have to use it.

Scotland in trouble in the group of death as Springboks look strong

When the World Cup groupings were announced, any team in Pool B will have felt hard done by. Made up of Scotland, Ireland, South Africa, Tonga and Romania, every match presents a stern task, and Scotland have work to do if they want to challenge for a quarter-final spot.

Their opening game loss to defending champions South Africa has put a real dent in their hopes but, if they can beat Tonga this week and go into their last pool game against Ireland with something to play for, there is no saying what could happen.

Sky Sports Eleanor Roper reports as defending champions South Africa get their World Cup campaign off to a winning start against Scotland

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Sky Sports Eleanor Roper reports as defending champions South Africa get their World Cup campaign off to a winning start against Scotland

Sky Sports Eleanor Roper reports as defending champions South Africa get their World Cup campaign off to a winning start against Scotland

Indeed, with South Africa playing Ireland on September 23, this group will get a whole lot more interesting, three big nations battling it out right to the final game.

With so much pressure, Scotland will now either rise to the challenge, or be completely shot of confidence by one defeat and captain Jamie Ritchie now knows his side must win every game in Pool B.

“As a group, we have got three massive games to come for us,” said Ritchie.

“We can’t afford to slip up. The pressure is on us now. We have to hit the ground running in two weeks’ time.

“Ireland was always going to be a really important game for us, but all the games are must-win now.”

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