For this first day of competition, a busy schedule awaits rugby fans. Italy, opposed to Namibia, must win if they want to have a chance of getting out of a pool in which they will later be opposed to France and New Zealand. Ireland, for its part, is opposed to Romania. A trap match that should not be taken lightly against the 19th nation in the world.
Australia also kicks off its World Cup today. The Wallabies will have a tough time facing a strong Georgia team. Eddie Jones' men want to start their World Cup in the best possible way and forget their big defeat in preparation against France (41-17). Finally England faces Argentina for what amounts to the shock of the day. Facing the Pumas, the XV de la Rose in poor shape could already be in great danger, not helped by the absence of its captain Owen Farrell, suspended.
Italy-Namibia (group A): 1:00 p.m. (M6)
Ireland-Romania (Group B): 3:30 p.m. (M6)
Australia-Georgia (group C): 6:00 p.m. (M6)
England-Argentina (group D): 9:00 p.m. (TF1)
The day after the opening match and recovery on the players' program, between treatments and a light session. Analysis of the match against the All Blacks by the staff of the French XV. And debriefing for the press by videoconference at 11:30 a.m. by one of Fabien Galthié’s assistant coaches.
Favorite against Namibia, Italy hopes to succeed in creating the feat in a group where they will be notably opposed to the Blues and the All Blacks. This was the speech this week from Andrea Moretti, coach of the Italian forwards: “Our objective is to win as many matches as possible, knowing that we will have to take on the opponents one after the other,” said he notably declared at a press conference. “We are currently focused on Namibia, then we will focus on Uruguay, then New Zealand and finally France,” he continued, although aware of the challenge this represents. “We have a minimum objective, it is third place (in the group, directly qualifying for the next World Cup, editor's note), but we also want to create opportunities and show that we can play at the level of the best teams during 80 mins.” The Italians, led by their young Toulouse fullback Ange Capuozzo, are favorites this afternoon against Namibia.
Argentina will count on another Toulouse player for today's clash against England. Used to playing winger, he was repositioned at full-back for the occasion. He had an interesting season with Stade Toulousain, notably in the Champions Cup where he scored three tries in five starts. Returning from suspension following a bad move during Argentina-South Africa this summer, the Puma will bring his speed and his sense of testing to his selection.
This is Australia's number of quarter-final qualifications, nine in as many appearances. We can even specify four finals and two World Cups won (1991, 1999). But the mission does not look so easy for the Wallabies this year, in a Group C which seems fairly balanced (Fiji, Wales, Georgia and Portugal). Watch out for bad surprises...