The top four nations, Ireland, France, South Africa, New Zealand, advance into the quarterfinals, all looking to raise the trophy in Paris on 28 October.
Wales will face Argentina in a shocking opening quarterfinal matchup.
Wales have put together a fantastic run throughout their pool matches. A team that struggles in Six Nations have put together a stronghold defense that they could depend on to make a run similar in the first edition of the competition, where they finished third. This Welsh side is so dynamic and fluid in their attacking ability, forcing the opposition into conceding penalties. Relying on their control from set pieces could be the difference between chasing the game and controlling the game.
The best rugby nation from South America, Argentina, continue to improve while looking to better their third place result in 2007. After a disappointing opening match, Los Pumas went on to dominate the rest of their pool. The ability to switch flanks quickly will be a useful tactic against their opponents. They will benefit from their playmaking ability when up a man, so if awarded that opportunity they will possess most of the ball and earn some points with the man advantage. Argentina must be creative in their offensive and defensive ability to win penalties, and earn metres through their kicking game.
Despite Fiji losing to Portugal in their final match of pool play, the island nation will take on England while looking to advance past the quarterfinal for the first time in their history.
Fiji are lucky to have advanced through Pool C. They must control their offense inside the 10-metre line and not concede penalties. The island nation’s carrying ability is the key to success, winning their rucks, mauls, and set pieces will determine if Fiji can get past England and advance past the quarterfinal for the first time. The defensive ability to minimise the metres earner through carries will be another successful tactic they need to execute.
England, drawn in a favourable group according to world rankings, conceded an average of less than 10 points a match. While already qualified having clinched the group before playing Samoa in their final Pool D match, the English didn’t look organised. This stable team will rely on their all-round features especially keeping their conceded penalties to a minimum. On the other hand, forcing their opponents into penalties is a great way for England to advance the ball and winning their set pieces after entering the 22-metre line is vital to control the game.
Reigning champion, South Africa, will take on the Pool A winner and host, France, after finishing second in Pool B.
The hosts at this edition of the World Cup have started their pool play undefeated, including a surprise result against the all-famous All Blacks. France have depended on their set piece execution to advance past the reigning champion. They also know when to take points, unlike other top nations, they will settle for a penalty, rather than looking for a lineout near the five-metre line off a free kick. After a crushing victory over Six Nation rival, Italy, the hosts will carry that momentum looking to play to perfection both offensively and defensively.
The reigning World Cup champion, South Africa, are well rested ahead of their tough match up against France. The Springboks had a rough pool play, expected blowouts against Tonga and Romania, but a difficult win against Scotland and a devastating defeat against Ireland. The three-time champion’s defense will dictate how far they go in this competition. They have a strong line that not many can break through and have an outstanding ability to break up and win opponents set pieces.
The hottest team in the world, Ireland, will take on the historically great All Blacks in the must-watch match of the quarterfinals.
The best team in the World, according to rugby world rankings, have gone 12-0 this year. The ability to play make out of any ruck, no matter how many phases the attack is on, is a dangerous tactic for their opponents to handle. This Irish defense is one of the best, especially on their own tryline. They can force opponents into turnovers after dealing with at least five phases just metres out of their try area. The only area that they may have a disadvantage are the set pieces, strong defenses have the ability to cause turnovers and disrupt a promising Irish attack. But, their support has come in large numbers and could push them past their first quarterfinal in team history.
The All Blacks, no matter how shaky they may look, can never be counted out. They had a crunch match against Italy, and when put under pressure scored 96, tying the highest scored points in a single match at this year’s World Cup. New Zealand has picked up momentum when the needed it. They have a fantastic ability to win the ball back and keep control while earning penalty advantages and forcing their opponents into long phase attacks. Historically, the All Blacks have an incredible advantage winning a majority of the matchups against Ireland, but they will need to play the best rugby of the year to down the Six Nations champion.