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Confirmed: Definitive list of the 38 Test matches on road to World Cup

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by David Ramos/World Rugby via Getty Images)

World Rugby have confirmed the full schedule of preparation matches leading into Rugby World Cup 2023. The plan features 38 Test and six non-Test matches that will for the first time see all teams outside of the Six Nations and The Rugby Championship having a minimum of three high-quality preparation matches before the tournament gets underway in France in September.

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Having invested more than £4million in RWC 2023 preparations for its performance unions, the game’s global governing body has provided what it describes as “significant financial and technical support” for RWC-qualified teams outside of the two annual top-tier tournaments.

One example is Samoa, the Pacific Islanders who have been drawn in Pool D at the finals where they will meet Chile, Argentina, Japan and England from September 16 to October 7. Their warm-up schedule will see them take on Japan in Sapporo on July 22, Fiji in Apia on July 29, Tonga in Apia on August 5 and then Ireland in Bayonne on August 26.

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Another example is Georgia, the Eastern European who will encounter Australia, Portugal, Fiji and Wales in Pool C from September 9 to October 7. Their list of warm-up fixtures begins versus Romania in Tbilisi on August 12 and also includes an August 19 meeting with the USA at a venue to be confirmed and then an August 26 clash with Scotland in Edinburgh.

The full list of preparation matches kicks off on July 8 in Tokyo when a Japan XV hosts an All Blacks XV in a non-Test cap game and culminates on August 27 when World Cup hosts France take on Australia in the final warm-up before the tournament commences on September 8 with the French up against the All Blacks in match one at Stade de France.

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A statement read: “At present, 38 Test fixtures will take place across the globe in a busy period for international rugby. The international federation is playing a central role in coordinating the schedule of fixtures to provide each of the Rugby World Cup 2023 qualified teams with the best-possible preparation environment for the biggest event in men’s test rugby.

“In line with its commitment to grow the game globally, World Rugby has also put significant investment behind teams outside of The Rugby Championship and Six Nations to provide meaningful opposition to assist with Rugby World Cup preparations and beyond.

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“Highlights include Argentina playing Spain in Madrid and Samoa facing Ireland in Bayonne on August 26, while the USA – who fell short of qualifying for France 2023 – will travel to Europe to face Romania, Portugal and Georgia.”

World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont said: “World Rugby exists to make the game better, more accessible and relevant for everyone. Our commitment to support the high-performance programmes of our performance unions with significant investment and coordination expertise reflects that ambition.

“This schedule of international fixtures is the culmination of a lot of collaboration and hard work between our high-performance staff and all our member unions.

“We anticipate that France 2023 will be the most compelling of all men’s Rugby World Cups. Chile are taking part in their first Rugby World Cup ever, Portugal their second after 2007, and the top of the World Rugby men’s rankings powered by Capgemini has never been so competitive.

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“The preparation matches will give fans a foretaste of Rugby World Cup 2023 while providing match officials with great opportunities to perform ahead of rugby’s showcase event.”

Having last week named its list of 12 referees for the finals in France, World Rugby have now also unveiled its match official appointments for all the international fixtures taking place in July and August.

  • Click here for The Rugby Championship fixtures and match official appointments; 
  • Click here for the remaining July and August matches and match official appointments.
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N
Nickers 2 hours ago
'One of the poorest All Blacks performances I've seen in a long time'

Extreme hyperbole from Biggar. NZ have played far, far worse than that. The 20/21 team was by far the worst of the professional era. Losses to Argentina, shambolic game against Japan and hapless NH tour of 2021. But even that dreadful team were able to put 50 points on Wales and beat them by 38. Much easier to “tear them to pieces” from the commentary box apparently. Ignored by virtually everyone is how good the ABs defence was. That is why England didn’t win, they simply could not score enough points against that defence. The ABs attack was very average, but their defence was world class and that’s what won them the game. Any Wales team that Biggar has ever played for would have found themselves in the same situation and would definitely not have scored tries from those cross kicks. That ABs team beats Biggar’s best Wales team 31 - 13. England’s attack was as good as it was allowed to be by a superior defence. Hats off to Hansen, he has picked up where MacLeod finally got the ABs to last year and not missed a step. England’s attack will be a big worry for Borthwick. They have not established a reliable, repeatable way to break teams down and score points. They were held to some very low scores by average teams in the 6N, and again here didn’t cross 20 points on either occasion. If I was an England fan I would be crying out for a new attack coach. Borthwick would do well to cast his net now, a poor home winter with a faltering attack will start the calls for his job.

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T
Thomas 2 hours ago
'Champions get up when they can't': Matt Williams weighs in on Ireland's win over Boks

While both teams have their particular positives, I think neither team should rest on their laurels. South Africa managed to tie a series against an uncomfortable opponent, that has had their numbers for a couple of years, while trial-running a completely new attack system, that still doesn’t work properly. But one aspect of “it doesn’t work yet” is a transition from attack to defense in broken play, as the Boks leaked three tries in two matches this way, and lost the second match as a result. Ireland avoided a series loss in a hostile environment, and in spite of many key player injuries, while managing to significantly improve and tighten their defense in game 2 (which demonstrates the breadth of their squad as well as their ability to adjust and recalibrate). At the same time, their own attack hadn’t amounted to much, either (save from exploiting the gaps in the Boks’ new system, gaps that won’t be there anymore in a few months’ time), and they haven’t found an answer to the Boks scrum, which almost costed them the 2nd match, if it hadn’t been for pretty much unrepeatable Frawley heroics. In the end, there isn’t much that separates those two sides … which is exactly what we knew before the series already. Back to the drawing board for both teams, the work only just begins for two teams with the highest ambition. Start of a cycle alright.

16 Go to comments
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