Two Cents Rugby’s five takeaways from the third weekend of the Rugby World Cup

Two Cents Rugby
Two Cents Rugby, Ireland, South Africa, Australia, Wales during the 2023 Rugby World Cup

Two Cents Rugby and Rugby World Cup stars Samu Kerevi and Mack Hansen

With the Rugby World Cup into its third week, what are five notable trends from the tournament? Two Cents Rugby investigates.

Aussie lows

Eddie Jones will be feeling the brunt of Australia’s loss to Wales. He picked a young side for this World Cup, which was always going to be high-risk.

If they had been knocked out during a quarter-final, it would have been at least a pass for the side. But now, in all likelihood, the Wallabies will be going home at the pool stage for the first time in their history.

Not only that but in a game when they needed to step up, they suffered their worst-ever World Cup loss and their worst-ever loss to Wales.

Jones has talked about building this squad towards 2027 and deflected questions about being potentially linked to the Japanese job, but surely, at this point, his future is in the balance.

France’s injuries

Antoine Dupont’s facial injury against Namibia has been rightly compared to Dan Carter’s 2011 injury for New Zealand. He is probably the best player in the world, playing at a home World Cup, and sidelined before the end of the pool stage. Carter’s injury ruled him out of the tournament.

For Dupont, it’s not certain how long he will be out for, but any game without him in France’s line-up will be a blow. Combine that with Romain Ntamack being out; suddenly, France’s key halves combo is looking less formidable than pre-tournament.

Some will say Dupont should have been rested or substituted earlier against a Namibian side France were beating comfortably, but given Carter’s 2011 injury occurred in a training session, ultimately, the threat of injury is always a possibility.

A cut above

The match between Ireland and South Africa felt like a final rather than a pool-stage game. It’s still very early days, but if these two teams were to meet again at the end of October, I don’t think it would be surprising to many.

Both sides still have important pool games to get through first; Scotland awaits Ireland in what is a do-or-die clash for the Scots, and South Africa won’t be sleeping ahead of their game against Tonga.

For both the Irish and the Boks, it’ll be a chance to right some wrongs from this titanic clash. Ireland will look to improve their lineout work and thus allow their maul to go to work.

For South Africa, the much talked about goal-kicking situation needs to be addressed, and they’ll be concerned about how the work at the breakdown went. But overall, both sides set a marker for the rest of the teams to try and match.

Portugal impress

The blowout results at the World Cup aren’t a great look for rugby as a whole. Any time the scoreline is blowing past 60, it becomes a pretty disengaging game, even if there are good skills on display.

Portugal, though, the final team to qualify for the competition, have bucked this blowout trend for their opening two matches. A 20-point loss to a Six Nations side like Wales may not have gained them any points in the pool but was certainly better than most expected.

Game two against Georgia was one that was always going to be competitive, but Georgia was supposed to win this match. If not for a missed kick at the death, Portugal would have had their first-ever Rugby World Cup victory.

The two points from this draw already betters their 2007 effort, where they lost all four games.

Definitely one of the better Tier 2 stories thus far.

Argentina dark horse

Are Argentina still a dark horse for this Rugby World Cup? Going into the tournament, many were tipping Los Pumas to top their pool and potentially push on through, at least until the semi-finals. However, from two games, they haven’t yet clicked.

They were poor against England, despite having an extra man for the majority of the game. And now against Samoa, having had a week off, Argentina got the win, but it wasn’t convincing.

They managed one early try to go with the late one they scored against England. Two tries in two games is less than what we’d expect, given the attacking weapons the Pumas have.

On the bright side they’ve not been conceding many tries, so they could still well go up a level, but Los Pumas don’t look like they’ve hit anywhere near top gear just yet. They’ll need to find that form soon or face an earlier exit than expected.

READ MORE: David Campese exclusive: Rugby Australia needs an overhaul after ‘one of the darkest days in Wallaby history’