Rugby World Cup 2023: When does it start, Scotland fixture dates, when is the final, who are favourites

The 2023 Rugby World Cup is just around the corner with 20 teams set to compete for the Webb Ellis Cup.

The iconic trophy was last lifted by South Africa in Japan in 2019 and the Springboks will be out to defend their crown against a host of strong challengers including bookies favourites New Zealand, Six Nations champions Ireland and tournament hosts France.

Scotland have also risen to fifth in the World rankings over the past year thanks to an impressive run of results under Gregor Townsend but, having been drawn in a tough group alongside South Africa and Ireland, face a difficult task to progress to the knock-out rounds.

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England, runners-up four years ago, have plummeted to eighth in the World rankings after a poor Six Nations was followed up by a series of defeats in World Cup warm-up fixtures, the last of which saw them go down to Fiji at Twickenham.

The 2023 Rugby World Cup will be held in France. Pictured is the Webb Ellis Cup trophy. (Photo by LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP via Getty Images)The 2023 Rugby World Cup will be held in France. Pictured is the Webb Ellis Cup trophy. (Photo by LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP via Getty Images)
The 2023 Rugby World Cup will be held in France. Pictured is the Webb Ellis Cup trophy. (Photo by LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP via Getty Images)

Chile are making their World Cup debut after beating Canada and the USA in Americas qualifying, while Portugal are set to return to the tournament for the first time in 16 years.

Here is everything you need to know ahead of the tournament ...

When does the Rugby World Cup start?

The 2023 Rugby World Cup gets underway with the opening ceremony on Friday, September 8 as tournament hosts France take on New Zealand in the opening Pool A fixture at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, Paris. Kick-off is 8.15pm UK time with the opening ceremony getting underway from 7pm.

When and who are Scotland playing?

Scotland are in Pool B and begin their tournament against defending world champions South Africa on Sunday, September 10. The match will take place at the Stade Vélodrome in Marseille with a 4.45pm kick-off. Tonga are next up for Gregor Townsend’s side on Sunday, September 24 at the Stade de Nice with another 4.45pm kick-off. The third group fixture sees Scotland take on Romania at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy in Lille on Saturday, September 30, kick-off 8pm. The fourth and potentially decisive final pool fixture is against Ireland on Saturday, October 7 at the Stade de France. Kick-off is 8pm.

Group stage format

The 20 teams are divided into four groups as follows:

Pool A – New Zealand, France, Italy, Uruguay, Namibia

Pool B – South Africa, Ireland, Scotland, Tonga, Romania

Pool C – Wales, Australia, Fiji, Georgia, Portugal

Pool D – England, Japan, Argentina, Samoa, Chile

The top two teams from each pool advance to the quarter-finals. The teams who finish third secure automatic qualification for the 2027 World Cup, which is scheduled to take place in Australia in 2027.

Knock-out stage format

The quarter-final draw is as follows:

QF1 – Pool C winner v Pool D runner-up

QF 2 – Pool B winner v Pool A runner-up

QF 3 – Pool D winner v Pool C runner-up

QF 4 – Pool A winner v Pool B runner-up

That means if Scotland manage to progress from the group stages they would be likely to face New Zealand or France in the quarter-finals if results go as expected.

The semi-final draw is as follows:

Winner of QF 1 v Winner of QF2

Winner of QF 3 v Winner of QF 4

When is the final?

The 2023 Rugby World Cup final takes place on Saturday, October 28, at the Stade de France, kick-off 8pm.

World Cup odds

New Zealand 11/4, France 3/1, South Africa 7/2, Ireland 9/2, England 12/1, Australia 10\1, Argentina 25/1, Wales 40/1, Scotland 40/1 – Bet365.



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