Rugby World Cup 2023 ‘wide open’, Says Renowned Coach

  • Respected coach Stuart Lancaster believes forecasting this year’s Rugby World Cup champion in France is a challenge.
  • The ex-England guide remarks that the Boks stand as a formidable team.
  • However, he emphasized that Scotland, South Africa’s competitor in Pool B, presents a significant challenge.
  • For additional sports updates, visit the News24 Sports homepage.
  • To place bets for the Rugby World Cup tournament, you can visit the official Sbobet website at You can predict the match scores, which team will win, or who will score a goal. On this site, other sports betting options are available, one of which is soccer.

As the pulse of the Rugby World Cup starts racing in France, Stuart Lancaster, the former England coach, will be keenly observing. An astonishing 11 players from his current team, Racing 92, might take to the field.

Discussing the tournament’s dynamics, he conveyed to AFP, “The possibilities are endless,” further emphasizing how “France’s enthusiasm is set to electrify the event.”

Lancaster’s journey, marked by an early stint as a Scotland youth international, saw him recently shift to the club in Paris’s outskirts after a notable seven-year tenure at Leinster in Ireland.

With Racing preparing to begin their run, minus 11 of their World Cup stars, against Bordeaux-Begles this Saturday, it’s just a trilogy of Top 14 clashes before the league takes a hiatus till October 29.

Countries like France, Wales, England, South Africa, Fiji, and Georgia are boasting Racing athletes in their lineup. Among them are a few of Racing’s sensational new additions, not forgetting South Africa’s World Cup 2019 victor, Siya Kolisi, who’s gearing up post-injury.

Being pragmatic, Lancaster acknowledges potential setbacks during the contest. Referring to France’s Romain Ntamack’s recent knee setback, he points out that, “He won’t be the last.”

Lancaster underscores the importance of having a robust backup, mentioning, “A deep bench, rich in talent, could be the deciding factor as the finale nears.”

Being let go post the 2015 England team’s pool stage exit, Lancaster remains circumspect about favoring any team. Though he initiated with Scotland, citing, “They’re in top form now.”

“I’ve trained several Irish players, and they, along with host France, look formidable from the northern hemisphere,” he adds.

Looking southward, Lancaster mentions, “The All Blacks are showcasing growing strengths in the Rugby Championship. South Africa is a powerhouse, while Australia’s recent win over New Zealand was a masterclass.”

He, however, reflects on rugby’s unpredictability, saying, “A single game can pivot in so many unexpected directions, from referee decisions, unanticipated card penalties to mere luck.”

Highlighting the emerging teams, he shares, “Tier two nations could steer the outcomes. They might not clinch the title, but with revised eligibility norms, nations like Tonga, Samoa, and Fiji seem promising.”

Amidst the World Cup’s frenzy, Lancaster is acclimating to France – from mastering the language and settling into a new home to “navigating the right side of the road.” Embracing the change, he admits, “It’s enriching and challenging in equal measure.”

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CAF Unveils 2026 FIFA World Cup Qualification Structure

  • For the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualification, countries from Africa will be grouped into nine clusters, each containing six nations.
  • This edition of the World Cup will be unique, marking the debut of a 48-team lineup.
  • The tournament will be co-hosted by Canada, the United States, and Mexico.

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has announced a new format for the 2026 World Cup qualifiers, which involves dividing its 54 member countries into nine groups of six.

The top team from each group will secure a spot at the inaugural World Cup with 48 participating teams. This tournament will be jointly held by the United States, Canada, and Mexico. By contrast, the 2022 edition in Qatar featured 32 teams.

The four most impressive second-placed teams will advance to a playoff round. The victorious sides from this stage will then participate in an inter-confederation showdown, battling for two coveted World Cup slots.

Following a CAF executive committee gathering in Algeria, the organization declared that the qualification draw is set to take place in Cotonou, Benin on 12 July.

The initial pair of 10 scheduled matchdays is penciled in for 13-21 November this year. Subsequent matchdays are spread across 3-11 June, 17-25 March, 1-9 September, and 6-14 October of 2025.

The period between 10-18 November in 2025 has been earmarked for the pivotal four-team playoffs. Winners of these playoffs will compete alongside two nations from North and Central America, and one each from Asia, Oceania, and South America.

Morocco carved a niche for themselves in the annals of football history during the Qatar World Cup, emerging as the first semi-finalists from Africa. Their journey saw them succumb to France 2-0 in the semi-final and face a narrow 2-1 defeat to Croatia in the third-place tie.

In related news, CAF has declared that the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations draw, set to take place in Ivory Coast, is slated for 12 October.

Already, four qualification rounds have occurred, with two more anticipated on 12-20 June and 4-12 September.

Besides Ivory Coast, who qualify automatically as the hosts, nations including Algeria, Burkina Faso, Morocco, Senegal, South Africa, and Tunisia have confirmed their spots, leaving 17 still open.

Turning attention to club football, CAF has revealed an uptick in prize money for the Champions League and the Confederation Cup, Africa’s answer to the UEFA Europa League.

The Champions League victors will receive a whopping $4 million, a significant leap from last season’s $2.5 million. Runners-up will be awarded $2 million, and the semi-finalists will earn $1.2 million.

The Confederation Cup champions will pocket $2 million, marking an increment of $750,000. Runners-up will take home $1 million, while the semi-finalists will get $750,000.

Egypt’s Al Ahly, a team boasting a record 10 victories, has secured a spot in the two-leg Champions League final. They await the winner between South Africa’s Mamelodi Sundowns and Morocco’s Wydad Casablanca.

Additionally, Young Africans from Tanzania and USM Alger have earned their spots in the Confederation Cup finale.

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