The knockout stage of the Rugby World Cup is upon us, meaning that the group stage of the competition has come to its conclusion. However, some nations will likely be extremely disappointed that their campaign has come to an early end, as much more was expected on the grandest stage.
There has been no shortage of bright moments from some of the biggest nations at the World Cup, with France and Ireland both looking excellent in their bids to win a maiden honor. However, who have been some of the biggest disappointments at the Rugby World Cup to this point?
It would be challenging to start with any other nation when it comes to the biggest disappointments at the 2023 Rugby World Cup.
While many were aware of the challenges that Australia had coming into the tournament, there was still a widespread belief that they had the quality within their squad to make a deep run in the competition.
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However, the alarm bells were sounding early surrounding their chances, as reports emerged that Eddie Jones was eyeing up a return to Japan. That controversial story did little to aid their chances on the field, as Australia exited the tournament in the pool stage for the first time in their history. Defeats against Wales and Fiji meant it was the end of the road, and they would have likely been matches that the Aussies had expected to win before the start of the tournament. Australia conceded a staggering 91 points in the pool stage, which was their most in history in the opening round.
Things are likely to get more tricky for Australia over the coming months, with Jones expected to depart for Japan, meaning that the search will be on for a new full time coach.
It may seem a little harsh to include Scotland in a list of the most disappointing teams at the World Cup this year, but it was mainly the manner of their defeats that would have been the most concerning factor.
The Scots came into the World Cup in a really strong place after finishing third in the Six Nations, accumulating more wins than both England and Wales, who were able to secure a place in the next round at the World Cup. Scotland were rolled over by South Africa in their opening match, while they caved under the pressure of the Irish in their must-win showdown on the final day of Pool B.
It is worth mentioning that they were pitted in a group alongside the defending champions and one of the pre-tournament favorites, but more would have been expected from the team based on their showings this year.
Their exit at the first hurdle means it was the second straight edition of the tournament that they had been eliminated in the pool stage, ending a run of five quarterfinal appearances in six renewals of the World Cup before the 2019 tournament.
Rugby in Japan continues to be on the rise, and there would have been confidence surrounding the team’s chances before the start of the 2023 World Cup. They enjoyed a solid home tournament four years ago, reaching the last eight before falling to defeat against future world champions South Africa. But, the attacking flair that they showed in their home tournament was missing throughout their appearances in the pool stage this year.
Japan were placed in Pool D alongside Argentina, Samoa, and England, and they were a solid chance to progress in one of the top two spots. They started the tournament well with a victory over Chile, before slipping to defeat against England. Japan’s fate were in their own hands going into the final round of matches following a historic win over Samoa in Toulouse, but they failed to defend at the standard required in Nantes against Argentina, allowing 39 points in the defeat.
Japan finished the pool stage in third, which would be at least a slight positive, as their place in the next edition of the World Cup is assured. But, they need to rediscover the parts of their game that made them among the most entertaining sides to watch at the 2019 World Cup.
Samoa would have been extremely disappointed with their appearances at the World Cup this year, as defeats against England, Japan, and Argentina saw them record three defeats. That was an extremely disappointing campaign for a nation that was tipped up by many to be potential dark horses at the World Cup.
For years there has been talk of Georgia joining the Six Nations due to their dominance in the second tier. However, a stern reality check was handed out regarding their drop in performance levels at the World Cup, as they finished bottom of the Pool C standings, with fellow European minnows Portugal finishing a place above.