The 2023 Rugby World Cup is set to be the most competitive tournament in the sport’s history. The gap between the top 10 and some of the old “Tier 2” nations is closing significantly, as England have already been reminded by Fiji at Twickenham. From personal experience, I sense there are several potentially awkward underdogs out there, weighed down with few expectations and eager to upset the odds in France.
I was fortunate enough to play for the USA Eagles at the 2019 World Cup in Japan. When we played France in Fukuoka, we had Les Bleus on the precipice and were only 12-9 down approaching the final 10 minutes. If it hadn’t been for a late flurry, France would have been humiliated.
It is that desire to make World Cup history that drives the “Tier 2” sides on, as was the case when Japan shocked South Africa in the Brighton miracle in 2015 and Uruguay stunned Fiji last time.