On the official 2023 Rugby World Cup website which details the latest goings-on in France, there is a heartfelt nod to the Town of Rugby and William Webb Ellis, with the organisers paying homage to the events in east Warwickshire 200 years ago that led to the game’s inception.
Millions of fans would have seen this tribute over the last two months when visiting the site’s homepage during the 2023 World Cup and realised that without Webb Ellis’ “fine disregard for the rules” during a football match, the world wouldn’t have been privileged to witness what has arguably been the greatest World Cup of all time. Yes, everything that has happened in the history of the game leads back to Rugby in 1823.
One last dance in Paris
Now, on the eve of another World Cup final, rugby fans stand on the brink of more spine-tingling history being made as the All Blacks and Springboks fight it out to become the first nation to win four World Cups. Currently, the latest New Zealand vs South Africa betting odds suggest that the All Blacks are favorites to go all the way.
Indeed, if you bet on Rugby World Cup Final 2023 then you will see the All Blacks at odds of 8/11 to win while the Springboks are at 13/10. Whatever ends up happening in Paris on 28 October, the truth is that this tournament in France has delivered a show-stopping spectacle from the very first whistle and will, in all likelihood, be remembered as perhaps the greatest World Cup to ever take place. Here are some of the standout moments over the 51-day tournament.
The Irish uprising
Ireland arrived in France as the number one side in the world and the team tipped to win the 2023 World Cup. Never before had the Irish been the team to beat at a World Cup and this sense of expectation saw their fans turn out in their tens of thousands to the streets of France.
While Andy Farrell’s men played some exhilarating rugby on their way to a bitterly disappointing exit at the quarter-final stage, their partisan support has left the biggest mark on the tournament. In particular, fans’ rendition of the Cranberries’ Zombie after beating defending champions South Africa in the pool stage will undoubtedly become World Cup folklore.
— Murray Kinsella (@Murray_Kinsella) October 7, 2023
France’s box office quarter-final against South Africa
The first 40 minutes of France’s scintillating quarter-final clash against South Africa has been described as the greatest first half in history. When both teams turned to head down the tunnel after 40 minutes, six tries had been scored, a player had been sent to the sin bin and Cheslin Kolbe had completed the most audacious charge-down ever seen on a rugby pitch.
WHEN WILL THIS STOP, PLEASE DON'T LET IT! ✋
— ITV Rugby (@ITVRugby) October 15, 2023
In the end, South Africa would edge a thrilling encounter 29-28 after rallying late on to end the dream for the hosts. It seems wholly unlikely that the world will see a drama-filled knockout game like this in a Rugby World Cup ever again.
England’s courageous semi-final exit
Finally, sometimes it’s not the wins but rather the defeats that define a World Cup. In this case, England’s exit at the semi-final stage would have hurt after the Springboks took the lead for the first time in the match with only 150 seconds left on the clock.
However, once the dust had settled, the pain of losing in such an agonising way would have been replaced by enormous pride after Steve Borthwick’s men defied the pre-match predictions in such a courageous manner. With strong leadership and Owen Farrell’s pinpoint accuracy with the boot, England put on a stirring display that will never be forgotten – even despite losing.