The Rugby World Cup quarterfinals are upon us and 4 exciting clashes could swing any way. Bet Central explores all the key battles across the games.
Wales vs Argentina: Inside Centre Duel
After being one of the heroes in Los Pumas’ 1st ever win over the All Blacks on his debut in 2020, Santiago Chocobares disappeared from the national setup only to make a stunning return in 2023 and usurp Los Pumas veteran Jeronimo de la Fuente and establish himself as no.12.
Similarly, Nick Tompkins hasn’t always enjoyed the favour of his coaches with Wales, it is only at this World Cup that he truly established himself as the 1st choice inside centre for Wales. He has enjoyed a rich vein of form as Wales marched onto the quarterfinals by topping their pool.
The battle between these 2 centres will be intriguing, both have ingenuity and good hands. They are also both capable of upping the stakes physically and playing the battering ram role. It will be a good battle between 2 of the better inside centres in world rugby right now.
Ireland vs New Zealand: Supreme 9s
Aaron Smith has had a monopoly on the All Blacks no.9 jersey ever since he made his debut 12 years ago, he has been a masterful presence in that halfback berth throughout his career.
One of the players who could never quite break into the All Blacks setup, in part due to Smith’s presence, was Jamison Gibson-Park. He then decided to move to Ireland where he has found great success both at the domestic and national level with the Irish team.
Gibson-Park is perhaps ahead of Smith in terms of form these days, but Smith, who will bow out of the international game, will look to usurp the man he kept out of the black jersey many years ago and prolong his Test career for 1 more Test. A great battle lies ahead.
England vs Fiji: Hooking Battle
In another emotional twist for the Fijian national side, Sam Matavesi will line up at hooker for Fiji despite the death of his father earlier in the week. He will play on despite the tragedy.
He will face up against Jamie George who has had a great World Cup thus far. The Northampton Saints hooker will need to bring his A-game if he is to inspire Fiji to a very 1st semi-final in their history.
George is an abrasive presence for England and he will be crucial as Steve Borthwick’s team seeks to get one over a team that beat them in the warm-ups.
France vs South Africa: Gigantic 8thmen
When it’s all said and done, South Africans along with the French will look back at their starting 8thmen this week and perhaps adjudge them as the finest to wear the 8 jersey for the respective nations.
In the previous 4 year cycle with All Blacks legend and captain Kieran Read on the wane, Duane Vermeulen reigned supreme as the best 8thman culminating in him winning the World Cup in 2019. Now 4 years on he faces the man who took over from him as the preeminent – Gregory Alldritt.
The French 8thman is such a dynamic player for France. He’s aided many wins for France through his incredible defence, breakdown prowess, and relentless ball-carrying. The clash is one of an aging hero against the new age hero and it should produce fireworks.