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Rugby World Cup 2023 team guides: Pool A - France, New Zealand, Italy, Uruguay, Namibia

Read below for all you need to know about Rugby World Cup Pool A, as hosts France, three-time winners New Zealand, Italy, Uruguay, Namibia face one another; We detail the key dates, fixtures, each team's World Cup records, key players, head coaches, the 33-player squads for tournament

Credit - AP Photo/Getty

We look at everything you need to know from Rugby World Cup Pool A, as hosts France, three-time winners New Zealand, Italy, Uruguay and Namibia face off...

Rugby World Cup 2023 Pool A fixtures

  • Friday September 8: France vs New Zealand (8pm, Paris)
  • Saturday September 9: Italy vs Namibia (12pm, Saint-Etienne)
  • Thursday September 14: France vs Uruguay (8pm, Lille)
  • Friday September 15: New Zealand vs Namibia (8pm, Toulouse)
  • Wednesday September 20: Italy vs Uruguay (4.45pm, Nice)
  • Thursday September 21: France vs Namibia (8pm, Marseille)
  • Wednesday September 27: Uruguay vs Namibia (4.45pm, Lyon)
  • Friday September 29: New Zealand vs Italy (8pm, Lyon)
  • Thursday October 5: New Zealand vs Uruguay (8pm, Lyon)
  • Friday October 6: France vs Italy (8pm, Lyon)

France's Rugby World Cup record

1987: Runners-up

1991: Quarter-finals

1995: Third place

1999: Runners-up

2003: Fourth place

2007: Fourth place

Also See:

2011: Runners-up

2015: Quarter-finals

2019: Quarter-finals

Key player

Antoine Dupont. An easy answer. Absolutely everything France do well revolves around their general at scrum-half. Dupont is incredibly difficult to contain and defend, and as long as he is in the side, France will believe they can beat everybody and win a first World Cup, in front of their home fans. He leads a hugely talented squad of players and is a Rolls Royce of a rugby player.

Dupont carries the ball for France
Image: France scrum-half Antoine Dupont was named World Player of the Year in 2021, and Six Nations Player of the Year in 2020, 2022 and 2023

Head coach

Fabien Galthie. Having initially been scheduled to take over from Jacques Brunel after the 2019 World Cup, Galthie was parachuted in as vice-head coach alongside Brunel for the tournament in Japan, which saw France exit to Wales at the quarter-final stage, after Sebastien Vahaamahina's daft red card.

Since being the sole man in charge, Galthie has transformed France into one of the strongest sides in the world. He has led them to a 2022 Six Nations Grand Slam, No 1 ranking in the world for a time and victories over New Zealand, Australia and South Africa.

Image: Fabien Galthie has transformed France into a dominant side focused on World Cup glory

France's 2023 Rugby World Cup squad

Forwards (19): Cyril Baille, Jean-Baptiste Gros, Reda Wardi, Uini Atonio, Dorian Aldegheri, Sipili Falatea, Julien Marchand, Peato Mauvaka, Pierre Bourgarit, Bastien Chalureau, Thibaud Flament, Romain Taofifenua, Cameron Woki, Gregory Alldritt, Paul Boudehent, Francois Cros, Sekou Macalou, Charles Ollivon, Anthony Jelonch.

Backs (14): Antoine Dupont (captain), Maxime Lucu, Baptiste Couilloud, Matthieu Jalibert, Antoine Hastoy, Damian Penaud, Gabin Villiere, Louis Bielle-Biarrey, Gael Fickou, Jonathan Danty, Arthur Vincent, Yoram Moefana, Thomas Ramos, Melvyn Jaminet.

New Zealand's Rugby World Cup record

1987: Champions

1991: Third place

1995: Runners-up

1999: Fourth place

2003: Third place

2007: Quarter-finals

2011: Champions

2015: Champions

2019: Third place

Key player

Ardie Savea/Will Jordan. The All Blacks may not have been in some of the all-conquering form of old over recent years, suffering nine Test defeats since the last World Cup, in addition to a 25-25 draw with England from 25-6 ahead, but in Savea they have undoubtedly one of the best back-row forwards in the world.

The No 8 shines in contact, with the ball, at the breakdown and in defence and is a true all-rounder. In the backs, Will Jordan is arguably the most devastating winger in terms of pace and try-scoring in the sport at the moment.

New Zealand's number eight Ardie Savea runs with the ball during the Rugby Championship international rugby match between South Africa and New Zealand at Emirates Airline Park in Johannesburg on August 13, 2022. (Photo by WIKUS DE WET / AFP) (Photo by WIKUS DE WET/AFP via Getty Images)
Image: New Zealand No 8 Ardie Savea is one the best rugby players in the world currently

Head coach

Ian Foster. After serving as All Blacks assistant coach to Steve Hansen between 2012 and 2019, Foster took over after the last World Cup to become head coach in 2020. He will depart following the 2023 World Cup after a distinctly rocky spell in charge which has seen them lose to Australia, Argentina (twice), South Africa (twice), Ireland (three times) and France, with the defeats to Ireland seeing New Zealand lose a three-Test series 2-1 on home soil.

Despite the patchy form, Foster has led them to Rugby Championship titles for four successive years in 2020 (Covid Tri-Nations), 2021, 2022 and 2023 (reduced three-week format).

New Zealand's head coach Ian Foster during the Rugby Championship test between South Africa and New Zealand at Mbombela Stadium in Mbombela, South Africa, Saturday, Aug. 6, 2022. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)
Image: All Blacks head coach Ian Foster will depart his role after the 2023 Rugby World Cup after a rocky spell in charge

New Zealand's 2023 Rugby World Cup squad

Forwards (18): Ethan de Groot, Tyrel Lomax, Nepo Laulala, Fletcher Newell, Ofa Tu'ungafasi, Tamaiti Williams, Dane Coles, Samisoni Taukei'aho, Codie Taylor, Scott Barrett, Brodie Retallick, Tupou Vaa'I, Samuel Whitelock, Sam Cane (captain), Shannon Frizell, Luke Jacobson, Dalton Papli'I, Ardie Savea.

Backs (15): Finlay Christie, Cam Roigard, Aaron Smith, Beauden Barrett, Damian McKenzie, Richie Mo'unga, Jordie Barrett, David Havili, Rieko Ioane, Anton Lienert-Brown, Caleb Clarke, Leicester Fainga'anuku, Will Jordan, Emoni Narawa, Mark Telea.

Italy's Rugby World Cup record

1987: Pool Stages

1991: Pool Stages

1995: Pool Stages

1999: Pool Stages

2003: Pool Stages

2007: Pool Stages

2011: Pool Stages

2015: Pool Stages

2019: Pool Stages

Key player

Ange Capuozzo/Michele Lamaro. Full-back Capuozzo, who burst onto the scene with his stunning run and try assist for Italy to beat Wales in Cardiff in the 2022 Six Nations, has since gone on to sign for French powerhouses Toulouse at club level and continued to display his wonderful running ability.

Flanker Lamaro is the skipper and spiritual leader of this building Azzurri group. They are no longer a side simply dispatched.

EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - MARCH 18: Italy's Michele Lamaro
Image: Italy's Michele Lamaro is their spiritual on-pitch leader from the back-row

Head coach

Kieran Crowley. The New Zealander has been in charge of the Azzurri since the summer of 2021, having previously been head coach of Benetton for five years in Italy, and Canada before that between 2008 and 2016.

The 61-year-old has done a marvellous job in charge of Italy, rebuilding them from Six Nations no-hopers to a threat, picking up wins over Wales (in Cardiff), Australia and Samoa, while also pushing France and Scotland close. The announcement he will depart after the 2023 World Cup came as a big surprise.

Italy head coach Kieran Crowley ahead of the Guinness Six Nations match at Stadio Olimpico, Rome. Picture date: Saturday March 12, 2022.
Image: New Zealander Kieran Crowley has done a superb job in charge of Italy

Italy's 2023 Rugby World Cup squad

Forwards (19): Pietro Ceccarelli, Simone Ferrari, Danilo Fischetti, Ivan Nemer, Marco Riccioni, Federico Zani, Luca Bigi, Epalahame Faiva, Giacomo Nicotera, Niccolo Cannone, Dino Lamb, Federico Ruzza, David Sisi, Lorenzo Cannone, Toa Halafihi, Michele Lamaro (captain), Sebastian Negri, Giovanni Pettinelli, Manuel Zuliani.

Backs (14): Alessandro Fusco, Alessandro Garbisi, Martin Page-Relo, Stephen Varney, Tommaso Allan, Giacomo Da Re, Paolo Garbisi, Juan Ignacio Brex, Luca Morisi, Pierre Bruno, Ange Capuozzo, Monty Ioane, Paolo Odogwu, Lorenzo Pani.

Uruguay's Rugby World Cup record

1987: Not invited

1991: Did not qualify

1995: Did not qualify

1999: Pool Stages

2003: Pool Stages

2007: Did not qualify

2011: Did not qualify

2015: Pool Stages

2019: Pool Stages

Key player

Andres Vilaseca. A number of the Uruguay squad play their club rugby in France, but none are more experienced than centre and captain Vilaseca, who holds 74 Test caps. The 32-year-old is a veteran of two previous World Cups, and will lead his nation with huge pride.

Andres Vilaseca
Image: Uruguay centre Andres Vilaseca skippers the side, having earned 74 Test caps and played at two previous World Cups

Head coach

Esteban Meneses. Uruguay head coach since December 2015, Argentine Meneses led the nation to the 2019 World Cup in Japan and a historic, emotional 30-27 victory over Fiji in the pool stages. In a very tough pool this time around, Uruguay and Meneses will be looking to defeat Namibia and challenge Italy.

Esteban Meneses
Image: Esteban Meneses has been Uruguay head coach since December 2015, and oversaw a famous victory over Fiji four years ago

Uruguay's 2023 Rugby World Cup squad

Forwards (18): Mateo Sanguinetti, Matias Benitez, Facundo Gattas, German Kessler, Guillermo Pujadas, Ignacio Peculo, Diego Arbelo, Reinaldo Piussi, Ignacio Dotti, Manuel Leindekar, Felipe Aliaga, Manuel Ardao, Santiago Civetta, Manuel Diana, Lucas Bianchi, Carlos Deus, Juan Manuel Rodriguez, Eric Dos Santos.

Backs (15): Santiago Arata, Santiago Alvarez, Agustin Ormaechea, Felipe Etcheverry, Felipe Berchesi, Andres Vilaseca (captain), Nicolas Freitas, Felipe Arcos Perez, Tomás Inciarte, Gaston Mieres, Baltazar Amaya, Juan Manuel Alonso, Rodrigo Silva, Bautista Basso, Ignacio Facciolo.

Namibia's Rugby World Cup record

1987: Not invited

1991: Did not qualify

1995: Did not qualify

1999: Pool Stages

2003: Pool Stages

2007: Pool Stages

2011: Pool Stages

2015: Pool Stages

2019: Pool Stages

Key player

Torsten van Jaarsveld. A vastly experienced hooker, the 36-year-old is a real try threat while also being a solid lineout and breakdown operator. He has shown his talents up against Irish, Welsh, Scottish and Italian clubs in the old PRO12 with the Cheetahs and more recently in France with Bayonne.

Torsten van Jaarsveld
Image: Namibia hooker Torsten van Jaarsveld is a quality performer

Head coach

Allister Coetzee. The former South Africa head coach (2016-2018) has been in charge of Namibia since the summer of 2021, and the 60-year-old travels to France 2023 having never previously been a head coach at a World Cup, despite his wealth of coaching experience.

Allister Coetzee
Image: Former South Africa head coach Allister Coetzee leads Namibia into the 2023 World Cup

Namibia's 2023 Rugby World Cup squad

Forwards (19): Jason Benade, Aranos Coetzee, Desiderius Sethie, Haitembu Shifuka, Louis van der Westhuizen, Torsten van Jaarsveld, Casper Viviers, Tiaan de Klerk, Obert Nortje, Richard Hardwick, Adriaan Ludick, Johan Retief, Mahepisa Tjeriko, Tjiuee Uanivi, Max Katjijeko, Prince Gaoseb, PJ van Lill, Wian Conradie, Adriaan Booysen

Backs (14): Damian Stevens, Oela Blaauw, Jacques Theron, Cliven Loubser, Tiaan Swanepoel, Andre van der Berg, Johan Deysel, JC Greyling, Danco Burger, Le Roux Malan, Alcino Isaacs, Gerswin Mouton, Chad Plato, Divan Rossouw

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