Which Rugby World Cup semi-finalist has the best record?
by Steve Ashfield | by Steve Ashfield
October 20 and 21 sees the semi-finals of the 2023 Rugby World Cup take place. On the 20th, it's New Zealand v Argentina and the day after, England face defending champions South Africa. It promises to be an exciting weekend of rugby and the four remaining countries will be going all out to win and reach the final. For some it's a chance to make history and others will be out to prove their critics wrong. Let's look at the four semi-finalists and their history in this competition.
A Fourth Title for the All-Blacks?
Rugby World Cup history shows that you should never write-off the All-Blacks. They have lifted the trophy on three occasions (as have South Africa) and only in 2007 have they failed to make it to the last four. This year saw them lose their opening game against France but since then they have won four games in a row and that includes beating world number one ranked Ireland in the quarter finals.
They come into the last four as the highest scoring team of those remaining in the competition. 281 points have been scored by the All-Blacks, 101 more than England and South Africa with Argentina lagging behind on 156. That figure has been bloated by their wide-margin wins over Namibia, Uruguay and Italy but show them to be a team that is extremely powerful going forward. They last won the Rugby World Cup in 2015, that's also the last time they reached the final. Remember you can follow all the action on our Sportytrader Livescore page.
Argentina Out to Reach First Final
The Pumas are the lowest ranked country left in the 2023 Rugby World Cup. They are currently in seventh position and that's five below the All-Blacks in the live rankings. This is only the third time that they have made it this far in this tournament. The last four was also reached in 2007 and 2015 Their best ever performance was in 2007 when finishing in third place. They will want to go at least one better this year.
Like their semi-final opponents, Argentina also began this Rugby World Cup with a defeat. They lost to England in a match where their opponents didn't score a try. Since then, the Pumas have beaten Samoa, Chile and Japan in their pool and in the last eight knocked out Wales. Only the win over Chile produced a winning margin of over 12 points. Of the remaining countries, they have conceded most points, a total of 86 in five games.
They regularly play New Zealand in the Rugby Championship. Their last two games against them have seen 94 points conceded. Only twice in 36 internationals have they beaten New Zealand but those wins came in 2020 and 2022.
Springboks Bidding to Retain their Title
South Africa are the defending world champions and determined to retain their title. Like New Zealand, they have won the Rugby World Cup on a record three occasions. However, the Springboks have played two less tournaments than the All-Blacks.
Their first time in the tournament was in 1995 when they hosted and won the Rugby World Cup. They also won in 2007 and 2019, finishing third in 1999 and 2015. A win this year will make them only the second team to retain the trophy. New Zealand managed that feat in 2011 and 2015.
South Africa have lost one match so far in this 2023 Rugby World Cup. That was against Ireland in the pool stages but they are unbeaten since then and beat hosts France in the last eight. They are now back at the top of the world rankings. Only 62 points have been conceded by them in this tournament, the best defensive record of the remaining four teams.
Their semi-final against England is a repeat of the 2019 Rugby World Cup final. The Springboks have won 27 of their 45 internationals against England. That includes the last three in the World Cup with two of those wins coming in France 16 years ago. You can find out the latest betting odds on this site.
Proving Their Critics Wrong
The critics did not give England much chance of success in the 2023 Rugby World Cup. Poor form had been shown in the Six Nations and an inconsistent set of international results since then. However, here they are as the only European country left in the tournament and yet to taste defeat in France.
It's not been the most dominant Rugby World Cup for England. No tries against Argentina, a single point win over Samoa and a 30-24 victory against Fiji in their quarter final. Owen Farrell (above) will hope to continue the scoring run that saw his conversions and penalties get them through against Fiji.
They have won the Rugby World Cup just once in 2003 and since then lost in the final in both 2007 and 2019. Winning this year will break the record for the longest gap between title triumphs. Of five previous semi-finals only once have they been beaten. They are the underdogs to detrone South Africa and get revenge for that 2019 final loss.