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The Rugby World Cup . . . What Do We Know So Far?

So, how has your Rugby World Cup been so far?

Pretty good, if you’re Welsh!

After all, Wales are top of Pool C, they were the first country to confirm a place in the quarter-finals, and have been enjoying some down time before their final pool stage game against Georgia.

Victories over Fiji (tough), Portugal (unconvincing) and Australia (ruthless) have put Wales into the last eight and a likely shoot-out with either Argentina or Japan.

But what else have we learned from the tournament in France so far?

Well, maybe the biggest takeaway has been more apparent conformation that the balance of power in the global game has shifted.

From south to north.

Remember, the last four World Cups have been won by southern hemisphere nations – South Africa (twice) and New Zealand (twice).

In fact, of the nine World Cups held so far, eight have been won by the southern hemisphere giants of New Zealand, South Africa or Australia – with only England breaking the sequence in 2003.

But as we head towards the final matches of the pool stages in 2023, the two strongest teams would appear to be hosts France and Ireland.

The French put the All Blacks away and the Irish arm-wrestled the Springboks into submission in maybe the most gripping tie of the competition so far.

The pecking order in terms of strength on show – and one roughly reflected in the betting by DragonBet – would probably have Ireland and France jointly at the top, with South Africa and New Zealand a little way behind, and then unbeaten England and Wales pushing hard behind that.

Australia? In the words of their coach: “Well, mate . . . we’ve let you down.”

In other words, the north are leading the charge and the south are struggling to keep up.

Of course, it’s early days and the All Blacks might start to look awesome again if they rumble past Italy and Uruguay.

Or maybe Argentina can get some southern comfort going by proving too hot for Chile and then overcoming Japan.

Scotland might still have something to say about Ireland’s dominance in Pool B, if they can take it to a late Celtic cousin shoot-out.

As for Wales, then there is still one game left to win – against Georgia on October 7 – if they are to make sure of topping Pool C.

That’s significant because if Wales lost to the Georgians – as, of course, they did this time last year – then wins for Fiji over Georgia and Portugal might yet see the Fijians topping Pool C and Wales having to face England.

“It’s about winning. We want to finish top of our group. It was only a few short months ago Georgia beat us. We’ll be treating them with massive respect,” says Wales assistant Jonathan Humphreys.

Forwards coach Humphreys was part of Wayne Pivac’s coaching team when Wales were beaten by Georgia and stayed on in his role when Warren Gatland came in.

The former hooker adds: “There are no wrongs to right. They (Georgia) deserved it and were excellent on the day. It was difficult to watch at the end. This is a totally different thing.

“It’s not about revenge or anything like that. It’s about making sure we’re at our best to win the game and top our group.”

Georgia have been disappointing by their recent standards and their World Cup has not really caught fire. They have lost to Australia and drew with Portugal.

Before facing Wales, they face Fiji in Bordeaux on Saturday.

Fancy the Georgians to turn it all around by getting 10 points against Fiji and Wales, winning a quarter-final against England, and going all the way to lift the Webb Ellis trophy?

Well, it’s your lucky day, because DragonBet are offering 1000/1.

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