Eddie Jones believes that the 2023 Rugby World Cup will be the “most fascinating” yet, with a more even playing field providing more chances for upsets and shock results.
The former England boss predicts that there will be more upsets and shocks during the tournament in France, following suit to the FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
Speaking to Kyodo News, Jones said there is no reason why the ‘smaller countries’ could reach the semi-finals of the World Cup and hopes that they will replicate the efforts of the Moroccan and Croatian football sides.
“A tiny country like Morocco and a tiny country like Croatia made the final four,” Jones said in reference to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
“In rugby, it’s not so much about population; it’s more about tradition, so what’s to say two smaller countries cannot make the final four.
“Imagine if you had a final four of New Zealand, South Africa, Japan and Fiji. Imagine how fascinating that would be — probably not too fascinating for Ireland or France, but there’s no reason that couldn’t happen.”
Jones believes that developments have been made in the smaller rugby-playing countries that should help them claim more upsets at the Rugby World Cup.
Focusing on Fiji and Japan, he said there has been an equalisation of coaching talent and improvements in facilities that would assist this.
“There’s been a coaching equalisation so, just for instance, Japan has had Jamie Joseph, and Tony Brown, who I imagine would be good enough to coach the All Blacks. So that’s an advantage for Japan,” he added.
“Fiji now have a world-class training centre, which they never had before. So all these changes are happening that are allowing countries to come up. So it makes it a much more even playing field.”
While Jones says the playing field has been evened out, he doesn’t see any of the teams outside the current top six as overall winners in France.
Jones divides the current Test teams into three clusters.
“There’s three clusters of teams as I look at it,” he said.
“There is nothing between them [the first cluster of the top six ranked sides], so any of those teams could beat each other on the day.”
The second cluster for Jones includes Japan and Argentina, adding that “Probably any of those [in the second group] could beat the top six on their day, though probably not consistently.
“And underneath that, you have another group of Italy, Samoa, Fiji, Tonga and Georgia, and all of those five could probably beat (the teams above them).”
‘Most interesting World Cup’
The competitiveness of international rugby ahead of the World Cup leads Jones to conclude that 2023 will be the most intriguing tournament to date.
“The general pattern has been New Zealand has been miles ahead, and then there’s South Africa and England like in 2019 chasing them,” he said, adding having three clusters “makes for the most interesting World Cup.”
READ MORE: England: Five New Year’s resolutions for Steve Borthwick as Six Nations and Rugby World Cup loom large
The article Rugby World Cup: Eddie Jones predicts that 2023 will be the most interesting tournament yet, with a ‘more even playing field’ appeared first on Planetrugby.com.