England is set to participate in the semi-finals of the 2023 Rugby World Cup, marking a pivotal moment where their mettle will be put to the test this weekend. The tournament’s sub-plot in France this year revolves around the peculiar draw, which has notably favored England. Conversely, Ireland and France, despite harboring hopes of making it to the finals, found themselves facing formidable quarter-final opponents in the form of New Zealand and South Africa.

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In stark contrast, England had a seemingly easier path in the quarter-finals, where they bested Fiji with relative ease. However, a significant shift awaits them this weekend as they gear up to take on the formidable South Africa, the new world No. 1 team, in the semi-finals. This match holds extra significance as it is a rematch of the 2019 Rugby World Cup final, where England faced a 32-12 thrashing. Overcoming the odds will be crucial for England’s success this time.

For live updates and insights into the Rugby World Cup, Express Sport will be covering the action leading up to this weekend’s intense semi-final matchups. England’s Maro Itoje, a key figure in the team’s lineup, is unfazed by the underdogs tag associated with his team as they approach the semi-final clash against South Africa. Drawing inspiration from an NFL documentary featuring Jason Kelce, Itoje emphasizes the importance of determination and seizing opportunities, whether underdogs or favorites.

Eddie Jones’ Uncertain Future: Japan Coaching Rumors Amid Rugby World Cup

A cloud of uncertainty hovers over Eddie Jones, England’s coach, regarding his future role, with reports suggesting that he may consider taking up the position of the Japan national team coach. Mark Ella, a Wallabies legend and a close friend of Jones, calls for transparency in Jones’ interactions with the media, especially in Australia. It’s worth noting that this speculation surfaced during the Rugby World Cup, causing some disruption to England’s preparations.

Mark Ella expressed his surprise at the rumors surrounding Eddie Jones, calling the situation strange. It seemed unusual for Jones to seek another job within six months of arriving in Australia from England. Ella emphasizes the importance of Jones addressing the Australian media with transparency to clarify his future. The expectation is that he should honestly communicate with the media and rugby supporters. Ella hopes Jones will remain in his role for another four or five years.

England’s attack coach, Richard Wigglesworth, commended South Africa for their remarkable 29-28 victory over France in the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals. England and South Africa are on course for a semi-final clash, reminiscent of their 2019 final encounter. Wigglesworth acknowledged the exceptional performance of South Africa in defeating France on their home turf. He referred to South Africa as one of the best rugby teams, considering their aim to achieve back-to-back victories. Wigglesworth highlighted the evolution and strength of South Africa’s game and their impressive team stability.

Maintaining Focus: New Zealand’s Defense Coach on Preparing for Semifinal Clash

The aftermath of England’s Rugby World Cup quarter-final battle with Fiji still awaits a comprehensive medical report, as reported by The Telegraph. England’s players demonstrated exceptional dedication throughout the encounter, with Marcus Smith, the full-back, sustaining a head injury and requiring a bandage. Despite the physical challenges, England secured a 30-24 victory over Fiji. Their next challenge in the semi-finals will be against South Africa, the same team they faced in the semi-finals four years ago.

Owen Farrell’s performance in England’s Rugby World Cup quarter-final victory over Fiji drew praise from Danny Care. The Saracens fly-half was chosen as the No. 10 ahead of George Ford, and he faced some pre-match boos from certain fans.

Danny Care praised Owen Farrell’s leadership and performance during the quarter-final match, highlighting his role as captain. Care emphasized the sense of security and confidence that Farrell’s presence brings to the team. He commended Farrell for his field management, successful goal-kicking, excellent defense, and overall contributions.

New Zealand is using their 2019 Rugby World Cup semi-final loss to England as a lesson to prevent over-confidence ahead of their last-four clash with Argentina. They are wary of a repeat scenario where they peaked in the quarter-finals but faced challenges in the following week. New Zealand’s defense coach, Scott MacLeod, stressed the importance of preparation and maintaining high-quality focus and energy during the week leading up to the crucial match. They aim to avoid disruptions and build confidence among the players.

Rugby World Cup Delivers Another Thrilling Evening in Paris

The Rugby World Cup experienced another extraordinary evening in Paris, featuring an intense and dramatic game. However, the absence of home interest ahead of what appears to be two potentially one-sided semi-finals on paper has raised concerns. England faces the challenge of disorientating South Africa, especially with their slower ruck ball and one-dimensional attack. The upcoming match presents a significant test for Steve Borthwick’s team against the defending world champions.

In the end, France managed to make 12 clean breaks compared to South Africa’s five, beating 42 defenders while South Africa managed 12. France also dominated in terms of possession (59 percent) and territory (63 percent). Despite these statistics, they fell short in this thrilling match of RWC. The game had been overshadowed by intense speculation about Antoine Dupont’s cheekbone injury, sustained during a pool-stage victory over Namibia last month.

Within the Stade de France, the atmosphere was electric during Dupont’s warm-up, with every move cheered by the crowd. Concerns lingered about the risk of reinjury, but Dupont, sporting a black scrum cap, showcased his brilliance, making probing runs and clever chips to exploit gaps behind South Africa’s defense in a captivating, back-and-forth first half.

Heavyweight Showdown: Thrilling First Half in Rugby World Cup

The first half felt like a heavyweight title fight, with both teams landing what seemed like knockout blows. First, Cyrille Baille scored in the corner, followed by Kurt-Lee Arendse’s try after Eben Etzebeth intercepted a pass. Damian de Allende added to South Africa’s tally after chaos in France’s defense. However, In RWC France responded with a quick penalty and a try by Mauvaka. The action was relentless, with Kolbe charging down Ramos’ conversion and then scoring in the corner for South Africa’s third try. Dupont’s kick set up Baille for his second try, leveling the score at 19-19. The first half ended with Etzebeth receiving a yellow card, and Ramos converting a penalty for a narrow 22-19 lead.

The second half, as expected, couldn’t match the intensity of the first. South Africa eventually wore down France, with Etzebeth scoring from close range and Pollard nailing a massive penalty. Ramos closed the gap with another penalty after de Klerk’s offside infringement at a breakdown. Unfortunately, France couldn’t score again. England faces a daunting task in Paris next weekend if they hope to advance in the Rugby World Cup.

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