Rugby World Cup final and 3rd playoff teams and news: Curry named for England, Smith returns at No.15

PARIS – The 2023 World Cup reaches a climax this weekend with the final two matches of the seven-week long tournament at Stade de France.

The final promises to be a classic between the free-wheeling All Blacks and South African team that has been able to claw their way across the finish line in their two knockout games.

The winner of the final will become the first team to four World Cup titles.

A night earlier England will face Argentina in a game to decide which team finishes in third place. The teams will be reported here as they’re announced.

3rd/4th place playoff: Argentina vs England, Stade de France, 6am AEDT Saturday

Tom Curry, who is at the centre of a racism row involving South Africa’s Bongi Mbonambi has been picked to start his 50th Test.

Owen Farrell will captain a starting XV with eight changes to the side that was beaten by the Springboks in the semi.

A new-look front row sees vice-captain Ellis Genge return to the starting line-up to pack down with Theo Dan at hooker and Will Stuart at tighthead.

The second-row partnership sees Maro Itoje link up with Ollie Chessum. In the backrow, Sam Underhill is named on the openside flank to make his first appearance of the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

Ben Earl rounding off the scrum at No.8.
Ben Youngs, England men’s most capped player of all time, starts his first game of the tournament at scrumhalf to win his 127th cap. An unchanged midfield sees Manu Tuilagi and Joe Marchant combine again. Steve Borthwick has named a back three full of excitement with Marcus Smith returning from concussion at fullback and Henry Arundell and Freddie Steward on the wings.



As always with this fixture desire and disappointment play a role. Curry has been the subject of personal abuse after his on-field reaction to Ben O’Keeffe last week where he said he’d been called a vile insult.

This is set to be the last hurrah for Argentina’s Australian coach Michael Cheika at the helm of the Pumas.

What they’re saying

Richard Wigglesworth, England assistant: “There are all sorts of different stories to grab onto this week. We need to make sure we treat every case individually in terms of what is going to motivate them. But as a team we are really motivated to show our progress, to finish in the right way which is a win and a feeling we deserve.

“[Argentina] will come out all guns blazing. They’ve had slightly longer to recover. We’re expecting a huge challenge, we know this game is a way to finish in the right way for both teams.”

Mateo Carreras, Argentina winger: “I trust 100 per cent in the 33 players that are here in France. We are going to prepare like a final. We are not satisfied with being here. We want a medal and we are going to fight for that.”


Argentina: Team expected 2am AEDT Thursday.

England (1-15): Ellis Genge, Theo Dan, Will Stuart, Maro Itoje, Ollie Chessum, Tom Curry, Sam Underhill, Ben Earl, Ben Youngs, Owen Farrell (c), Henry Arundell, Manu Tuilagi, Joe Marchant, Freddie Steward, Marcus Smith.

Replacements: Jamie George, Bevan Rodd, Dan Cole, David Ribbans, Lewis Ludlam, Alex Mitchell, George Ford, Ollie Lawrence.

World Cup final: New Zealand vs South Africa, Stade de France, 6am AEDT Sunday


The Boks have had to prepare under the shadow of a World Rugby investigation into Mbonambi, but the star hooker should be available for selection regardless of further action.

The South African scrum has been a feature of their advancement and the bomb squad has New Zealand wary.

It’s a final match as coach for Jacques Nienaber, off to Leinster, while Rassie Erasmus could also depart.

New Zealand have a settled side with a selection decision to be made over their hookers. It will be the end of the road for many of the All Blacks at international level – including Aaron Smith, Sam Whitelock, Brodie Retallick and Dane Coles, while the future is unknown for Beauden Barrett, Richie Mounga and Ardie Savea. Add to that it’s the final Test for Ian Foster as coach so emotions will be high however it pans out.

What they’re saying

Jason Ryan, NZ assistant coach: “This contest is going to be a title fight. “It’s going to be huge and accuracy and momentum shifts are a big part of it. Momentum shifts will swing and they can swing really quickly, the scoreboard can change quickly.  Both teams can score and get momentum so being accurate around the park is quite an important one.”

Felix Jones, South Africa assistant: “[With the introduction of Joe (Schmidt) and Jason Ryan, there have been many good developments in [New Zealand’s] game. Not just one area, if I had to highlight one I would say the ruck, it has been excellent. They do appear to be a very complete team. There has been development in their kicking game. The way they put you under pressure, not only with their passing game but their ability to also to use the ball off of their foot.”


New Zealand: Team expected to be named at 3.30am AEDT Friday.

South Africa: Team expected to be named at 7pm AEDT Thursday.

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