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Six Nations - Rugby Union: How the teams are shaping up a year out from the World Cup

Preparations continue for the Six Nations' sides with now one year to go until the start of the World Cup on 8th September 2023.

More will become clearer after the Six Nations early next year but we take a look at how the powerhouses of the northern hemisphere are shaping up for the 2023 World Cup in France.

What

World Cup 2023

Where

France

When

Friday 8th September to Saturday 28th October 2023

How to watch

ITV

Odds

France 5/2, New Zealand 3/1, England 5/1, Ireland 5/1, South Africa 11/2

England with work to do

After finishing in third place in the Six Nations earlier this year, England will be hoping to pick up some form in the build-up to the next World Cup.

The Red Rose managed just two wins over Italy and Wales during the last Six Nations and pressure was starting to mount on head coach Eddie Jones.

However, a summer Test series win away in Australia has brightened up the picture regarding England and now optimism is rising ahead of another crack at the World Cup.

England certainly have one of the most favourable pools at the major tournament as they face Argentina, Japan, Chile and Samoa.

Reaching the quarter-finals should be no issue for England but Jones' side, who are 5/1 to win the World Cup, will need to reach new levels with the current crop of players to make the final for the second successive time.

France deserved favourites

After cruising to the Grand Slam title last season, France are really building something special ahead of the World Cup on home soil.

Les Bleus has shown potential in the past but the 2022 Six Nations really saw this side put a string of strong performances together to end their 12-year wait for the title.

France are understandably favourites again for the Six Nations title next year and find themselves at 5/2 to win a first World Cup.

With the best half-back partnership in the world in the form of Antoine Dupont and Romain Ntamack, France look to have a golden generation on their hands.

Excitement is growing in what this French team can achieve and their opening World Cup pool game against New Zealand at the Stade de France is a mouth-watering contest between two serious title contenders.

Ireland have potential for something special

Irish rugby is also in rude health at present after just missing out on the Six Nations title last season.

A Test series win on New Zealand soil over the summer sent shockwaves through the international rugby stage and now Ireland will be looking to finally deliver at a World Cup.

The Irish have never made it past the quarter-finals at the major tournament but they certainly look capable of that this time around.

With a team of experienced players, this is the last chance for some big names to do something special at a World Cup.

It will most likely be the last tournament for the likes of Jonathan Sexton, Peter O'Mahony, Cian Healy and Conor Murray.

All four players have been great servants to Irish rugby but they will be longing to do something special in France next year, with Ireland at 5/1 for the title.

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Italy must continue progress

Just when Italian rugby looked to be on its knees, the Azzurri produced one of the most remarkable results in Six Nations' history.

Edoardo Padovani scored the historic 79th minute try as Italy came from behind to beat Wales in Cardiff 22-21 in the final round of this year's competition.

Prior to that, more questions were being asked of Italy's role in the Six Nation but that result at the Millennium Stadium buys time for the Azzurri.

In a group with France and New Zealand it will take something even more remarkable again for Italy to reach the knockout stages.

Getting things right in the Six Nations needs to be the priority for Italy, anything positive at the next World Cup is a bonus.

Scotland searching for consistency

Again a lack of consistency was Scotland's undoing at the last Six Nations as they had to settle for fourth spot.

An opening-round win over England was undone by Scotland being their own worst enemy in a 20-17 defeat in Cardiff.

Head coach Gregor Townsend has overseen some big wins during his tenure but getting that level out of his side week after week has been the issue.

If Scotland can keep all their star players fit for the World Cup then they have a chance of making the quarter-finals but it will certainly be an uphill battle with South Africa and Ireland in their pool.

Wales are team in limbo

After one win in the Six Nations last year, it's hard to know how Wales will fare in France next year.

A side that has enjoyed tremendous success in recent years, the team is going through a transitional phase with a changing of the guard.

The likes of Alun Wyn Jones, Dan Lydiate and Dan Biggar are edging closer towards the end of their successful careers.

It's not exactly clear as to who can fill the void when they do hang up their boots, while there is still pressure on head coach Wayne Pivac to deliver results.

We will have a better picture of where Wales stand after the next Six Nations but the price of 20/1 to win the next World Cup highlights where this Welsh side are at right now.

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