Rugby World Cup Pool D Preview: Squads, fixtures, star players and more

 Credit: Alamy
Credit: Alamy

Rugby World Cup Pool D pits England, Japan, Argentina, Samoa and Chile against one another as they battle it out for a place in the knockouts.

Ahead of the tenth edition of the Rugby World Cup, Planet Rugby is previewing each of the groups with this the final one that we delve into.

England – World ranking: 8

Nickname: Red Rose
Head coach: Steve Borthwick
Captain: Owen Farrell

Forwards: Ollie Chessum, Dan Cole, Tom Curry, Theo Dan, Ben Earl, Ellis Genge, Jamie George, Maro Itoje, Courtney Lawes, Lewis Ludlam, Joe Marler, George Martin, David Ribbans, Bevan Rodd, Kyle Sinckler, Will Stuart, Billy Vunipola, Jack Walker, Jack Willis
Backs: Henry Arundell, Danny Care, Elliot Daly, Owen Farrell, George Ford, Ollie Lawrence, Max Malins, Joe Marchant, Jonny May, Alex Mitchell, Marcus Smith, Freddie Steward, Manu Tuilagi, Ben Youngs

Rugby World Cup record: Pl 50, W36, D0 L14, 72% win ratio.
Best Rugby World Cup finish: Champions (2003)

Key Player – Jamie George: As we mentioned in another piece, Farrell is England’s ‘most valuable player’, but he is suspended for the opening two matches. That takes quite a chunk out of the leadership group, which means further pressure goes onto George. Quite frankly, they can’t afford to lose the front-rower, given the inexperience behind him in the pecking order. If they do, we struggle to see them getting past the quarter-finals and potentially the pool stages.

Player to watch – Henry Arundell: If he gets the ball, that is. Despite England’s backline issues, there has been the odd spark from Arudell when he has been able to get onto the field, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him shine in France. The youngster is exceptionally quick, as well as being a well-balanced runner, and will cause opposition problems if Steve Borthwick lets him off the leash.

Japan – World ranking: 14

Nickname: Brave Blossoms
Head coach: Jamie Joseph
Captain: Kazuki Himeno

Forwards: Keita Inagaki, Craig Millar, Sione Halasili, Koo Ji-won, Shinnosuke Kakinaga, Asaeli Ai Valu, Shota Horie, Atsushi Sakate, Kosuke Horikoshi, Jack Cornelsen, Warner Dearns, Amanaki Saumaki, Pieter Labuschagne, Amato Fakatava, Shota Fukui, Kazuki Himeno, Michael Leitch, Ben Gunter, Kanji Shimokawa
Backs: Naoto Saito, Yutaka Nagare, Kenta Fukuda, Lee Seung-sin, Rikiya Matsuda, Jumpei Ogura, Ryoto Nakamura, Tomoki Osada, Dylan Riley, Siosaia Fifita, Semisi Masirewa, Jone Naikabula, Lomano Lemeki, Kotaro Matsushima

Rugby World Cup record: Pl 33, W8, D2, L23, 24% win rate.
Best Rugby World Cup finish: Quarter-Finalists (2019)

Key Player – Kazuki Himeno: Genuinely one of the world’s best back-rows, even if the wider rugby public rarely get to see him play consistently, given Japan’s lack of games against tier-one opposition. A superb carrier who is an absolute nuisance at the breakdown, he is now their captain after taking over from Michael Leitch.

Player to watch – Warner Dearns: An underrated part of the Brave Blossoms game in the last World Cup was their ability to compete up front. Their set-piece was solid, and they controlled the gain line battle pretty well, but that has not been the case recently. At least with Dearns, they have a hefty unit who can compete physically. He was a late addition to the squad following injuries to James Moore and Amato Fakatava, having himself been on the sidelines, but, providing he is match-fit, the 21-year-old could be a star of Japan’s campaign.

Argentina – World ranking: 6

Nickname: Los Pumas
Head coach: Michael Cheika
Captain: Julian Montoya

Forwards: Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, Francisco Gómez Kodela, Joel Sclavi, Thomas Gallo, Eduardo Bello, Julián Montoya, Agustín Creevy, Ignacio Ruiz, Matías Alemanno, Tomás Lavanini, Guido Petti, Facundo Isa, Pablo Matera, Juan Martín González, Santiago Grondona, Marcos Kremer, Pedro Rubiolo, Rodrigo Bruni
Backs: Gonzalo Bertranou, Lautaro Bazán Vélez, Tomás Cubelli, Santiago Carreras, Nicolás Sánchez, Santiago Chocobares, Lucio Cinti, Jerónimo de la Fuente, Matías Moroni, Emiliano Boffelli, Juan Cruz Mallía, Mateo Carreras, Juan Imhoff, Rodrigo Isgró, Martín Bogado

Rugby World Cup record: Pl 41, W 21, D0, L20, 51% win rate.
Best Rugby World Cup finish: 3rd Place (2007)

Key Player – Julian Montoya: Captain fantastic; Montoya is probably Los Pumas’ only player who would compete for a place in a world XV. He is exceptional in both the set-piece and the loose, with his breakdown work particularly excellent.

Player to watch – Thomas Gallo: Another front-rower, this time at prop, as Gallo looks to show the world what he is capable of. There are still concerns around his scrummaging, but in this pool, he won’t be tested as much as he was in the Rugby Championship. That will, therefore, hopefully allow him to flourish around the field, where he can make dents in the opposition rearguard. 

Samoa – World ranking: 12

Nickname: Manu Samoa
Head coach: Seilala Mapusua
Co-Captains: Michael Alaalatoa and Chris Vui

Forwards: Michael Alaalatoa, Brian Alainu’u’ese, Paul Alo-Emile, So’otala Fa’aso’o, Miracle Fai’ilagi, Charlie Faumuina, Seilala Lam, Jordan Lay, James Lay, Fritz Lee, Steven Luatua, Sama Malolo, Theodore McFarland, Alamanda Motuga, Luteru Tolai, Chris Vui, Taleni Seu, Sam Slade, Jordan Taufua
Backs: Nigel Ah Wong, Ereatara Sotiaki Enari, Ed Fidow, Neria Foma’i, Ben Lam, Christian Leali’ifano, Alai D’Angelo Leuila, Tumua Manu, Melani Matavao, Duncan Paia’aua, Ulupano Junior Seuteni, Lima Sopoaga, Jonathan Taumateine, Danny Toala

Rugby World Cup record: Pl 32, W13, D0, L19, 41% win rate.
Best Rugby World Cup finish: Quarter-Finalist (1991, 1995)

Key Player – Theo McFarland: A star for Saracens in the first half of the Premiership campaign, his season was sadly cut short due to injury, but he has thankfully recovered in time to be available for the World Cup. Equally as effective at lock or flanker, McFarland is superb in the lineout but also offers so much around the field. Having had a background in basketball, he is comfortable with ball in hand, while his athleticism allows him to be effective in the wider channels.

Player to watch – Tumua Manu: A hard-running back who can play either centre or on the wing, he could, on the evidence of his performance against Ireland, be one of the stars of the pool stages. Hopefully, the coaches have learned their lesson and keep him in the midfield, as his skills could be a point of difference for the Pacific Islanders.

Chile – World ranking: 22

Nickname: Condores
Head coach: Pablo Lemoine
Captain: Martín Sigren

Forwards: Javier Carrasco, Salvador Lues, Matías Dittus, Iñaki Gurruchaga, Esteban Inostroza, Augusto Bohme, Tomás Dussaillant, Diego Escobar, Javier Eissmann, Pablo Huete, Santiago Pedrero, Augusto Sarmiento, Alfonso Escobar, Raimundo Martínez, Clemente Saavedra, Martín Sigren, Ignacio Silva
Backs: Lukas Carvallo, Marcelo Torrealba, Benjamín Videla, Rodrigo Fernández, Santiago Videla, Pablo Casas, Matías Garafulic, José Ignacio Larenas, Domingo Saavedra, Franco Velarde, Nicolás Garafulic, Iñaki Ayarza, Francisco Urroz

Rugby World Cup record: Pl 0, W0, D0, L0, 0% win rate.
Best Rugby World Cup finish: Debut (2023)

Key Player – Rodrigo Fernandez: Quite comfortably the star of the South Americans’ World Cup qualification campaign. He scored the try of the year in Chile’s first leg against the USA before playing a key role in the away match as they made history. A well-balanced runner blessed with plenty of pace and an excellent skill set, it wouldn’t be a surprise should Fernandez be playing in a top-tier European league after the global tournament.

Player to watch – Raimundo Martínez: A talented back-row who gets his chance on the biggest stage in rugby. He is powerful in the carry and matches those physical capabilities with his tenacity both in and out of possession. He will be key for Chile if they are to get close to their competitors over the next month.

Rugby World Cup Pool D fixtures

Saturday 9 September England v Argentina – 8pm, Stade Vélodrome, Marseille
Sunday 10 September Japan v Chile – 12 pm, Stadium de Toulouse, Toulouse
Saturday 16 September Samoa v Chile – 2 pm, Stade de Bordeaux, Bordeaux
Sunday 17 September England v Japan – 8 pm, Stade de Nice, Nice
Friday 22 September Argentina v Samoa – 4.45pm, Stade Geoffroy Guichard, Saint-Étienne
Saturday 23 September England v Chile – 4.45 pm, Stade Pierre Mauroy, Lille
Thursday 28 September Japan v Samoa – 8 pm, Stadium de Toulouse, Toulouse
Saturday 30 September Argentina v Chile – 2pm, Stade de la Beaujoire, Nantes
Saturday 7 October England v Samoa – 4.45 pm, Stade Pierre Mauroy, Lille
Sunday 8 October Japan v Argentina – 12pm, Stade de la Beaujoire, Nantes

READ MORE: Rugby World Cup Pool C Preview: Squads, fixtures, star players and more

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