Mako Vunipola Rugby World Cup 2019: Team of the pool stage featuring Michael Leitch and Semi Radradra

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Forty fascinating matches are in the bag at the 2019 Rugby World Cup, meaning the pool stage is complete and the eight quarter-finalists are now known.

But they are certainly not the quarter-finalists most fans would’ve predicted at the start of the tournament, thanks to Japan’s incredible unbeaten run in the competition to beat both Ireland and Scotland and end up on top in Pool A.

The Irish ensured they will be joining Japan in the last eight thanks to their opening-weekend victory over Scotland, who despite pre-tournament hopes of a successful campaign find themselves going home early.

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The same could not be said about Pool B, where expectation shone through as New Zealand and South Africa emerged unscathed from a group that also contained Italy, Namibia and Canada. However, the pool finished prematurely, as Italy’s final attempt to qualify for the knockout stage at the All Blacks’ expense was scuppered by Typhoon Hagibis as their final match was cancelled.

Pool C was also impacted by the horrendous conditions across the final weekend, with England and France’s showdown for top spot cancelled to secure Eddie Jones’s side a safe passage through as pool winners. By that point though, it was already too late for Argentina, who exited the tournament at the pool stage for the first time since 2003.

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