Quarter-Final Preview: England v Fiji

Quarter-Final Preview: England v Fiji

Fiji return to the quarter-final stage for the first time since 2007, and the same ground where – 16 years ago – they gave eventual champions South Africa an almighty scare in their last-eight match, coming back from 20-6 down to briefly level the scores in the last quarter, before the Springboks pulled away.

Head coach Simon Raiwalui has made five changes to his starting XV that suffered that one-point loss against Portugal in Toulouse last week. 

Tevita Ikanivere earns his first Rugby World Cup start after four outings off the bench, Albert Tuisue starts for the first time since the opening round loss against Wales, and Lekima Tagitagivalu – who made a team high 16 tackles against England in August – returns to the back-row after missing last week’s loss. 

Semi Radradra starts on the left wing, with Vinaya Habosi switching to the right, and Ilaisa Droasese returns to full-back after missing last week.  

Like their opponents this Saturday, England were in Marseille at this stage 16 years ago. Then, Jonny Wilkinson kicked the then-defending champions to victory against Australia. They went on to meet France in the semi-final – a fixture that could be repeated in 2023 if both sides win their respective matches this weekend.

Head coach Steve Borthwick has made two personnel changes and four positional changes from the starting XV who narrowly beat Samoa in their last game. Captain Owen Farrell returns to fly-half for the sixth time this year, and the first time he has started alongside Alex Mitchell at half-back.

Elliot Daly returns to the left-wing after playing at outside centre against Chile, with Jonny May switching to the right-wing for the third time this year. Joe Marchant moves from right-wing to outside-centre and resumes his midfield partnership with Manu Tuilagi. And Marcus Smith starts at full-back for only the second time in his test career.

FIXTURE: England v Fiji

GROUND: Stade de Marseille (67,847)

KICK-OFF: 17:00 local time (GMT+2)


This will be the ninth meeting between the two sides – and the second in a matter of months. England have won seven of the previous eight encounters. But English fans may want to forget the last one...


No need for long memories to recall a notable meeting between these two sides. At the end of August, Fiji scored three second-half tries at Twickenham en route to a 30-22 win, their first ever against England. It was a fifth loss in six games for Borthwick’s side, and had many wondering how far the 2003 champions would go in the 2023 tournament. And the Fiji squad for Saturday's quarter-final looks familiar, it's because 10 of the starting side in Marseille also started against England a few weeks ago.


Fiji’s up-and-down form in the tournament so far. They came within a late knock-on of a thrilling comeback win against Wales in the opening round of matches, and were fantastic in victory over Australia. But they struggled to get the better of Georgia, and lost to an effervescent Portugal in the match of the tournament so far. Will they be able to up their game again here, against England?


Manu Tuilagi v Josua Tuisova. No quarter will be given, or expected, in midfield as the two powerhouse centres go up against one another. 


England have won 64 percent of their test matches when Owen Farrell has started at fly-half, compared to 74 percent when he has started at inside-centre.


Mathieu Raynal (France). This is the second time Raynal has refereed a match involving England at Rugby World Cup 2023. He took charge of their opening pool game against Argentina, and showed the first red card of the tournament to flanker Tom Curry.


ENGLAND Marcus Smith; Jonny May, Joe Marchant, Manu Tuilagi, Elliot Daly; Owen Farrell (captain), Alex Mitchell; Ellis Genge, Jamie George, Dan Cole; Maro Itoje, Ollie Chessum; Courtney Lawes, Tom Curry, Ben Earl

Replacements: Theo Dan, Joe Marler, Kyle Sinckler, George Martin, Billy Vunipola, Danny Care, George Ford, Ollie Lawrence

FIJI Ilaisa Droasese; Vinaya Habosi, Waisea Nayacalevu (captain), Josua Tuisova, Semi Radradra; Vilimoni Botitu, Frank Lomani; Eroni Mawi, Tevita Ikanivere, Luke Tagi; Isoa Nasilasila, Albert Tuisue; Lekima Tagitagivalu, Levani Botia, Viliame Mata 

Replacements: Samuel Matavesi, Peni Ravai, Mesake Doge, Meli Derenalagi, Vilive Miramira, Simione Kuruvoli, Iosefo Masi, Sireli Maqala

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