The Rugby World Cup, the third biggest sporting event in the world after the Olympics and Football’s World Cup, is almost upon us. Form for club and country will be avidly followed in the build up to the kick off for clues as to who might lift the trophy on October 31st. To get you started the LineoutCoach team bring you a quick guide to the Rugby World Cup, featuring all the facts and figures you will need.
What is the Rugby World Cup?
Since 1987 the best rugby teams in the world have met to compete for the Webb Ellis Trophy, named in honour of the man who invented the game. There are annual international tournaments, the Six Nations and Rugby Championship among them, but the Rugby World Cup which is held every four years is the top prize in the sport.
In its 28 year history there have been four different champions and it has provided a stage for some of the best names in the game to leave their mark on the sport. Jonny Wilkinson’s drop goal to give England the title in the dying seconds in 2003 or Francois Pienaar being awarded the trophy by South Africa President, Nelson Mandela in front of a packed Ellis Park Stadium, are just some of the iconic moments that have come from this great tournament.
As rugby continues to evolve, the pride in wearing the national jersey and competing for your country at the very highest level will never diminish. It’s a privilege the players who will compete in the tournament are about to discover.
Where does RWC2015 take place?
England host the tournament for the second time and 13 venues have been selected to host games over the six weeks. From north to south, with a little detour into Wales, the event will reach a wide, and what is anticipated to be a record breaking audience in the stadiums for rugby events. The expected demand for tickets lead the organisers to choose football venues over historic rugby grounds like Leicester Tigers’ Welford Road, which lost out to the larger capacity King Power Stadium, home to Leicester Football team.
List of Rugby World Cup venues:
Amex Stadium – 30,750 (Brighton)
Elland Road – 37,914 (Leeds)
Etihad Stadium – 47,800 (Manchester)
King Power Stadium – 32,312 (Leicester)
Kingsholm – 16,115 (Gloucester)
Millennium Stadium – 74,154 (Cardiff)
Olympic Stadium – 54,000 (London)
Sandy Park – 12,300 (Exeter)
St James’ Park – 52,409 (Newcastle)
Stadium MK – 30,717 (Milton Keynes)
Twickenham – 81,605 (London)
Villa Park – 42,785 (Birmingham)
Wembley – 90,256 (London)
If you really want to be prepared the 12 venues for Japan’s RWC2019 were just announced!
— World Rugby (@WorldRugby) March 2, 2015
Which teams compete in the RWC?
There are 20 teams in 4 pools with the top two teams in each progressing to the quarterfinals. Based on World rankings and qualification tournaments it brings together the top teams with the best emerging nations who are looking to develop.
Rugby World Cup 2015 Teams: Argentina, Australia, Canada, England, Fiji, France, Georgia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Namibia, New Zealand, Romania, Samoa, Scotland, South Africa, Tonga, Uruguay, USA, Wales.
Pool A: Australia, England, Wales, Fiji, Uruguay
The first pool features previous winners Australia and England, with a Welsh side that made the semi-finals in RWC2011. Fiji and Uruguay, while not expected to progress, will have a big say on who gets out of this group.
Host countries traditionally do well so England will hope that the promise they have shown will progress to the next stage but the pressure will be on them to get out of a tough group. Australia have had their problems on and off the pitch in recent times. It is hoped under new Coach, Michael Cheika, the Wallabies can find their form again but with so few games at the helm, before the World Cup, it may be a tall order for the Super 15 Championship winning Warratah’s coach.
Four years on from their semi-final loss to France, Wales will be hoping to be buoyed on by their home fans at the Millennium Stadium where they play two of their pool games.
Pool B: South Africa, Samoa, Japan, Scotland, USA
Two time champions and currently second in the world rankings, the South African side should progress but who will progress with them? With Samoa (9th), Scotland (10th) and Japan (11th) in the rankings respectively and the USA 16th and on the rise, the second spot is more open than in other groups.
South Africa are expected to feature some of the most exciting new players in the game like Eben Etzebeth and Willie Le Roux as well as seasoned pros like Victor Matfield and Bismarck Du Plessis. Scotland are also a team in transition but will be keen to turn that promise into points on English soil.
Pool C: New Zealand, Argentina, Tonga, Georgia, Namibia
New Zealand, two time champs and the No 1 team in the World for over 5 years, will be looking to make a strong start. Argentina, now regulars in the Rugby Championship, should have enough to see off the challenge of Tonga and Georgia. Namibia are very much under dogs and are still seeking their first RWC win.
Pool D: France, Ireland, Italy, Canada, Romania
No previous winners in this group but could the on-form Irish under Joe Schmidt, now no 3 in the World, really mount a challenge so close to home? France would be the most likely side to progress with the Irish but with Phillipe Saint Andre’s wide ranging selection policy (over 80 players chosen under his leadership) and the team’s erratic form, don’t rule out the passion of fellow Six Nations side Italy carrying them forward. Canada and Romania will look to build on impressive outings as their development at the highest level of the game continues.
What is the Rugby World Cup 2015 schedule
— The RPA (@theRPA) March 2, 2015
Kicking off on Friday September 18th at Twickenham with England v Fiji, the pool games run over 24 days, with the World Cup Final on October 31st.
Sat Sep 19 (Pool C) Tonga v Georgia Kingsholm Stadium
Sat Sep 19 (Pool D) Ireland v Canada Millennium Stadium
Sat Sep 19 (Pool B) South Africa v Japan Brighton Community Stadium
Sat Sep 19 (Pool D) France v Italy Twickenham Stadium
Sun Sep 20 (Pool B) Samoa v USA Brighton Community Stadium
Sun Sep 20 (Pool C) New Zealand v Argentina Wembley Stadium
Sun Sep 20 (Pool A) Wales v Uruguay Millennium Stadium
Wed Sep 23 (Pool B) Scotland v Japan Kingsholm Stadium
Wed Sep 23 (Pool A) Australia v Fiji Millennium Stadium
Wed Sep 23 (Pool D) France v Romania Olympic Stadium
Thu Sep 24 (Pool C) New Zealand v Namibia Olympic Stadium
Fri Sep 25 (Pool C) Argentina v Georgia Kingsholm Stadium
Sat Sep 26 (Pool D) Italy v Canada Elland Road
Sat Sep 26 (Pool B) South Africa v Samoa Villa Park
Sat Sep 26 (Pool A) England v Wales Twickenham Stadium
Sun Sep 27 (Pool A) Australia v Uruguay Villa Park
Sun Sep 27 (Pool B) Scotland v USA Elland Road
Sun Sep 27 (Pool D) Ireland v Romania Wembley Stadium
Tue Sep 29 (Pool C) Tonga v Namibia Sandy Park
Thu Oct 1 (Pool D) France v Canada stadiummk
Thu Oct 1 (Pool A) Wales v Fiji Millennium Stadium
Fri Oct 2 (Pool C) New Zealand v Georgia Millennium Stadium
Sat Oct 3 (Pool B) Samoa v Japan stadiummk
Sat Oct 3 (Pool B) South Africa v Scotland St James’ Park
Sat Oct 3 (Pool A) England v Australia Twickenham Stadium
Sun Oct 4 (Pool C) Argentina v Tonga Leicester City Stadium
Sun Oct 4 (Pool D) Ireland v Italy Olympic Stadium
Tue Oct 6 (Pool D) Canada v Romania Leicester City Stadium
Tue Oct 6 (Pool A) Fiji v Uruguay stadiummk
Wed Oct 7 (Pool C) Namibia v Georgia Sandy Park
Wed Oct 7 (Pool B) South Africa v USA Olympic Stadium
Fri Oct 9 (Pool C) New Zealand v Tonga St James’ Park
Sat Oct 10 (Pool B) Samoa v Scotland St James’ Park
Sat Oct 10 (Pool A) Australia v Wales Twickenham Stadium
Sat Oct 10 (Pool A) England v Uruguay Manchester City Stadium
Sun Oct 11 (Pool D) Italy v Romania Sandy Park
Sun Oct 11 (Pool B) USA v Japan Kingsholm Stadium
Sun Oct 11 (Pool C) Argentina v Namibia Leicester City Stadium
Sun Oct 11 (Pool D) France v Ireland Millennium Stadium
The knock out rounds start with the quarterfinals held over the weekend of 17th & 18th October and culminating with the final at the ‘Home of Rugby’, Twickenham on the 31st. Should any game end in a draw, it goes to extra time, then first to score and finally a kicking contest.
Sat Oct 17 Quarter-Final 1: Winner Pool C v Runner-Up Pool D Millennium Stadium
Sat Oct 17 Quarter-Final 2: Winner Pool B v Runner-Up Pool A Twickenham Stadium
Sun Oct 18 Quarter-Final 3: Winner Pool D v Runner-Up Pool C Millennium Stadium
Sun Oct 18 Quarter-Final 4: Winner Pool A v Runner-Up Pool B Twickenham Stadium
Sat Oct 24 Semi-Final 1: Winner QF1 v W QF2 Twickenham Stadium
Sun Oct 25 Semi-Final 2: Winner QF3 v W QF4 Twickenham Stadium
Fri Oct 30 Bronze Final Olympic Stadium
Sat Oct 31 Final Twickenham Stadium
Who are favourites to win?
— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) March 1, 2015
To win you have to first progress from your group and the pools are not all easy to predict. During the knock out stages you have 80 minutes to beat the other team and sport loves to throw up surprises as the tournament has shown previously. A case can be made for many of the teams based on form, history, and fate.
Rankings would suggest the All Blacks will win but with no team ever successfully defending their title and with New Zealand winning both their Rugby World Cup titles on home soil it would be an historic achievement for the team many claim are the best the game has ever seen.
As hosts, England must be considered contenders as three of the seven titles have gone to host nations. Stuart Lancaster has been building towards this event and his team have shown they can challenge the Southern Hemisphere dominance when they beat New Zealand in 2012, ending the All Blacks’ unbeaten streak.
Of the Northern Hemisphere teams, Ireland have the greatest momentum going into RWC year with, at time of writing a 10 match unbeaten record, a number of their victories have come against top teams in the Autumn Internationals and current 6 Nations. A Kiwi could lift the trophy, but could he be the coach of Ireland?
Coming off the back of guiding the Lions Series win in 2013, could another kiwi, Warren Gatland help put Wales’ name on the trophy. A country who has given so many great names to the game must surely one day leave their mark on the cup.
France and Australia are regulars in the final stages of the tournament and you can never rule out another run from one of these talented if frustratingly inconsistent teams.
LineoutCoach will be featuring teams, coaches and players over the coming months so check back regularly for updates as the anticipation builds. We have been privileged to speak to many of those competing in the tournament for our book which is due to be published ahead of the Rugby World Cup and I look forward to seeing them put their words into action.
Gavin Hickie, USA Rugby Collegiate All-Americans Forwards Coach, is a former Ireland A & 7s, Leinster and Leicester rugby player now Head Coach of Dartmouth Rugby. He writes for RugbyToday.com and other publications when not coaching and blogging on lineoutcoach.com