The Rugby World Cup is almost upon us

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The Rugby World Cup is almost upon us


England have a habit of performing badly on the big stages, i.e. FIFA World Cups or the Ashes, Cricket World Cup and even some years at Wimbledon. However there’s always one sport where we seem to perform on the bigger stage more often than not, and that is Rugby.


Time and again the England team has roared to victory or done very well. At one time, we were the best rugby nation on the planet, and hopefully this England squad will look to do the same in September.


In 1987 the infamous All Blacks (New Zealand) were the very first winners of the competition, as they beat France.


England hosted the tournament four years later in 1991 and reached the final, but were defeated by our friendly rivals the Australians. England have always had a close relationship with the Aussies, although it’s not a fierce rivalry it’s more of a friendly one. Play the game and then have a pint in a pub kind of thing. It isn’t in the same mould as if England beat the French or Germans.


The 1995 tournament was very special as it saw the end of apartheid in South Africa who hosted and won the tournament. The most memorable thing about that tournament was when, then President of South Africa Nelson Mandela wearing a Springbok shirt, handed the trophy over to a white player, it brought one nation together, and is a famous historic moment.


Then the pinnacle happened, because in 2003, the year no England Rugby fan will ever forget. It was the year England beat Australia in the final and were crowned champions of the world. It was the biggest celebration of a sporting achievement in England since the national football team had won the FIFA World Cup in 1966.


England- Pool A


How could England do in the 2015 World Cup I hear you ask, well the honest truth is they are in a group that has two other teams in the top six ranked teams in the world. Wales and Australia who have exceptional talent in their squad. There is a suggestion that England’s young guns could crack under the pressure however they did prove in the six nations the team does have plenty of steal. George Ford will be crucial to England’s rugby world cup chances, and other key figures in the side will have to come to the fore. If all goes well, England fans could be celebrating once again.


Prediction- Runners Up


Australia- Pool A


The Australians will be looking to beat England in their own back yard, the Aussies have a number of players who can hurt England especially going forward. The Aussies like to play a quick and precise game, they aren’t the biggest team but will look to progress through pace. Depending on their quick attacks if they come off and their ability to defend properly, something not always shown by the Aussies. It could be a long road to the final for them.


Prediction- Quarter Final


Wales- Pool A


Wales are very different, with a big strong pack and one that can move forward not with speed but with sheer strength, the defence will be the key for this welsh team. They still have a number of experienced players in their squad. A number of key injuries and fitness worries may hold Warren Gatland’s men back. Leigh Halfpenny will be one player that Wales will desperately be relying on, to kick them all the way to the final. With so much depending on too many players that can have off days it might by too much for them. The side may have a few surprises up their sleeve but this is poor Wales side compared to previous years.


Prediction- Group Stage


South Africa- Pool B


A team that have always tried to do well on the big stage, in recent years it was thought there might be cracks in the team, not performing to the heights they once did. It will be a tough tournament for the Springbok, however they are in an easy group and possibly could go to the latter of the competition.


Prediction- Quarter Final/Semi Final


New Zealand- Pool C


The current holders of the World Cup and a team that no one can see being beaten. They have had a few slip ups in recent years, however this is one of the best New Zealand teams for a while. Pace, power and will to win, will surly pose too much for the other teams.


Prediction- Winners


And Finally….


Ireland- Pool D


Joe Schmidt’s side have moved up to No3 in World Rugby’s rankings, and are back to back Six Nations winners. Now though will be their toughest test, can they become the Champions of the world. A lot of what Ireland will do will depend on how Jonathan Sexton’s form and fitness is, one of the best players ever to pull on the proud green shirt of Ireland, one can only imagine the scenes in the country if they do win the world cup.


Prediction- Semi Final’s


Other teams to look out for


France- Pool D


One of those most unpredictable of creatures, a team that can perform like world beaters in one 10 minute spell then just fall to bits as easily in the next 10 minutes. The French team have plenty of talent but never use it, it’s like a French chief cooking a brilliant meal but it turning up at the table stone cold. Unfortunately a lot of what France will do in this tournament will depend on how they feel on the day. They could be like a Crème Brule or a sponge pudding. I don’t think there’s any need to panic in terms of them getting out of the group but after that who knows.


Georgia- Pool C


If you asked the Georgia team to tackle a brick wall they probably would, they have a fantastic amount of strength in the pack and will look to use it in the tournament. Although they aren’t the most skilful, what they will do is batter teams into submission. When watching Georgia’s games, you may need to sit behind the couch as the crunch from the tackles will certainly be heard. Despite all I’ve said, Georgia could actually do very well in the competition.


This could be one of the most exciting World Cups for a while.

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