September 2015 sees England play host to the Rugby World Cup, with 20 of the world’s top national sides set to do battle for the Webb Ellis Cup.
It is four long years since New Zealand were crowned World Champions, following their dramatic one-point victory over France in the Rugby World Cup Final in 2011. New Zealand were hosts last time around and England will be hoping to emulate their success by also making the most of their home advantage.
The Rugby World Cup began in 1987. England won the trophy in 2003—and they remain the only Northern Hemisphere nation to have done so. With the tournament regularly moving around the globe, it would appear that home advantage can only take you so far.
That fact will not will deter the large partisan crowds expected at this year’s tournaments from trying to roar their team home to victory. Ticket sales have been brisk, with record numbers showing a real appetite for the sport.
Phil Vickery was a member of the 2003 winning side. He told The Guardian recently that, although England did not play particularly well throughout the tournament, “We were just a team that knew how to win and that, in a tournament unlike any other—which has a pressure all of its own, is what matters.”
Momentum was key in England’s triumph back then—and having been handed a particularly difficult pool to navigate through in this year’s World Cup, it could be a deciding factor once again. Heavyweights Australia and Wales, and then Fiji and Uruguay create a tough task—at least one good team will be left behind.
The Webb Ellis Cup itself has been on a whistle-stop tour of the 20 competing nations over the last 12 months. In May, it arrived in France for its last short stop-off before it touches down in the host nation. Once in England, the Cup will be taken on a 100 day showcase tour prior to the tournament.
The hope for millions of England fans is that it stays here a lot longer than those 100 days.
The action starts on 18th September 2015 when England face Fiji at Twickenham.
Rugby World Cup 2015 pools:
POOL A: Australia, England, Wales, Fiji, Uruguay
POOL B: South Africa, Samoa, Japan, Scotland, USA
POOL C: New Zealand, Argentina, Tonga, Georgia, Namibia
POOL D: France, Ireland, Italy, Canada, Romania
Rugby World Cup 2015 venues: Twickenham Stadium (London), Wembley Stadium (London), Olympic Stadium (London), Millennium Stadium (Cardiff), Manchester City Etihad Stadium (Manchester), St James’ Park (Newcastle), Elland Road (Leeds), Leicester City Stadium (Leicester), Villa Park (Birmingham), Kingsholm Stadium (Gloucester), Stadium-MK (Milton Keynes), Brighton Community Stadium (Brighton) and Sandy Park (Exeter)