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Twickenham stadium

The waiting is almost over as the 2015 Rugby World Cup is set to begin on September 18th.

Returning to the British Isles for the first time since 1991, all eyes will be on home nation England and whether they can rekindle the spirit of 2003 and win the trophy on their own soil. A lot is expected of defending champions New Zealand who are looking to become the first-ever nation to win back-to-back World Cups.

From London to Cardiff, Newcastle to Exeter, England will become the home of rugby for over a month with almost 50 games taking place throughout the tournament and spread across the country. The draw has already thrown up some truly fascinating ties which will get the fans' pulses racing.

Pool A sees heavyweights England, Wales and Australia battle for top spot while Pool B sees Scotland face up to a formidable South Africa side. Pool C sees New Zealand face tests against Argentina and Tonga while Pool D has a Six Nations feel to it with Ireland, France and Italy all doing battle.

It's all set up for a truly memorable tournament of top class rugby; let's take a more in-depth look at how it may all pan out.

Can anyone stop New Zealand?

Reigning champions New Zealand have been installed as early favourites to win the World Cup, and it is easy to see why. The All Blacks have been in truly scintillating form since winning the competition four years ago. Since that victory over France on October 23rd, 2011, New Zealand have lost just three competitive matches.

Seemingly sweeping all before them they recently saw off spirited tests from England, Scotland and Wales during the Autumn Internationals. The All Blacks have also been handed a seemingly favourable group alongside Argentina, Tonga, Georgia and Namibia.

None of these teams have ever managed a win against the world champions and this is expected to continue as New Zealand coast through to the knockout stages where they could face either England, Australia or Wales, which could provide a much sterner test.

However, if the likes of Richie McCaw, Julian Savea and Waisake Naholo are on form then the Webb Ellis Trophy could be returning to Auckland.

Who can challenge the world champions?

While New Zealand are expected to waltz into England and take the World Cup back down under, there will be a number of teams standing in their way - none more so than the hosts themselves.

Under head coach Stuart Lancaster, England are making great strides and will be desperate to win the World Cup in front of their home crowd. Narrowly beaten in the Six Nations by Ireland, England performed well in their warm-up games and will be hoping to hit the ground running when the tournament gets underway.

Much is expected from centre Jonathan Joseph and fly-half George Ford who excelled during the Six Nations finishing as the top try and points scorer respectively. Standing in their way at the group stages are Wales and Australia and advancing to the knockout phases will be an achievement in itself.

Both the Aussies and the Red Dragons will fancy their chances, while you can simply not rule out both South Africa and Ireland. The latter are riding the est of a wave following their Six Nations win and will hope to carry that momentum into the World Cup.

Celebration of rugby in England

The 2015 Rugby World Cup is set to be a major celebration across England with fans already snapping up tickets with anticipation. While traditional rugby stadiums such as Twickenham, Sandy Park, Kingsholm Stadium and the Millennium Stadium are being used, a host of football stadiums, as well as the renovated Olympic Stadium, will be game venues.

With over a month of rugby to savour, there is plenty to look forward once it gets underway on September 18th.



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