Rugby World Cup guide

Rugby World cup moments, players and interesting facts Discuss this article

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The Rugby World Cup is a major event on the sporting calendar. Coming round only once every four years, the anticipation is rife for rugby supporters across the globe. This year it is being held in England, winners of the World Cup in 2003. There’s a lot of history associated with the event and many players to watch out for.
Here’s our pick of facts, stats and interesting snippets.

Random facts
• Most teams actually qualify for the Rugby World Cup four years early. Of the four groups, the teams that finish in the top three of each group in the previous World Cup qualify automatically for the next tournament.

• Although the 2015 Rugby World Cup is being hosted by England, the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales, is also one of the grounds used. This is due to its capacity, facilities and location.

• Technically, before the first Rugby World Cup was competed in 1987, a reigning rugby champion was the USA – a country not known for being associated with the sport. Their team had won the gold medal at the 1924 Olympics.

• The 2003 Rugby World Cup had an audience in excess of 3.5 billion people and was broadcast in 205 countries around the world.

• A defending champion has never successfully retained the trophy. Will New Zealand break this trend?

• Only one northern hemisphere country has ever won the World Cup, with England claiming the spoils in 2003.

Top 5 moments in World Cup history
5. Australia beats Namibia 142-0. In the 2003 World Cup, Namibia was the unfortunate recipient of a thrashing by the Wallabies when 22 tries were scored. More history was made in this game, as full back Chris Latham became the first Australian to score five tries in a test.

4. Ireland beats Australia. In the 2007 World Cup, Australia was shocked at the group stages when two kicks from Ireland’s Jonnie Sexton, two from Ronan O’Gara and a drop goal from Sexton, along with an excellent all-round performance, was enough to comfortably beat the Australians, 15 to six.

3. Jonah Lomu in beast mode. The most memorable individual performance comes from All Blacks star Lomu at the expense of England in the 1995 World Cup. He scored four tries in the match as he ploughed through England’s players. This isn’t the only time a player scored four tries in this World Cup – Chester Williams managed it for South Africa against Western Samoa.

2. That drop goal. It’s the World Cup final in 2003, played in Australia, and it’s extra time, with 15 seconds left on the clock and the score at 17-17 between the hosts and England. Jonny Wilkinson, the fly half, is composed, waiting, prepared and ready. He’s going to go for a drop goal. Matt Dawson collects the ball, throws it inch perfect to him, and the rest is history.

1. Mandela presents the trophy to Pienaar. When Nelson Mandela came out to present the trophy to Springboks captain Francios Pienaar after the 1995 World Cup final, hosted in South Africa, something incredible happened. Rugby was always typically associated with being a white man’s game in the country, yet Mandela came out wearing the team’s jersey, with Pienaar’s number 6 on his back, making it clear he was the president for all South Africans. This was later made into the movie Invictus. Mandela and Pienaar remained great friends until Mandela passed away.

Players to watch in 2015

Frédéric Michalak (France)
The legendary fly-half, who has also played scrum-half in the past, recently became France’s all-time leading point scorer in a World Cup warm-up match against England, scoring a staggering 394 points through-kicks and tries in 73 appearances (at the time of writing).

Sam Warburton (Wales)
With talismanic player Leigh Halfpenny ruled out of the World Cup with ruptured knee ligaments, other senior players will have to stand up and do him proud. Flanker and team captain Sam Warburton will be an imperatively important presence, as the Cardiff Blues player needs to be at his best both offensively and defensively.

Adam Ashley Cooper (Australia)
With 108 caps to his name, this veteran is a utility player who can play at centre, wing or fullback. The 31-year-old recently signed for Bordeaux and is the most capped player in the Australian squad.

Jonathan Sexton (Ireland)
This is where most of Ireland’s points will come from. The Leinster man has 53 caps to his name and if Sexton is not on form, Ireland could struggle.

Dan Carter (New Zealand)
Carter’s position is as the All Blacks’ fly half, a trusted kicker with 106 caps to his name.

Sergio Parisse (Italy)
Italian team captain Sergio Parisse has been an integral part of improving the rep of his team. The Argentinian-born number eight is widely regarded as one of the greatest in this position, especially adept at breaking through opponents’ back line with brute strength.

Marcos Ayerza (Argentina)
The Leicester Tigers man plays loose-head-prop, ensuring that the scrums go their way, as well as being a beast in the forward line. Argentina has a good team, and his strength will come in handy.

Mike Brown (England)
A rock at the back, Brown is one of the first names on the team sheet. The Harlequins full-back is the last line of defence and has saved England many points over his career.

Watch the action

Where better to catch your favourite match(es) than at the island’s very own Bahrain Rugby Football Club, based in Saar.
www.bahrainrfc.net (1769 5809).

By Patrick Hulbert
Time Out Bahrain,

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