Rugby World Cup 2015: England ready to kick-start World Cup

England captain Chris Robshaw (far right) with Courtney Lawes and Joe Launchbury
The World Cup runs until 31 October and will be played in stadiums across England and at the Millernnium Stadium in Cardiff
Rugby World Cup
Hosts: England Dates: 18 September-31 October
Coverage: Live on BBC Radio 5 live and sports extra, BBC local radio, plus live text commentary on every match on the BBC Sport website.
Further coverage: BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru, BBC Radio Scotland, BBC Radio Ulster and BBC Local Radio.

England will kick off the eighth Rugby World Cup on Friday when they take on Fiji at Twickenham (20:00 BST).

The hosts are aiming to repeat their success of 2003, when Jonny Wilkinson's dramatic drop-goal saw them become champions for the only time.

About 2.3 million of the 2.45 million tickets have been sold for 48 games.

New Zealand are defending champions, Wales are in a competitive pool with England and Australia, while Ireland and Scotland also hope to progress.

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Rugby World Cup 2015 schedule
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In addition to fourth-ranked England and fifth-ranked Wales, who meet in a hugely important match on the second weekend of the tournament, Pool A contains two more sides in the top nine of the world rankings - second-placed Australia and Fiji.

The 20-team World Cup, which runs until 31 October, will take place in stadiums across England and at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.

Rugby World Cup venues
North: St James' Park (Newcastle), Elland Road (Leeds), Etihad Stadium (Manchester) Midlands: King Power Stadium (Leicester), Villa Park (Birmingham)
Wales & South West: Millennium Stadium (Cardiff), Kingsholm (Gloucester), Sandy Park (Exeter)London & South: Twickenham, Wembley Stadium, Olympic Stadium, Stadium MK (Milton Keynes), Brighton Community Stadium

Eight of the 13 venues are football stadiums, while Twickenham, the Millennium Stadium, Gloucester's Kingsholm and Exeter's Sandy Park are the traditional rugby grounds to host matches.

With Wembley and the Olympic Stadium also World Cup venues, 17 games will take place in London.

The billion pound tournament

Global governing body World Rugby says almost 500,000 overseas fans are expected to visit England and Wales during the tournament, with the World Cup bringing £1bn to the economy.

A total of 102 nations entered the tournament, which will be broadcast to 772 million households - 15% up on 2011 - with games being shown live in both Germany and China for the first time.

New Zealand
Though the 1999 World Cup was hosted by Wales, New Zealand played four matches in England

Reigning champions New Zealand go into the tournament as favourites, with England, South Africa and Australia - all former champions - among those tipped to do well.

Ireland, France and Wales have also been touted as potential winners, although one of England, Wales or Australia will fail to reach the last eight as they are in the same pool.

World's best set to shine

The tournament was last hosted by England in 1991, when an Australia team containing legends such as David Campese beat Will Carling's England 12-6 in the final.

The last time the World Cup was held in Britain was in 1999, when Wales were hosts and Australia were once again crowned champions, beating France in the final at the Millennium Stadium.

Potential stars of the Rugby World Cup

Among the stars set to grace England over the next six weeks is the most capped player in the history of the game, Richie McCaw.

The 142-cap New Zealand captain, who led the All Blacks to victory four years ago, will be joined by Dan Carter, the all-time leading Test points scorer.

England and Wales are captained by open-side flankers in Chris Robshaw and Sam Warburton, Scotland will be led by scrum-half Greig Laidlaw and Ireland have iconic second row Paul O'Connell as their skipper.

As Six Nations champions for the past two years, Ireland are fancied to top a group that also includes France and progress beyond the quarter-finals for the first time, while Scotland may need to beat Samoa in their final pool game to reach the last eight.

Wales wing George North and England counterpart Anthony Watson could dazzle on the world stage, while Ireland's Johnny Sexton is one of the world's best fly-halves, an accolade 22-year-old England player George Ford could claim for himself over the next six weeks.

New Zealand wing Julian Savea, Wales wing George North and Fiji back Nemani Nadolo
New Zealand wing Julian Savea, Wales wing George North and Fiji back Nemani Nadolo will be terrifying defences around England for the next few weeks

Other stars set to light up the tournament include Australia full-back Israel Folau, South Africa lock Eben Etzebeth, New Zealand's Brodie Retallick and Julian Savea, and Italy captain Sergio Parisse, provided he recovers from injury.

You can follow the World Cup on BBC Radio and online, with the BBC Sport website providing live text commentary on all the 48 matches. You can also get World Cup alerts direct to your phone.

World Cup roll of honour
1987New ZealandNew Zealand
1995South AfricaSouth Africa
2007FranceSouth Africa
2011New ZealandNew Zealand
Rugby World Cup on the BBC
BBC Radio will be the only place to hear commentary of matches in full. More details here.
The best of the action will be broadcast across BBC Radio 5 live, 5 live sports extra, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru, BBC Radio Scotland, BBC Radio Ulster and BBC Local Radio
All commentary streamed via the BBC Sport website, BBC Sport app and BBC iPlayer Radio app

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