The battle for the coveted Webb Ellis Trophy is getting closer and closer. With less than a month to go, the anticipation and excitement levels are on a high. There are currently three nations who have won the rugby world cup on two occasions which is the current record: Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. Without a doubt, all these teams give it their all in the quest for a record third Rugby World Cup triumph.
New Zealand, the current champions of the world are the favourites to win the World Cup again, according to bookies. That will by no means deter their rivals in their mission to reign supreme.
New Zealand’s recent victory over South Africa (27-20) solidifies their status as the No.1 ranked nation in the world.
The top 10 ranked teams in the world (July 2015) are as follows:
1. New Zealand
2. South Africa
Pool A – Known as the Pool of Annihilation, Pool A has four of the top 10 ranked teams which by general consent makes it the most competitive and challenging group. Australia, England, Wales, Fiji and Uruguay will all have to be at their best to qualify from this strenuous group. The hosts England will certainly need more than home advantage to be victorious.
Pool B – The Springboks are the firm favourites to top Pool B, but they’d have to be at their best as Japan, USA, Scotland and Samoa will be looking to cause an upset.
Pool C – The reigning champions New Zealand are the top seed in pool C. They will battle for qualification to the knockout stages with, Argentina, Tonga, Namibia and Georgia.
Pool D – The 6 Nations Champions Ireland will have to prove their mettle as they face France, Italy, Canada, and Romania.
Players to look out for in the upcoming World Cup.
Richie McCaw (New Zealand)
New Zealand captain Richie McCaw, who needs no introduction, will once again be one of the players to look out for in the World Cup. His ability to steal the ball and retain possession has been absolutely incredible.
Julian Savea (New Zealand)
The All Black wing tormented England last season with his decisive and powerful running, just as he has done to every defence since making his debut. A definite superstar
George North (Wales)
A man who gets the crowd on the edge of their seats and the opposition on full alert. North is Wales’ strike weapon, a real threat.
Israel Folau (Australia)
Sport reviewers have labelled this man a triple-code genius, capable of adapting to Aussie Rules, rugby league as well as union. He and North were the draw cards of the Lions tour, vying with each other for the most stunning solo scores. Folau can attack from anywhere.
Kieran Read (New Zealand)
A key man in the New Zealand brain trust, an athletic 8th man, always in the right place and always doing the right things. Alongside Richie McCaw, Read directs operations in New Zealand’s camp .
Gael Fickou (France)
There was a time when a World Cup gallery of stars would have included half a dozen Frenchmen, blessed with flair or forward-based ferocity. How times have changed. Fickou, the young Toulouse centre, has the potential to remind us of Gallic glory days, all grace and speed.
Jesse Kriel (South Africa)
The 21-year-old from the Bulls intends on showcasing his outstanding talents. He is simply electric at outside centre. Another 21-year-old to keep an eye on is Jesse’s Blue Bulls teammate; Handre Pollard.
Eben Etzebeth (South Africa)
The Springboks still exude a sense of menace in all that they do. To beat them you have to stop them, be it upfront or behind. It’s a macho challenge and Etzebeth, the young South African lock, who stands at 2.04m and weighs a staggering 123kg has rightfully inherited the mantle of Bakkies Botha: The Enforcer.
South Africa has the best overall win rate in Rugby World Cup history: the Springboks have won 25 of 29 matches (86.2 per cent).