Itís nearly here, the Rugby World Cup 2015!
Itís been a long four years for the Rugby fans that have been eagerly awaiting this years World Cup in England, especially for those that have been excited since the final minutes of the final in New Zealand 2011.
England are the hosts this year to the biggest tournament in the sport of rugby, having been the winners themselves as recent as 2003, when a late flick of Jonny Wilkinsonís boot sent the nation into raptures.
England were the winners that year in Australia, and it was the host nations whose hearts they would break Ė but can being the host year be luckier for England than it was for the Aussies back then?
Itís fair to say that the England rugby team have failed to captivate the hearts of our nation like they did that year, but with everything being played in our own backyard, the England head coach, Stuart Lancaster, will be hoping to recreate some of that magic when the tournament begins on September the 18th.
England are not the outright favourites, although they are a respectable second. Currently the bookies are placing New Zealand as their pre tournament winners to be, and you can find them around about 11/8.
England can be backed at 7/2, whilst South Africa are 4/1. The Aussieís are an outside bet at 9/1, with Ireland 8/1 and Wales 14/1.
Off the field issues certainly havenít helped the England team in recent months. Last month England Dylan Hartley was removed from the squad after a head-butt on Saracensí Jamie George. Hartley has admitted he is understandably ďguttedĒ to be missing this years world cup, he said:
ďAm I gutted about missing the World Cup? Stupid question Ė of course I am,Ē he said,
ďThere is no truth in the speculation I may quit international rugby. Iíve been unlucky with getting it wrong on the big stage a few times now. Maybe itís down to emotions?
ďI feel I can still contribute and as long as Stuart Lancaster thinks that too, thatís all that matters. I need to channel my hurt into training because, when the World Cup starts, I need to be in a good place fitness-wise in case of injuries.Ē
Englandís opening fixture of the World Cup 2015 is Friday September 18th when they face Fiji at Twickenham.
If England make the final they will head back to Twickenham for the big game on Saturday 31st October.