Guide to the Rugby World Cup 2015: Pool A
With just two days until the Rugby World Cup kicks off, we preview each of the four pools.
The pool allocation took place back in December 2012, meaning hat the current rankings mean very little to do with the caliber of teams in the different groups.
World Ranking: 2
Summed up in three words: Erratic, Gifted, Titans
Head Coach: Michael Cheika
Familiar faces: Quade Cooper, Israel Folau
Key Player: Veteran wing Adam Ashley-Cooper is crucial to the Aussies World Cup ambitions. The versatile back has made 106 Test caps, and his five tries at the Rugby World Cup in 2011 saw him finish in the tournament’s top five try-scorers.
Overview: Australia entered The Rugby Championship as underdogs’ and came out as the victors. That surge of confidence should help them escape the ‘pool of death’ at Wales’s expense.
RUCK Verdict: Quarter-finals
World Ranking: 4
Summed up in three words: Historical, Stout, Hosts
Head Coach: Stuart Lancaster
Familiar faces: Chris Robshaw, Sam Burgess
Key Player: Fullback Mike Brown is probably England’s nearest thing to a superstar. The 29-year old had experienced concussion problems during the Six Nations in the spring but after recovering will add to his 36 Test caps at the upcoming World Cup, leading the men in white from the back.
Overview: It has not been the greatest build up, however, on their day England has the strength and ability to beat anyone in the world. The semi-finals is a realistic target for them but to go one further would be so much better for the fans and the spectacle.
RUCK Verdict: Rugby World Cup 2015 Runners-up
World Ranking: 9
Summed up in three words: Dominant, extraordinary, formidable
Head Coach: John McKee
Familiar faces: Vereniki Goneva, Akapusi Qera
Key Player: The rampaging Nemani Nadolo returns to the group after being rested for the Fijians Pacific Nations Cup campaign. The cross-code winger has touched down 15 tries in 19 Test caps and will be someone to watch out for in Pool A.
Overview: Having been drawn in the ‘pool of death’ the Fijian fans will just want their side to compete and show the fighting spirit their team is recognized for. They should overcome Uruguay but overcoming any of the other three will be challenging to say the least.
RUCK Verdict: Pool stage
World Ranking: 5
Summed up in three words: Resilient, Impassioned, Proficient
Head Coach: Warren Gatland
Familiar faces: Sam Warburton, Alun Wyn Jones
Key Player: George North has emerged as one of the most exciting wingers in the modern game having already won two Six Nations titles despite his tender years. The 23-year old, who has already amassed 49 caps for the men in red, scoring 22 tries, has also made three Test appearances for British and Irish Lions, touching down twice during their tour of Australia in 2013.
Overview: In what was already going to be a tight Pool, the injuries to Leigh Halfpenny and Rhys Webb added to their wretched record against the Wallabies, who they have lost ten consecutive matches against, will likely end in an early departure for the men in red.
RUCK Verdict: Pool stage
World Ranking: 19
Summed up in three words: Improving, Fresh, Spirited
Head Coach: Pablo Lemoine
Familiar faces: Mario Sagario
Key Player: Fly-half Felipe Berchesi was one of the Uruguayan’s most steady performers throughout their qualifiers for the World Cup in 2015. He has scored 83 points in 12 Test caps and will be one of their stars in what will be an incredibly tough Pool.
Overview: Unfortunately for Uruguay they will be well beaten in all of their World Cup matches. However, the experience of playing quality teams will be key to some of their younger players developing and, therefore, could help in their progress as a rugby nation.