How well do you really know the Rugby World Cup?
Dates and key figures, participating countries, the last winners...
Test your knowledge and get ready for this major sporting event with the first episode of "Do you speak rugby?"
So, did you know the answers?
From 18 September to 31 October 2015, the world will be oval rather than round: passions will be unleashed at the eighth Rugby World Cup, especially in host country England, while matches will also take place in Wales. The match between England and Fiji will kick off the competition at Twickenham on 18 September. The tournament has to be at least six weeks long to ensure that each team has the necessary rest between matches.
Twenty countries are taking part in the World Cup: eight from Europe, five from Oceania, four from the Americas, two from Africa and one from Asia. The globalisation of rugby is apparent from Windhoek (Namibia) to Montevideo (Uruguay)! Although the twelve top-ranked teams qualified automatically for the finals, the lesser ranked teams had to battle it out for two years in order to earn one of the eight remaining spots.
Argentina, Australia, Canada, England, France, Ireland, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Romania, Scotland and Wales all hold the record for the most appearances – eight – which means they have appeared in every World Cup held.
The World Cup began 28 years ago. The first competition was held in 1987 in New Zealand and Australia. Since then, the competition has been held in Europe (1991, 1999, 2007), South Africa (1995) and Australia (2003), before returning to its roots in New Zealand in 2011.
In addition to the glory, the winning team will take home the Webb Ellis Cup, named after the English student William Webb Ellis who is credited with inventing rugby. The cup is made of gilded silver and is 38 cm tall. It's heavier than a rugby ball, but light enough for the victorious captain to hoist it aloft in celebration – well deserved after their efforts!
New Zealand are the defending champions after their 8-7 victory against France in 2011, 24 years after they first won the title in 1987. Only four teams have ever won the World Cup – the All Blacks (1987, 2011), South Africa (1995, 2007), Australia (1991) and England (2003). And France? Soon, of course!
The last World Cup took place in 2011, and the next one will be held in Japan, in 2019.
With 27 wins in their last 28 matches, New Zealand are the clear favourites, with their generation of exceptional players. But it's not as cut and dry as it would seem – no team has ever successfully retained their crown. Behind the favourites, two other teams stand out – England, second in the most recent Six Nations tournament, and South Africa. As for France, their best performances come when least expected!