Rugby Union

Who will top the Rugby World Cup's 'Group of Death'?

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Friday not only sees the 2015 World Cup commence at Twickenham, but it is also the first game of what many people are calling 'the group of death'.

Aptly named as it contains four of the top nine seeds in world rugby, it is being touted as the toughest World Cup pool ever drawn.

The group will be fought out between host nations England and Wales, Australia, Fiji and play-off winners Uruguay.

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And with the exception of Uruguay, the group could throw up some interesting and potentially shocking results, and all is to play for. We assess each teams chances of qualification.

England

The host nation and number four seed are full of optimism ahead of their opener on Friday night against Fiji. Perhaps the most telling factor could be the home crowd. Three of England's four games are at Twickenham, with their final game against Uruguay at the Etihad in Manchester.

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And coach Stuart Lancaster has a strong and deep squad at his disposal, to add to England's good record at World Cups, with the exception of 2011 in New Zealand.

All being well, England will come through the group as winners, and I think England will go far in the competition.

Prediction: 1st

Wales

Wales will be without star player Leigh Halfpenny, and I think this is a pivotal loss for them. Not only is he so solid as a last man, but his place kicking is almost second to none.

They have been able to draft in Mike Phillips as a replacement for injured Rhys Webb, and he adds invaluable experience.

But with only two games in front of their loving home fans at the Millennium Stadium, and no Halfpenny, I think Wales will struggle against England and Australia.

Prediction: 3rd

Australia

After a successful Championship win earlier in the summer, Australia will be confident of their chances of qualification.

With David Pocock returning to the side, and potentially partnering Michael Hooper to create a fearsome back row, Australia could cause England problems.

Israel Folau is a class act at full back and if Quade Cooper turns up, he can match the best in the world.

Prediction: 2nd

Fiji

The massive islanders will be hoping they can cause numerous upsets in the group, and they have improved significantly since 2011.

A lot of their hopes rest on goal kicker and 20 stone winger Nemani Nadolo, who is sure to leave many an opponents shaking with fear, as he also runs the 100 metres in under 11 seconds.

I don't think they possess enough across the pitch to cause any real issues in this group, but they will provide good preparation for the latter stages.

Prediction: 4th

Uruguay 

Not much to be said about the South American side, they'll be the group whipping boys, and are sure to concede a truck load of points.

Never say never, but the odds are completely stacked against them, and an upset seems very unlikely.

Prediction: 5th

It isn't important to just secure qualification, but to win the group is vital. A second place finish for any one of these sides would likely draw South Africa, who will undoubtedly be an extremely tough fixture.

And then of course the next opponent would seemingly be the All Blacks. So winning the group is vital, and I think England will do enough to secure the top spot.

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Topics:
Leigh Halfpenny
Wales Rugby
Australia Rugby
Rugby Union
England Rugby
IRB Rugby World Cup

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