Everything You Need to Know
The best two pages in the magazine – all the important information you are going to need for the next seven weeks.
A World Cup can be overwheming for the home viewer. Never fear, these two pages will give you a great head start towards getting your head around the tournament and what it is all about.
WEATHER IN ENGLAND
A bit risky predicting the likely weather in the UK given the notoriously fickle patterns that inflict the island. But it is important to understand that when the tournament kicks off in mid-September, the UK could be basking in late summer sunshine. It might actually be quite warm – maybe around 20 degrees – and probably quite dry, too. By the semifinal and final – played in mid-to-late October – conditions should have worsened. Night games are likely to be played in single figure temperatures and that time of year is prone to strong winds and squally showers.
KICK OFF TIMES
There is a full mix of kickoff times across the tournament and for the All Blacks – so you will have to pay attention. The range of kickoff times in [UK time] is from 12 noon to 8pm. To the organisers credit they have heavily utilised the late afternoon and managed to schedule two quarterfinals, both semifinals and the final for 4pm.
Seriously, pay attention to this as it will be important for setting alarms and recording devices. Time differences between NZ and the UK are going to change during the tournament. Between September 18 and September 27 the time difference between NZ and the UK will be 11 hours. They will be on British Summer Time [no they are not being ironic]. Between September 27 and October 25 the time difference will be 12 hours. NZ will instigate daylight savings on September 27.
After October 25 the time difference will be 13 hours as the clocks in the UK will go back. This may be presumptuous – but the only game affected by this last change is the final...
Bit of a bummer that the All Blacks might have to play South Africa in the semifinal as the Boks are definitely the most serious contender. They beat the All Blacks last year and are a team with tournament pedigree and all the right bells and whistles for high pressure rugby. Big and tough they might be worryingly good.
England if they can handle the pressure of being hosts and the expectation of a nation that is remarkably good at losing all perspective, have a bit of an edge to them. There are plenty of bruisers in the pack and occasionally, when they really commit to a wider gameplan, they can do a bit of damage through the backs.
Ireland are a contender more on the basis they have a favourable draw. They are quite good. Well coached and organised and they are hard to beat. But they don’t play quite enough rugby to be a threat on the same level as England and South Africa.
The French. They are actually pretty ordinary and it is going to get rather dull hearing all the usual cliches about their unpredictability. Unless they are unpredictable and beat the All Blacks in the quarterfinal. Again. Which they could...because they are unpredictable and its dangerous to write them off. Damn it. How did we end up here?
The Wallabies [right] aren’t quite the basket case we all say they are. They have chronic problems at scrum time – but they had those in 2003 and made the final. They know how to hide their weakness and they never lack for confidence. When have the Aussies ever thought they were beaten?
Mostly iconic, big football stadiums with a few rugby classics thrown in. Twickenham will be the centrepiece in the knockout rounds along with Millennium Stadium. The latter is a magnificent venue but has a terrible pitch and, given the number of games going to be played on it, could look like a pretty sad grazing paddock by the quarterfinals.
Millennium might be the exception – the one stodgy surface that fits the stereotype. Because most of the other games are being played at football grounds, they will be firm, hard packed and on short grass. Everyone might be surprised at how easy it will be to play at pace and generate width.
RAIN CHECK: There will be a bit of crap weather in the knockout rounds.
HARD EDGE: The Boks will be tough to beat.
RECORD CROWD: Wembley will have 90,000 people in it when the All Blacks play there.