Rugby union world cup preview

With the Rugby Union World Cup comes excitement, passion and extreme competition. 20 teams will all be looking to be crowned as world champions but there can ultimately only be one winner, so who will it be this time around?

New Zealand: Under the stewardship of Coach Graham Henry his all-blacks side has gone strength to strength and is currently rated as the best team in the world. With quality all over the pitch and their star talisman in fly half Dan Carter, who is to say that New Zealand can't lift the cup in their own back-yard? Incidentally the last and only time they won the competition was indeed hosted in both New Zealand and Australia in 1987.

Australia: Currently ranked 2nd in the world and boasting one of the best records of all the nations in the world cup, to forget about Australia would be a big mistake. With a conveyor belt of talent constantly being produces, the new crop of players have showed huge potential and none more so than fly-half Quade Cooper whose influence in the games he has played has been nothing short of remarkable. The Wallabies as always will be a formidable opponent and with Captain James Horwill leading his side into battle, could we see the first ever rugby nation securing three world cups.

South Africa: The current world champions will be after the right to maintain their status and with the likes of Bryan Habana and John Smit amongst their ranks, back to back world cups would come as no surprise to many. With players like Habana, Smit and Matfield all of which have tasted the sweet success of world cup victory, their experience will prove invaluable to any success in the coming months.

England: Martin Johnson will know full well what is required from his side if they are to win the world cup after captaining an England side in 2003 to victory in Australia. Despite being ranked with an outside chance of winning in New Zealand, the side has a few tricks up their sleeve and with captain Lewis Moody rallying his side together into battle, who knows what this England side can achieve. 2003 is prime evidence to support this point, despite some indifferent performances in the early stages of that tournament, the side's grit and determination saw them rally together and strive forward into the final before losing to a strong South Africa side.

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