Rugby World Cup 2011: Rules of engagement

The Rugby World Cup 2011 will be hosted in New Zealand across 13 venues, including Eden Park Stadium in Auckland that will kick off the tournament on Friday September 9, 2011 when New Zealand play Tonga. To ensure fair play in the tournament, rules of engagement were released.

National team

A player may play for a national team if he was born in that country, if one parent/ grandparent was born in that country or if he has lived in that country for at least three years. Questions why Melbourne Rebel Adam was given the green light to play for Russia in the World Cup when he was born in Australia are, therefore, answered by the fact that his grandparents are Russian.

Moreover, all national teams must have a change kit in case of a colour clash. England’s new black change kit, for instance, has ruffled a few feathers in New Zealand, prompting the New Zealand Prime Minister to say: "There's only one team that wears black with pride and that's the All Blacks." England’s Tom Wood in defense of the kit responded: "It [the kit] has got the red rose on it and that is all that matters to us."

How quarter-finalists will be decided

All teams in a pool will play each other once. The total points scored by each team will be tallied. A win is worth four points and a draw two points. The team that scores four or more tries or that loses by fewer than seven points will be awarded an extra point. The top two teams from each pool, based on the sum total points scored, will go into the quarter-finals. Worth to note here is that, different from previous tournaments, the third placed team in each pool will secure qualification for the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

If two teams finish level on points, then the result of the pool match between the two tied teams will be used to determine the team that goes into the quarter-finals. If the teams drew in their pool match or more than two teams are tied, points difference, then tries difference will determine the pool rankings. If teams are still tied, then the most points scored, most tries scored and finally the IRB World Rankings set for release on October 3, 2011 will determine the qualifying side.

Knockout stages

If teams in the knockout stages draw, the match will go to extra time with two 10-minute periods, similar to what happened in the 1995 and 2003 rugby world cup finals. If after the extra time the sides are still level, they will play a sudden death match of a maximum of 10 minutes. The first team to score will win the contest following a rule similar to the 'golden goal' rule in football. If teams are still tied after sudden death, a kicking competition like the one that decided the 2009 Heineken Cup semi-final match between Cardiff and Leicester will determine the winner.

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