To help you through the 48 matches, ITV has put together a sensational line-up of former winners as part of their coverage team, which will be fronted by Steve Rider. So sit back and hear the views of a quartet who have won more than 250 caps between them. Over the World Cup, these four legends will share with you their views on the tournaments’ big topics…
How do you assess the Home Nations’ chances at the World Cup?
Francois Pienaar: The main threat will come from England and Ireland, and I wouldn’t push either ahead of the other. They’ve both got strong squads, which is what you need in a World Cup where you have to win three big matches if you’re to be successful. I haven’t seen much of this England team but it looks like they’re getting the balance right between experience and youth.
Lawrence Dallaglio: England go into their pool as the favourites by nature of the fact that they’ve just won the Six Nations, and some of their recent results against the southern hemisphere. They’ve got a good record at World Cups, they’ve been to three finals and won one. English players are good under pressure, and they will relish the knockout element of the tournament.
Sean Fitzpatrick: The Tri-Nations teams are ranked one-two-three, and the world rankings don’t lie. England and Ireland stand the best chance from the home nations quartet. Scotland lack strength in depth and Wales will have a real battle on their hands to qualify from their pool. England have strength in depth while Ireland have a very experienced squad, a lot of whom will be playing in their last World Cup.
Michael Lynagh: Scotland and Wales might struggle. Particularly Wales, who are in a very physical pool with South Africa and two Pacific Island teams. I think Ireland will be a team to watch, and England might surprise a few people. They should win their pool, then they’ll probably play France in the quarters and if they win that probably Australia. England shouldn’t fear those two and they could well reach the final.
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This article appeared in the October 2011 issue of Rugby World Magazine.
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