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The Rugby World Cup is made up of 20 teams, divided into four Pools of five teams.
Each team plays four matches, one game against each side, to determine which two teams will go through to the knockout stages.
Four points are awarded to a side for a win, two points for a draw and zero points for a loss.
There are also bonus points available during the Pool stage. One bonus point is awarded for scoring four tries, irrespective of the result. One bonus point can also be gained by the losing side if they lose by seven points or fewer.
How many pools are there?
There are four – A, B, C, D – containing five teams each.
Which is England in?
Eddie Jones’ side feature in Pool C along with Argentina, France, USA and Tonga.
What about the other home nations?
Scotland are in Pool A with Ireland, Japan, Russia and Samoa. Wales, meanwhile, will be taking on Australia, Georgia, Fiji and Uruguay in D.
How many go through in each group?
The top two make it through to the quarter-finals, taking place on October 19 and 20.
What are the latest standings?
Pre-tournament pool guide and fixtures
Here is how they shape up.
Ireland are the favourites to top the pool. The number one ranked side will be confident of securing the top position as long as they can defeat Scotland in their opening game. Scotland have a great opportunity to make it into the quarter-finals as the other Tier 1 side. However, they will face stiff competition from the hosts Japan who will equally see this pool as a chance to make it into the knockout stages. Japan vs Scotland is the last fixture in the group and could well be the decider.
Samoa showed some promise in their last warm-up match against Australia and will be targeting both the Japan and Scotland fixtures for an upset. Russia look somewhat hopeless – they lost comfortably to Championship side Jersey Reds in one of their warm-up fixtures.
Ireland are likely to come first, with Scotland joining them in the quarter-finals. But Japan should not be discounted, especially at home. This pool could come down to bonus points.
Pool A fixtures:
- Japan 30 Russia 10… Tokyo Stadium… Friday, September 20… 11.45am BST… (ITV)
- Ireland 27 Scotland 3… International Stadium Yokohama… Sunday, September 22… 8.45am BST… (ITV)
- Russia 9 Samoa 34… Kumagaya Rugby Stadium… Tuesday, September 24… 11.15am BST… (ITV 4)
- Japan 19 Ireland 12… Shizuoka Stadium Ecopa… Saturday, September 28… 8.15am BST… (ITV)
- Scotland 34 Samoa 0… Kobe Misaki Stadium… Monday, September 30… 11.15am BST… (ITV)
- Ireland 35 Russia 0… Kobe Misaki Stadium… Thursday, October 3… 11.15am BST… (ITV)
- Japan vs Samoa… City of Toyota Stadium… Saturday, October 5… 11.30am BST… (ITV)
- Scotland vs Russia… Shizuoka Stadium Ecopa… Wednesday, October 9… 8.15am BST… (ITV)
- Ireland vs Samoa… Fukuoka Hakatanomori Stadium… Saturday, October 12… 11.45am BST… (ITV)
- Japan vs Scotland… International Stadium Yokohama… Sunday, October 13… 11.45am BST… (ITV)
New Zealand and South Africa will progress to the knockout stages. The question is in what order. The two sides meet on Saturday in their opening fixture. The rest of the pool matches will be relatively straightforward for them.
Italy are the next best side in this pool but have failed to kick on under the leadership of Conor O’Shea. It seems unlikely they will pose much of a challenge to either the All Blacks or the Springboks. Canada and Namibia will battle it out to avoid coming last in the pool – Canada will be favourites as number 22 and 23 in the world rankings clash.
The energy of New Zealand and South Africa will be focused on beating one another – and thereby avoiding Ireland in the quarter-finals, assuming Ireland win their pool.
Pool B fixtures:
- New Zealand 23 South Africa 13… International Stadium Yokohama… Saturday, September 21… 10.45am BST… (ITV)
- Italy 47 Namibia 22… Hanazono Rugby Stad
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