When does the Rugby World Cup start - Opening game, pool matches and final dates

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The Rugby World Cup begins on September 8 in Paris
The Rugby World Cup begins on September 8 in Paris

South Africa will be aiming to defend their World Cup crown in France this autumn.

The Springboks won the tournament for the third time four years ago - equalling New Zealand's haul in the process. England were beaten finalists in Japan but have endured a notable decline in the four years since. As a result Steve Borthwick's side are very much coming in under the radar.

England are the fourth highest ranked side in Europe currently, but have been put into the favourable side of the draw. They find themselves in a pool with Argentina and could face the likes of Wales or Australia should they make the quarter-final.

The top ranked Ireland, who secured Six Nations glory with a Grand Slam on home soil back in March, are looking to end their quarter-final hoodoo having never made it past the last eight in a World Cup. Andy Farrell's side are in a pool with the defending champions and Scotland.

Whoever advances from that pool will face a daunting test regardless of whether they finish top or not. That is because France and New Zealand are set to advance from Pool A. The hosts and the All Blacks will face off on opening night at the Stade de France with the winner heavy favourites to advance as pool winners.

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When is the opening game?

Les Blues will face New Zealand on September 8 in Paris in what will be a major test of both their credentials. France have enjoyed an excellent winning run on home soil, taking down every major nation, including the All Blacks themselves in November 2021.

When does the Rugby World Cup start - Opening game, pool matches and final datesFrance are host and favourites for the tournament

Their last defeat in France came at the hands of Scotland more than two years ago. New Zealand themselves are approaching the end of an era with their coach, Ian Foster, departing after the tournament.

When is the semi-final and final?

The Rugby World Cup will go on for well over a month with the two semi-finals taking place on October 20 and 21 - both in Paris. The third place play-off, won four years ago by the All Blacks, is on October 27 with the final 24 hours later.

Who are the favourites?

France are narrowly ahead in the betting as they look to win the World Cup for the first time. Back in 2007 on home soil they lost in the semi-finals to England.

New Zealand are second favourites despite their notable drop off in recent years with Ireland, who have beaten all before them over the past two years, looking to continue their winning run and make more history.

South Africa are next in the betting with England relative outsiders following their below par showings in recent years. Eddie Jones, who led England to the final four years ago, is now in charge of Australia, who are in something of a transition period. Warren Gatland's Wales are also coming in under the radar.

Samuel Meade

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