In Depth

Rugby World Cup 2015: A-Z of the tournament in pictures

Everything you need to know (and a few things you don't need to know) about this year's tournament

A... is for Attendance

Nearly 83,000 people crammed into Sydney's Telstra Stadium on 22 November 2003 to see England beat Australia 20-17 in the final. To this day, it remains the highest ever attendance for a Rugby World Cup final match.

B... is for Big

Rugby players are massive, and they are only getting bigger. In this year's Six Nations, Wales, Ireland, England, France and Scotland all fielded teams with a combined weight of more than 1,500kg and England's pack weighed in at 916kg. In 1962 the average England player weighed 85.7kg, by 2012 it was 104kg.

C... is for Conversions

Francois Trinh-Duc of France became the first man to score a conversion in a World Cup final this century when he slotted the extra two points in 2011. The last successful kick before that came from Matt Burke of Australia in 1999. Jonny Wilkinson and Elton Flatley missed kicks in the 2003 final, and no tries were scored in 2007.

D... is for Drubbing

There are often complete mismatches in the opening stages of the tournament, and the biggest came in 2003 when Australia battered Namibia 142-0. But in 1995 New Zealand set a points record and ran in 22 tries in a 145-17 destruction of Japan.

E...is for Eden Park

This legendary venue in central Auckland, New Zealand, is the only stadium in the world to have hosted the Rugby World Cup Final twice, in 1987 and 2011, and the All Blacks won both times. This year Twickenham in London, will draw level with it later this year.

F...is for France

You have to feel for France, always the bridesmaids never the brides. They might be erratic, but three times they have made the final, only to lose. And they've reached the semi-finals in all but one of their seven appearances in the event. It's almost impossible to predict how the French will perform at the finals, so will this be their year at last?

G...is for Group of Death

There's always one pool where it's too close to call, and this time it's Pool A, which features England, Australia, Wales and Fiji. How did it happen? When Wales lost to Australia in November 2012 they dropped to ninth in the world, meaning they would not be seeded for the draw and had the misfortune of landing England and Australia. Fiji's poor qualifying campaign meant they too were drawn in the Group of Death, alongside Uruguay.

H... is for Height

Standing 6ft 11in, Irish lock Devin Toner will be the tallest player at this year's Rugby World Cup. Strangely, he still needs lifting up at line-outs too. At 7ft, Scotland's Richard Metcalfe holds the record for the tallest ever international but he never played in the event.

I...is for Interception

There are few more thrilling sights than a pass being intercepted and then ran in for a try at the other end. Perhaps the best one at the Rugby World Cup was that by Australia's Stirling Mortlock in the 2003 semi-final win over New Zealand.

J...is for Japan

In 2019, the Rugby World Cup will be held in Japan. It will be the first time that the event has been held in Asia, and 12 cities will host the matches, ranging from Sapporo in the north to Kumamoto in the very south.

K...is for Knockouts

Not the knockout stages, but the medical variety. It's not uncommon for players to be knocked unconscious but such incidents are now taken very seriously and players must prove that they are unaffected by a knockout before they can return. Players including Mike Brown of England and George North of Wales have been ruled out for months after being knocked unconscious this year.

L...is for Lomu

Arguably rugby's first global superstar whose arrival coincided with the advent of professionalism and whose thundering approach ushered in a new era for the sport. Anyone who saw the giant All Blacks winger in action in his heyday will know how hard it was to stop him. Hardly surprising then that he holds the record for the most tries scored in the Rugby World Cup, amassing 15 over two tournaments in 1995 and 1999.

M... is for McCaw

Can the All Black legend become the first man to captain his side to two World Cup triumphs? Regarded by many as the greatest player ever, the New Zealand flanker is the most-capped international of all time, surpassing Brian O'Driscoll's mark of 141 matches in the build-up to the tournament. Now 34, the Kiwi superstar has captained the All Blacks more than 100 times, and is widely expected to retire at the end of the tournament.

N...is for North

The name's North, George North. At just 19 years and 166 days old, the Welsh winger scored two tries in the 2011 Rugby World Cup match against Namibia, making him the youngest ever try scorer in the event's history, beating the record set by Australian Joe Roff. Since then he has become a star, part in thanks to his epic performances for the British Lions in 2013.

O... is for Ormaechea

That's Diego Ormaechea, the Uruguayan number eight who became the oldest player to ever appear in a Rugby World Cup match when he turned out against South Africa in the 1999 competition, aged 40 years and 26 days.

P... is for Penalties

Hats off to Gonzalo Quesada the Argentinian fly-half who currently holds the record for the most penalties scored in a single Rugby World Cup, when he managed to kick a grand total of 31 in the tournament in Wales in 1999.

Q...is for Qualification

That's how many countries were involved in the qualification for the 2015 Rugby World Cup. There were 12 automatic qualifiers based on performances at the last Rugby World Cup (but only eight were seeded), while the remaining nations scrapped it out for the last eight places. Fiji, who ended up in Pool A with England, Australia and Wales, were forced to play the Cook Islands in a play-off to qualify.

R... is for Red cards

A total of 16 red cards have been issued at the Rugby World Cup since it began in 1987. The first was given to Welsh lock Huw Richards in the inaugural event for punching Kiwi lock Gary Whetton, while the most recent was handed to Sam Warburton in the 2011 semi-final.

S... is for Samoa

Samoans, like other Pacific Islanders, love their rugby, and when they hosted their first-ever home Test against the All Blacks in Apia earlier this year the country came to a standstill. Opposition players also come to a standstill when confronted by Samoans, for the islanders are renowned as the fiercest tacklers in the game, and love to hit their rivals hard.

T... is for Twickenham

The host venue of this year's final and, put simply, the greatest rugby stadium in the world. Expanded to seat an impressive 82,000 in 2006, it's the largest dedicated rugby ground in the world and the home of English rugby.

U... is for Uruguay

The South Americans are the only different team from the final 20 that made the finals the last time around. This will be their third appearance in the Rugby World Cup, and their first since 2003. They were the last team to qualify for the tournament and replace Russia from the 2011 line-up, after beating them in a play-off.

V... is for Video referee

You'll probably see a lot of this guy during the Rugby World Cup. Yes, rugby leads the way in using technology to make sure decisions are made correctly, and the video referee now plays a crucial part in assisting the main match referee.

W...is for Wilkinson

We all remember Jonny Wilkinson as the man who dropped that goal for England in 2003, but he also holds the record for the highest total of Rugby World Cup points (277), the most conversions (58) and the highest number of drop goals in the finals (14).

X... is for X-rated

Sometimes, the heat of battle can get the better of players. Take the Rugby World Cup qualifying game between Belgium and Georgia in Brussels in 2013, where a fight between virtually every player broke out for several minutes until the referee regained control.

Y... is for Yellow cards

If a player gets one of these, they are temporarily suspended from the game and have to sit in the 'sin bin' for ten minutes. A player receiving a second yellow card in a game will also be shown a red card, meaning that they have been sent off and their game is over.

Z...is for Zealand

How can a nation with a population of just 4.5 million keep producing such outstanding teams? They're the two-time winners, the reigning champions and the pre-tournament favourites, and they'll doubtless be there or thereabouts come the end of this tournament too.

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