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Rugby World Cup 2015 welcomes Shaun the Sheep into its flock

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Children's animation favourite Shaun the Sheep has today been unveiled as the newest member of the Rugby World Cup 2015 team in England.

As part of a merchandising deal between Rugby World Cup 2015 Master Licensee, Elite Sports Properties (ESP) and the character's award-winning creators Aardman Animations, Shaun will be decked out in his very own Rugby World Cup 2015 kit, in a move designed to create more awareness of rugby among younger audiences around the world.

"We are delighted to be welcoming Shaun the Sheep to the Rugby World Cup 2015 flock," said chairman of Rugby World Cup Limited and International Rugby Board (IRB) President Bernard Lapasset.

"With rugby reaching out and engaging the world's youth, the relationship between the world's third largest event and the globally loved Shaun, will be a match that will inspire more boys and girls to get involved with a character-building sport."

Shaun the Sheep is a spin-off character from the award-winning Wallace and Gromit series created by Nick Park of Aardman Animations, and his first series was aired in the United Kingdom in 2007.

Since then the series has been broadcast in more than 170 countries and a new feature film, starring the woolly Shaun, who has nearly three million Facebook followers, is due for release in early 2015, just a few months before Rugby World Cup 2015 kicks off on September 18.

Aardman and ESP are looking to create official Rugby World Cup 2015 merchandising products including apparel, plush, stationery and giftware featuring the animated character.

Early style guides and concepts will be presented at Brand Licensing Europe, in London next month.

"Shaun the Sheep is a family favourite and is enjoyed the world over," said Sean Clarke, head of Aardman Rights.

"With the flock working together as a team at the heart of every story, it was a natural fit to work with Rugby World Cup 2015.

"The joint licensing programme will encourage not only sports fans but all aspiring young children and their families around the world to join in and get behind rugby and the tournament."

Insidethegames

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This is a great photo

Sonny Bill Williams to the rescue! A ten year old fan had made it through the barriers and onto the ground in front of a group of celebrating All Blacks when he was crash tackled by a security guard.

There are several issues here for me. Specifically today, the officials' decision not to show a second yellow card to the Argentinian prop will doubtless be seen as crucial through Irish eyes, even if

Ominous rugby two years out...

New Zealand 30 - England 22.

Both sides played with an intensity not seen at Twickenham for a while...

The All Blacks clearly out to avenge last years back down to reality loss to England at the same ground.

England tours New Zealand next year with three tests to be played along with the regular money grabber at Twickenham.

Clearly these two teams are the favourites for 2015.

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RWC 2015 volunteer programme launches

The England Rugby 2015 Organising Committee has today launched ‘The Pack’ – the volunteer programme for RWC 2015.

‘The Pack’ will be made up of 6,000 volunteers who will be the faces of the tournament, helping to deliver RWC 2015 across England and in Cardiff. In line with the vision for RWC 2015, ‘The Pack’ will have rugby at heart - recruiting 75 per cent of the volunteers from rugby clubs in England and Wales.

In addition, ‘The Pack’ will bring 1,500 potential new volunteers into rugby through a national campaign, with the aim of retaining them beyond 2015 as part the tournament’s legacy.

Volunteers will play a key role in the delivery of the six-week tournament with a range of roles, including transport, meet and greet, accreditation and way-finding, and will all vary in duration.

Recruitment will begin on 17 March through an online application process. Over 2,000 Rugby Football Union (RFU) and Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) clubs will nominate between one and two of their members to join ‘The Pack’, and take part in selection events (‘Try Outs’) across England and in Cardiff throughout 2014.

Recognising the work of volunteers

Members of the general public can register their interest in joining ‘The Pack’ from today in the volunteers section of www.rugbyworldcup.com and details will be sent directly to all those signed up to The Front Row – the official newsletter for RWC 2015. The application process will be open for one month between 17 March and 17 Apri, followed by ‘Try Outs’ from June to December. Successful members of ‘The Pack’ will be confirmed in early 2015.

Read more at http://www.rugbyworldcup.com/home/news/newsid=2070306.html#lygyPETiTHveVuC0.99

...

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You know we're closing in on a sportsfest two years! New Zealand sports is on a roll with the NZ Cricket team finally clicking, England v All Blacks tour mid year, Glasgow CWGs, Cricket WC this time next year, FifaU20WC NZ, RWC England later in 15 and 2016 it's Olympics.

Yes, we have left the drudge year behind.

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USA qualify for RWC 2015
(IRB.COM) Saturday 29 March 2014
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USA survived an almighty scare from Uruguay to book their place at Rugby World Cup 2015 as the Americas 2 qualifier after a 32-13 win in Atalanta saw them go through 59-40 on aggregate.
USA will play in Pool B with South Africa, Samoa and Scotland.
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MasterCard renews successful RWC partnership

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Rugby World Cup Limited (RWCL) has announced the re-appointment of MasterCard as a Worldwide Partner of Rugby World Cup 2015 in England, completing the prestigious tournament partner programme in record time and with record value.

The deal maintains a highly-successful partnership between one of the world’s biggest sporting events and the global payments technology leader which debuted at the record-breaking New Zealand 2011 tournament.

MasterCard will be the Preferred Card and Official Payment System of Rugby World Cup 2015, which will provide a global stage to celebrate Rugby, its character-building values and the host nation, while delivering the strong financial platform for continued Rugby growth.

RWCL Managing Director Brett Gosper said: “We are excited to be renewing our highly-successful partnership with MasterCard, a globally renowned brand, a world leader in the payments technology sector and a true supporter of Rugby worldwide.”

Read more at http://www.rugbyworldcup.com/home/news/newsid=2071067.html#XzWIhQt7Ug3RtXVE.99

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Rugby World Cup Trophy Tour launched

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To mark 500 days to go until Rugby World Cup 2015, tournament organisers England Rugby 2015 have today revealed plans for a Rugby World Cup Trophy Tour which will see the iconic Webb Ellis Cup travel to 15 countries across five continents as part of an international celebration of rugby.

The tour, which is being delivered in partnership with Land Rover and DHL – two long supporters of the Game and Worldwide Partners of next year’s showpiece tournament – will visit a mixture of established and developing rugby nations in the build-up to RWC 2015.

On Tuesday May 20, the Webb Ellis Cup will depart for Japan, hosts of RWC 2019, and will then visit 14 other countries over the next 400 days before returning to England on the 100 days to go milestone on June 10 2015, to travel around the UK and the Republic of Ireland.

The route will include visits to Australia, Fiji, Madagascar, Kenya, South Africa, Argentina, Uruguay, China, USA, UAE, Italy, Germany, Romania and France. For more details on the Rugby World Cup Trophy Tour please click here.

Each Rugby World Cup Trophy Tour visit will last between three to five days and will include a school visit, a rugby club visit, a reception hosted at the British Embassy, unique activation with local communities delivered by Land Rover and DHL and opportunities for the Cup to visit iconic locations and be on display to rugby fans around the world. Each part of the visit will be an opportunity to showcase the values of the Game and celebrate rugby in the build up to RWC 2015.

Read more at http://www.rugbyworldcup.com/home/news/newsid=2071285.html#2Q1buSH2RiugzJ4c.99

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Why does Americas 2 always have a better group than Americas 1. It f-ing sucks that Canada has been Americas 1 for the last decade and a bit and always gets put into a ridiculous group. Much rather play Samoa and Scotland than Italy and Ireland.

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This not so far away prediction sees IMO six countries very capable of taking the cup. A good litmus test is next month's England v NZ series here in NZ. These two teams are considered the strongest of the six for now but as usual its looking like NZ, Aus, SA, Eng, Ire, Fr. With Wales and Argentina the challengers to the top six.

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I would agree with that assessment. Ire, Fra,.Wales and Argentina are potentially capable of an upset but not sure whether they can string several victories together to win the cup.

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France is always by second team in Rugby because its just so unusual for the French to be apart of a sport that is so dominated by the Anglophone world.

I am thinking, and hoping, that given the Olympics the year after this is going to be the most competitive RWC ever.

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Torch Relay-Style Rugby World Cup Trophy Tour Unveiled as England 2015 Marks 500 Days to the Start of the Tournament. Full story here - www.insidethegames.biz/sports/summer/rugby-sevens/1019880-torch-relay-style-rugby-world-cup-trophy-tour-unveiled-as-england-2015-mark-500-days-to-start-of-tournament - Source: Inside the Games.


Sorry Gotosy, didn't realise you already Posted that.

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France is always by second team in Rugby because its just so unusual for the French to be apart of a sport that is so dominated by the Anglophone world.

I am thinking, and hoping, that given the Olympics the year after this is going to be the most competitive RWC ever.

Interesting comments from France's POV. The only mainland European nation to play rugby seriously for years. Also the most unsuccessful finalist. 2011 the closest they'll ever get to winning it if they never do. The Olympics has been a catalyst for a surge in the game, although Sevens is all about speed, no room for slog.

France winning 2015 would leave many satisfied at the idea of 'completing' the row of original first tier champions, you just simply can't read France. They can play an absolute blinder like they did in Quarter final, average in the Semifinal, likes Gods in the Final...And then play abysmally in the six nations...Dangerously unpredictable, just ask the All Blacks. Ffrance is their F word.

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Interesting comments from France's POV. The only mainland European nation to play rugby seriously for years. Also the most unsuccessful finalist. 2011 the closest they'll ever get to winning it if they never do. The Olympics has been a catalyst for a surge in the game, although Sevens is all about speed, no room for slog.

France winning 2015 would leave many satisfied at the idea of 'completing' the row of original first tier champions, you just simply can't read France. They can play an absolute blinder like they did in Quarter final, average in the Semifinal, likes Gods in the Final...And then play abysmally in the six nations...Dangerously unpredictable, just ask the All Blacks. Ffrance is their F word.

Thats right... Never rule out France, they are unpredictable. Although I still doubt they can win three games on the trot in the knockout games. They are an outsider.

Yes sevens has grown, but the 15 aside game is very different!

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This not so far away prediction sees IMO six countries very capable of taking the cup. A good litmus test is next month's England v NZ series here in NZ. These two teams are considered the strongest of the six for now but as usual its looking like NZ, Aus, SA, Eng, Ire, Fr. With Wales and Argentina the challengers to the top six.

As much as I think there's a lot to be excited about in English rugby at the moment, I feel this World Cup will come just too early for us.

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As much as I think there's a lot to be excited about in English rugby at the moment, I feel this World Cup will come just too early for us.

Hmm, I think you're underestimating your team. Two years ago they brought the All Blacks back down to earth with a resounding thud! The annual Twickenham derby is inhanced this year by a rare three test tour of NZ and finally involves matches against Super provincial sides. This series will be the most closely watched as in theory, with Championship Rugby following shortly after, will give a handle on how the top teams are faring. I'm not writing England off, no way, not in a long shot!

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Hmm, I think you're underestimating your team. Two years ago they brought the All Blacks back down to earth with a resounding thud! The annual Twickenham derby is inhanced this year by a rare three test tour of NZ and finally involves matches against Super provincial sides. This series will be the most closely watched as in theory, with Championship Rugby following shortly after, will give a handle on how the top teams are faring. I'm not writing England off, no way, not in a long shot!

I completely agree with you. The English at home will be very tough and I wouldnt be surprised if they make the final.

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Hmm, I think you're underestimating your team. Two years ago they brought the All Blacks back down to earth with a resounding thud! The annual Twickenham derby is inhanced this year by a rare three test tour of NZ and finally involves matches against Super provincial sides. This series will be the most closely watched as in theory, with Championship Rugby following shortly after, will give a handle on how the top teams are faring. I'm not writing England off, no way, not in a long shot!

I'm not writing England off, but I'm perhaps more realistic about the position we're in at the moment. Even before you bear in mind the absolute stinker of a pool we've got with Australia and Wales, I just feel that we're in a similar place to the period around 1999-2000 along the road towards 2003. We can see the progress, but we're not far enough along the road to make winning a World Cup a realistic possibility at this stage. For me, Japan in 2019 is a more realistic target for us.

I think what worries me most at the moment is that, as well as we have done over the last couple of years, we've too often been found wanting in pressure situations. Yes, we gave your lads a good beating in 2012 and served up another humdinger of a game at Twickenham last autumn, but we lost the Six Nations Championship in 2013 by getting thumped in Cardiff and we blew a winning position in Paris this year that ended up costing us a Grand Slam. For the country at large, I think it needs us to win something tangible, be that the series against you lot (as unlikely as that seems to me) or next year's championship for us to be seen as genuine contenders.

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Good points,

Soon find out next month...My hometown hosts the make or break middle Test of the series, I'm definitely going.

The All Blacks were in a similar position five years ago as coaching management sorted tactics etc, and were willing to give up games to find the best fit.

England's is probably doing the same. Next season's 6 Nations will give us a firm inkling of what RWC will look like for the northern teams. England will come right about then. Ireland and Wales do look incredibly strong. But then, along comes France.

If anything though, 2019 looks likely to be a blinder of a RWC.

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