Stuart Lancaster
After years of planning Lancaster takes his England team into a home World Cup. Getty Images

Tournament hosts England kick off the eighth Rugby World Cup in their first Pool A match against Fiji at Twickenham.

Where to watch

England vs Fiji kicks off at 8pm BST, following the opening ceremony, on Friday 18 September. Live coverage is available on ITV HD and BBC Radio Five Live.


England raise the curtain on the biggest Rugby World Cup in history by kicking the tournament off against Fiji at Twickenham. After four years of preparation, Stuart Lancaster's plans will get a rugged test in the clash with the Pacific islanders.

In a Pool A where there is no margin for error, England can ill-afford to start slowly. Now a fully professional outfit and not just a team built on the foundations of their Sevens reputation, with a fully fledged pack that can set up attacks, Fiji are not to be underestimated.

George Ford
Much rests on the performances of the diminutive George Ford Getty Images

Coach John McKee has played heavily on his team's position at underdogs both in this opening fixture and in the group, where they are expected to be swept aside. The reality is that placed ninth in the IRB world rankings, above Scotland and Samoa, the Fijians are more than a match for their illustrious opponents.

Though defeating Wales in 2007 represents evidence Fiji have the capacity to cause a shock, victory in the Pacific Nations Cup means they go into the showcase event with silverware. It is a status adversaries England can only dream of.

Lancaster's team may need to absorb every sinew of support if they are to be victorious come 31 October. Despite years of groundwork, England enter the competition significantly inexperienced for a team with designs on victory.

Nemani Nadolo
Key man Nemani Nadolo faces a race against time to be fit for the England clash Getty Images

While youthful exuberance counts for plenty in elite sport, in a tournament spanning over six weeks it may only get England so far. With Australia and Wales representing credible opposition at the group phase, there is also no time to learn on the job.

An inability to claim a Six Nations title, never mind a grand slam, during Lancaster's reign is a concern for a team who must show ruthless aggression in order to prevail on home turf. An absence of silverware is, however, offset against their formidable record at home, where only South Africa have escaped without being defeated since the ill-fated 2011 tournament.


England: 15. Mike Brown; 14. Anthony Watson; 13. Jonathan Joseph; 12. Brad Barritt; 11. Jonny May; 10. George Ford; 9. Ben Youngs; 1. Joe Marler; 2. Tom Youngs; 3. Dan Cole; 4. Courtney Lawes; 5. Geoff Parling; 6. Tom Wood; 7. Chris Robshaw; 8. Ben Morgan

Replacements: 16. Rob Webber; 17. Mako Vunipola; 18. Kieran Brookes; 19. Joe Launchbury; 20. Billy Vunipola; 21. Richard Wigglesworth; 22. Owen Farrell; 23. Sam Burgess

Fiji: 15. Metuisela Talebula; 14. Waisea Nayacalevu, 13. Vereniki Goneva, 12. Gabiriele Lovobalavu, 11. Nemani Nadolo; 10. Ben Volavola, 9. Nikola Matawalu; 1. Campese Ma'afu, 2. Sunia Koto, 3. Manasa Saulo; 4. Apisalome Ratuniyarawa, 5. Leone Nakarawa; 6. Dominiko Waqaniburotu, 7. Akapusi Qera, 8. Sakiusa Masi Matadigo.

Replacements: 16. Tuapati Talemaitoga, 17. Peni Ravai, 18. Isei Colati, 19. Tevita Cavubati, 20. Peceli Yato, 22. Nemia Kenatale, Joshua Matavesi, Asaeli Tikoirotuma.

What the coaches say

Stuart Lancaster: "We have an experienced team who are good enough and old enough to go well in this tournament, no doubt. I was trying to build their belief that they can go on and win the tournament. Not in an arrogant way, in a positive way. Why would we do all the work and get here and then think: 'Can we, can't we?' We've just got to believe we can.

"It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play a World Cup at home in England. The energy a crowd can give the team is huge and it makes it doubly difficult for the opposition. It has to be an extra level of motivation. We are not as front-foot as we should be in our pride at being English.

"You have to turn that weight of expectation into a positive. It is down to me to tell them to go and experience the time of their lives, to be positive about the rugby they play and not hold them accountable for every little mistake. We will try and keep it business as usual this week but we also need to ramp it up at some point as it's not a normal game."

John McKee
New Zealander McKee is playing down Fiji's chances. Getty Images

John McKee: "Our players have a fierce pride in representing their country. It's the societal traditions they have. Western societies have become very individualistic whereas Fijian society is still very much based on the vanua, which is where they come from, and their family-based values. It makes team-building easy.

"I imagine England have very high goals for the competition and with that comes pressure. Maybe there's more pressure on England in the opening game than there is on Fiji. We're not expected to win, which eases the pressure on us.

"I believe we are good enough to make the play-offs. Yes, we have a mountain to climb, but if we can bring our best game we can challenge these teams."