The tournament runs from 18 September-31 October, and will be played at 12 stadiums in England, including Twickenham, and one in Wales. There are 20 teams, from the giants of the game (New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, France, the home nations) to the minnows (Namibia, Georgia, Uruguay, the US).
Who’s playing who?
The top two teams from each of the four seeded pools go through to the quarter-finals. Then it’s a knockout. Pool A is the “pool of death”: Australia, England, Wales, Fiji and Uruguay. South Africa, New Zealand, Argentina, Ireland and France should qualify for the last eight.
Watch out for
New Zealand v Argentina (20 September)
England v Wales (26 September)
England v Australia (3 October)
South Africa v Scotland (3 October)
Australia v Wales (10 October)
France v Ireland (11 October)
Matches will be broadcast on ITV and S4C.
Forwards: large men who wrestle for the ball in rucks, mauls and scrums.
Props: square men who hold the scrum together.
Hooker: the player in the scrum who nudges the ball backwards.
Scrum-half: annoying character who hangs about behind the scrum.
Fly-half: key playmaker who receives the ball from the scrum-half.
Backs: players who line up behind the forwards, waiting for the chance to run at the opposition.
Players to watch
Israel Folau, Australia’s free-scoring full-back.
Richie McCaw, All Blacks captain.
George North, mighty Welsh winger.
Bismarck du Plessis, South African hooker, named after a battleship and built like one.
Chris Robshaw, England captain.
Johnny Sexton, Ireland’s mercurial fly-half.
Words to drop into conversation
Conversion: the kick at goal you get if you score a try (worth two points; a try is five).
Gain-line: an imaginary line the players try to cross to gain territorial advantage.
Garryowen: a high kick towards the opposition tryline.
Sin bin: where players who commit bad fouls are sent for 10 minutes.
Spear tackle: a dangerous tackle, where a player picks up an opponent and plunges him head first into the turf (perpetrators will be banished completely).