3 May 2013

All Blacks face Argentina first up in 2015 World Cup

8:40 am on 3 May 2013

The match schedule for the next Rugby World Cup in England and Wales is out.

The All Blacks join Argentina, Tonga, Europe 1 and Africa 1 in Pool C, and the Cup holders open their campaign to defend their title against the Pumas at London's Wembley Stadium on September the 21st, 2015.

New Zealand next face an as-yet undecided African side next up four days later at London's Olympic Stadium before moving to Cardiff's Millennium Stadium for their third match against a European minnow on October the 3rd.

The final pool match is against Tonga on October the 10th at St James Park in Newcastle.

London's Olympic Stadium will host four pool matches and the third-place playoff, while England will briefly leave their Twickenham base to play at Manchester City's Etihad Stadium.

Of the venues, eight are football stadiums, one multi-use and just four are rugby grounds, including Twickenham, which will also host two quarter-finals, both semis and the final on November the 1st, and the Millennium.

The two other rugby grounds are Exeter's Sandy Park and Gloucester's Kingsholm, while the other host venues are all football grounds - Elland Road in Leeds, Leicester's King Power Stadium, Villa Park in Birmingham, Stadium MK at Milton Keynes and Brighton's Amex Stadium.

The schedule finally gives the lesser nations a fair crack of the whip after years of having to operate on minimal rest while the sport's big guns routinely had a week between fixtures.

England will kick off the tournament against Oceania 1, probably Fiji, at Twickenham on September 19th and will also play against a repechage qualifier at the Etihad Stadium, which was drafted in after Old Trafford pulled out but will host only one game.

Wales are in a tough Pool A against England and Australia, who they'll play at Twickenham.

The Welsh will grace their Cardiff home only in two pool games, against a playoff winner and the top Oceania team, and cannot play there in the knockout phase.

The Wallabies will also play matches in Cardiff and Birmingham, against yet-to-be-determined opponents from Oceania, most likely Fiji, and a European qualifying team at Villa Park.

France face a European qualifier in the first match held at the Olympic Stadium, which is likely to have a capacity of between 55,000 to 60,000 as it undergoes development to become West Ham United's new home.