18 Sep 2015

The build-up's nearly over, let the games begin!

7:10 am on 18 September 2015

The stage is finally set for kick-off in the Rugby World Cup, with the tournament hosts England taking on Fiji in tomorrow's opening match at Twickenham.

England's Jonny Wilkinson offers the lid of the Rugby World Cup to coach Clive Woodward after winning the 2003 tournament.

England's Jonny Wilkinson offers the lid of the Rugby World Cup to coach Clive Woodward after winning the 2003 tournament. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

There will be plenty of interest in the match, with both sides desperate to get a good start - and get the best chance to be one of the two teams that will make it out of the so-called 'Group of Death'.

While most of the talk about Pool A has revolved around England, Australia and Wales, English coach Stuart Lancaster was well aware of the threat they will face from the Fijians, who have twice reached the quarter-finals and have been in impressive form recently.

"We've done our analysis as thoroughly as we will do against Wales or Australia because of their record now," Lancaster said.

"I don't think they've been beaten in a long time and when you put it into a world ranking context, they're higher than Scotland in the world rankings and just behind Argentina."

The Fijians know how tough it will be to get a result in the opener, with the large majority of fans at the home of rugby likely to be cheering against them.

But captain Akapusi Qera said the Pacific Nations champions were not just there to make up the numbers in Pool A.

"The mentality for every sport is to try to win every game if possible and for us as a group moving forward, that's the mentality we want to take as well and we're looking forward to the big challenge that is ahead of us," Qera told reporters this week.

The match will be preceded by the opening ceremony, a 20-minute performance telling the story of the birth of rugby.

The managing director of England 2015, Stephen Brown, said it had been challenging logistically, but he thought they had managed to put together a memorable show to launch the tournament.

"You've got 20 minutes to put on a welcome show that's got to be spectacular and a big celebration of the event," Brown told Radio New Zealand.

"But then you've got to play some rugby straight afterwards as well, so you need to get it all cleared off the pitch, make sure the pitch is in good shape and then get on with the match.

"But our groundsman's happy. So if he's happy, everyone's happy and we're good to go."

The match will be played in front of a sold out crowd of 82 thousand, while the All Blacks' opener against Argentina at Wembley Stadium on Monday is set to break the record for World Cup attendance, with more than 90 thousand expected.

With more than 95 percent of the total tickets sold, World Rugby chief executive Brett Gosper said the tournament would be much more profitable than the 2011 edition in New Zealand.

"In terms of commercial revenues they've grown about 60 percent since the last World Cup," he said.

"We're targeting around 240 million (pounds) of total commercial revenue, about 65 percent of that is from television and we're expecting a surplus to be invested back into World Rugby of about 150 million pounds."

Gosper said the tournament will be broadcast in 203 countries globally.