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Rugby World cup 2011 Pools

Rugby World Cup Pools Overview - Pool A | Pool B | Pool C | Pool D

A glance at the teams competing in the 2011 Rugby World Cup which runs from September 9 to October 23 with Pool B.

Pool B

Argentina

IRB ranking (as of Aug 15): 8

World Cup appearances (inc 2011): 7

World Cup best: Third-place 2007

One of the stand-out performances in 2007 came from Argentina who broke through as a real contender in the world game, beating France twice on home soil as well as Ireland and Scotland on their way to third place. The Pumas had truly arrived, combining their traditionally powerful scrummaging with some canny back play, led by the outstanding Felipe Contepomi. The problem for Argentina remains a lack of international competition - no tests between their November 2010 tour when they lost to France and Ireland and their first World Cup warm-up match against Wales in August. The upside is that their squad is largely Europe-based and players like Juan Fernandez Lobbe, Patricio Abacete, Mario Ledesma and Contepomi have all been playing at a high standard.

England

IRB ranking: 5

World Cup appearances: 7

World Cup best: Winners 2003

For all the bluff from the southern hemisphere countries that European rugby is second-rate, there is no doubt that New Zealand, Australia and South Africa will be keeping a very wary eye on England. At their best, Martin Johnson's team is a powerful, destructive unit as the Wallabies found out twice in 2010. But the side is still under construction and the World Cup may be coming a year too soon. England's capitulation in Dublin when a Grand Slam was in the offing was testament to their inexperience when a team plays in their face. For all their faults, the Six Nations champions have pedigree as a tournament team, winning in 2003 and then coming back from a 36-0 thrashing by South Africa to reach the final in 2007. Only a fool would rule them out.

Georgia

IRB ranking: 15

World Cup appearances: 3

World Cup best: Pool stages

The rise of rugby in Georgia should be a template for all budding nations. In 20 years, they have climbed from being a crumbling corner of the Soviet Union to the 15th best side in the world and the best in Europe outside the Six Nations, winning the European Nations Cup first division for a fourth time in March. Georgia lost every game in 2003 but in the last edition they beat Namibia and were unlucky to lose 14-10 to Ireland. The Georgians are particularly strong up front with several players featuring in France's Top 14, notably their lock/number eight Mamuka Gorgodze, nicknamed Godzilla by the French press. Their coach Richie Dixon will particularly look forward to the meeting with his native Scotland.

Romania

IRB ranking: 18

World Cup appearances: 7

World Cup best: Pool stages

Once upon a time Romania were considered possible contenders for an enlarged Five Nations championship. Then communism collapsed, the game turned professional and with rugby on the slide, Italy got the nod instead. Romania is still struggling to return to the heights of the 1980s but they will certainly not roll over at the World Cup. They have been ever-present since 1987 and, apart from 1995, they have won a game at every tournament. Coach Romeo Gontineac has called on former All Black Steve McDowell to energise the forwards among whom resides the formidable Perpignan hooker Marius Tincu. Their key game will be against Georgia who have usurped them as number one European team outside the Six Nations.

Scotland

IRB ranking: 9

World Cup appearances: 7

World Cup best: Semi-finals 1991

Scotland will go into the pool stages with some confidence, having beaten Argentina twice on tour in 2010 and knowing they still have the power -away from Twickenham - to put the hex on England. Andy Robinson's side have a veneer of talent with the 2.08m lock Richie Gray emerging as a major find this year, while older hands such as full-back Chris Paterson and centre Joe Ansbro will also be important figures. But the depth is not as it was 20 years ago when they came within a wobbly Gavin Hastings penalty of reaching the final - only a victory over Italy in their final game saw them escape the wooden spoon in this year's Six Nations. Even so, a result against either Argentina or England, should be enough to see them into the last eight.

 
 
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