By Malcolm Hughes

After all the long build-up, the 2015 Rugby World Cup finally kicked off with a highly entertaining and impactful opening ceremony at Twickenham ahead of the tournament's opening game in which England as hosts beat Fiji. Although the final scoreline with a bonus point win for England suggests it was a comfortable victory, this was a match which raised more questions about the host's chances of winning the competition. Indeed, only after the replacements emerged from the bench for the last 20 minutes did England look to have more penetration and attacking threat leading to coach Stuart Lancaster making significant selection changes - especially dropping George Ford in favour of Owen Farrell - for the critical encounter with Wales.

But if England thought they had problems, these are as nothing compared to those faced by South Africa, another of the tournament heavyweights who were on the receiving end of one of the greatest sporting upsets of all time when they were beaten by Japan. For the first time, international rugby came to Brighton where the Springboks appeared to have no answer to the fast and skilful approach from the Brave Blossoms whose name captured the spirit in which they played and which has made them every rugby supporter's second favourite team. Sadly, the tournament organisers did Japan no favours by making them play a second game against a Tier 1 nation within 4 days and unsurprisingly they ran out of steam against a fresh Scotland side who won comfortably at Gloucester.

For the other home nations, Wales and Ireland had routine high scoring wins against Uruguay and Canada respectively but for Wales this came at a high cost with further injuries during the game forcing another two players to drop out of a squad already suffering from the loss of key players like Leigh Halfpenny. The tournament favourites New Zealand had a relatively untroubled start by beating both Argentina and Namibia and look well set to be the team to beat. A highlight from their match at Wembley was the yellow card given to captain Richie McCaw which prompted the partisan crowd to boo him every time his picture flashed up on the stadium screens. Overall, it has been a very good first week for the 2015 Rugby World Cup with the promise of plenty more excitement in the week ahead.

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