By Malcolm Hughes

The first stage of the 2015 Rugby World Cup tournament is now completed after the final group games were played over the weekend of 10 and 11 October 2015. Only England - the hosts - of the leading nations failed to qualify for the quarter finals and there was limited enthusiasm for their final match against the amateurs of Uruguay which took place at Manchester City's home ground, the Etihad Stadium. Tickets for the match which originally were priced at up to £250 were being offered on resale websites for as little as £2.50 so it was clear that many supporters chose to vote with their feet.

However, there was plenty of excitement in the remaining group matches, with the major contest of Australia against Wales producing a group winner. There were no tries in the match between the Wallabies and Wales at Twickenham but it was one of the best games so far in the tournament, with the Australian defence demonstrating their strength when having to defend for 7 minutes lacking two players who had been yellow-carded. Heavy Welsh pressure could not breach the Australian defensive line and the latter's win earned them a quarter final against Scotland whilst Wales must regather to face South Africa who have improved tremendously since losing their first game to Japan.

The other heavyweight contest from the final round of group matches saw Ireland win a very physical contest against France at the Millenium Stadium in Cardiff. Whilst the win for Ireland means they avoid New Zealand in the quarter final it came at a high cost, with a serious injury for Paul O'Connell ruling the captain out for the rest of the tournament and their star player, fly half Jonny Sexton also taken off at an early stage of the match. Ireland now play Argentina whilst France are the next team to try and halt the advance of the All Blacks.

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