The countdown is on! With just a year to go before Rugby World Cup 2015 kicks off in front of a capacity crowd at Twickenham, now's the time to start planning your trip to one of world sport's most eagerly anticipated events. And with Australia expected to provide a genuine challenge to host nation England and reigning champions New Zealand, you can be sure it'll be well worth the wait.
When Australia captain John Eales hoisted the Webb Ellis Cup aloft at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff in 1999, it could have signalled the start of a dynasty. After all, it was Australia's second World Cup win in eight years. However, as a near 12-year World Cup trophy drought suggests, winning the Tournament is easier said than done – particularly with so many big names standing in the way.
England fly-half Jonny Wilkinson broke millions of Australian hearts when his drop goal in extra-time secured an unforgettable 2003 title win in Sydney. The hosts will naturally prove tough to beat on home soil this time around, but there's never been a better chance for Australia to avenge that painful defeat than in Rugby's spiritual homeland.
England may be heavily backed, but reigning champions New Zealand will have plenty to say about just where the Webb Ellis Cup is headed next. In fact, with Australia drawn in the same pool as England and the battle-hardened Kiwis desperate to retain the title, there's a good chance this may be the most ferociously contested Rugby World Cup yet. Throw in the likes of South Africa, France and Wales and it's clear the action will be as fierce as it is fanatically followed.
"The Rugby World Cup is special because it will be the biggest international sporting event in 2015," says respected Rugby journalist Spiro Zavos. "The best teams will battle it out in the country that gave the world the splendid game that is played by six million participants in over 100 countries."
It's this kind of international interest which will ensure that venues across England – and the Millennium Stadium in Wales – are packed to capacity for the duration of the Tournament. And when England fans stand as one to belt out traditional anthem "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" at Twickenham, there's surely no better place in the world for Rugby fans to be.
While the English are no doubt desperate to reprise their heroics of 2003, a trio of international Rugby's genuine giants have more reason than most to try and win the Tournament. "Australia, New Zealand and South Africa are the three two-time winners of the Webb Ellis trophy," Zavos explains. "If one of these sides win the final at Twickenham, they get to keep the original trophy."
"Imagine being there as an Australian or New Zealander and seeing history being made as the Wallabies or the All Blacks win their third tournament and get to take 'Bill' to a permanent residence back home!"
The general sale for Rugby World Cup tickets commenced on September 12, with the sales period set to end on September 29. And with demand expected to exceed supply – in which case tickets will be allocated via a random ballot – one of the best ways to guarantee your seat at the ground is by purchasing an exclusive travel package.
Not only has Flight Centre secured some of the Tournament's best seats, you can also combine your trip with visits to some of England's – and indeed Europe's – most popular tourist attractions. With accommodation included at an event expected to attract tens of thousands of fans, you can rest assured that with a year to go until Rugby World Cup 2015 kicks off, all you need to do is decide which is the right travel package for you.