THE COUNTDOWN to the kick off of the world’s third biggest sporting event continued as volunteers went through their final interviews yesterday.

The 2015 Rugby World Cup’s Try Out sessions were held at the University of Brighton yesterday with hopefuls staking a final claim to be part of the tournament, which has the third biggest global audience of any sporting event.

More than 20,000 have applied for volunteer positions, similar to London 2012 Game Makers, with only 6,000 spaces up for grabs across the country.

England Women’s star Michaela Staniford said: “There are so many people here with a love for rugby and the volunteers are what’s going to make the World Cup great.

“They will be massive to the success of it all and the fact that 20,000 people have applied for 6,000 positions show how excited people are about rugby.”

The winger, who was first capped for England as an 18-year-old, was at yesterday’s event with Wasps team-mate Claire Purdy, who started her rugby career as a prop at the University of Chichester.

Both have played at Rugby World Cups.

Staniford said: “It’s really special. It’s difficult to explain just how it feels until you have been there and done it.

“A World Cup is the pinnacle of any rugby player’s career and when you put that together with all the work you put in to get there and trying to make sure you’re successful – it’s an incredible journey.”

Rugby fan Derek Johnson, 59, from Hurst Green, who said: “I’m a former Brighton and Hove athlete. I’ve appeared in The Argus a number of times in the past and this is my chance to give something back to sport.

“I did the Olympics and I’m doing the Commonwealth Games and the five minute standing ovation we got at London 2012 just goes to show how important volunteers are.”

Mary Cahill, Try Out team manager, was thrilled that more than 85% of potential volunteers turned up for the day – higher than the national average – which she said encapsulated the county’s love for rugby.

MP for Brighton Kemptown Simon Kirby was at the event and was as excited as the volunteers for the tournament’s kick off.

He said: “We’ve got two great rugby clubs in the city and loads in Sussex.

“People in the county love their sport and I just cannot wait for it to start – it’s going to be the most fantastic event.”