In a live presentation from Kyoto, Japan, World Rugby have confirmed the 2019 Rugby World Cup pools and teams who will battle for the Webb Ellis Cup.
Pools Drawn for 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan
With dignitaries from the host nation Japan, and including World Rugby representatives and coaches from many competing nations, the pools draw was streamed live across many channels. Last Word on Rugby joined thousands of others, who were interested in the final make-up of the pinnacle of the sport.
Teams already qualified (by their finishing place at the 2015 event) are:
- New Zealand
- South Africa
Those sides are joined by eight teams who will qualify over the next two years.
— Rugby World Cup (@rugbyworldcup) May 9, 2017
World Rugby Draw Sees Teams in Four Pools
From the 20 teams who will compete in the Japan event, there are four pools of five teams. Every side will play four pool games, to qualify for the knock-out stages of the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
The host Japan gained automatic entry, although with their terrific achievements of 2015 under coach Eddie Jones, the ‘Brave Blossoms’ truly earned their place.
Official draw made:
Japan lead Pool A, with Scotland, Ireland and the Play-off winner and Europe 1 qualifier to be announced.
In Pool B, the big boys were drawn together; South Africa and New Zealand. They will meet Italy and the Repecharge winner and Africa 1 qualifier.
Pool C saw the most focus, with Argentina, France and England the big names here. They will compete against Americas 1 and the Oceania 2 qualifier.
And finally, Pool D will have the ever improving Georgia, Wales and Australia lead that group, beside Oceania 1 and Americas 2.
— Rugby World Cup (@rugbyworldcup) May 10, 2017
With the pools now formalized, the 12 qualified sides can set about planning for their respective Pool opponents. With the final eight sides still to be confirmed, which teams are likely to qualify?
Fiji should rate highly, as would the United States. Namibia will hope to continue their record at World Cups, but from Europe there could be a wildcard–Hungary.
Will New Zealand Be Able to Hold Onto the Webb Ellis Cup?
As a part of the presentation, All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen will have felt a little embarrassed by the limelight–but his team shouldn’t. As the first back-to-back champions, and leading the World Rugby rankings, it will take another side to ‘cut them down’.
Will Steve Hansen give somebody else a chance to lift this trophy in 2019? ?
— Ultimate Rugby (@ultimaterugby) May 10, 2017
However, the British and Irish Lions will be forefront on the World Champions horizon, so expect that contest to be a step on the road to Japan 2019.
As Hansen now entertains the pool match against South Africa, the permutations of the knockout stages will also be known. Pool A top qualifier will face the second qualifier in Pool B quarter-finals, likewise the top qualifier in Pool C and D will look to progress. Thus, the semi-final outlook could see Australia and New Zealand clash, or it might be England? So for those nations, the ‘luck of the draw’ now see’s them on opposite sides of the draw.
And while 2019 Rugby World Cup is still two years away, some teams will already have their objectives set out. June International matches are only weeks away, and then the end of year November International window opens. In stages, teams will slowly climb towards the peak of Japan. And it will be a hugely exciting and momentous occasion. The first tournament held in Asia, and the hosts will look to be well prepared–as the teams shall be.