Friday 19 January 2018

Kind draw gives us fighting chance of place in last four

Tony Ward

Tony Ward

Far be it for us to be demeaning of the process, but the 'Madhatter's Draw' for RWC 2015 has treated us well. We know the logistical reasons – travel, hotel arrangements, etc – why the four-yearly pull takes place three years out from the next competition, but there has to be a more realistic way of doing it.

That said, we'll take our chances and run in a pool dominated by familiar Six Nations opponents.

Not for a minute are we suggesting the French are beatable (given our horrendous record against them over very many years), but a draw in which we have avoided all three southern hemisphere superpowers – with the added incentive of meeting Argentina (should we win Pool D) in the quarter-final – is mouth-watering.

Even then, it would be most likely Australia in the semi-final should we make it that far in the global event for the first time ever.

As for host nation England, after the high of Saturday's win over the All Blacks, they could scarcely have scripted a more nightmarish route after being drawn out by the English RFU's CEO Debbie Jevans (left). It takes in the Wallabies, Wales and, most probably, a fully loaded Fiji, followed by the Springboks in the quarter-final and All Blacks in the semi-final should they make it that far.

With home advantage, there is one way of avoiding the route from hell and that is by topping Pool A.

Even at this distance, the scenario for Ireland looks set in stone: beat France and we avoid New Zealand. Lose to the French and it's curtains at the quarter-final stage yet again. The draw's been good. Bring it on.

Irish Independent

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