Everything you need to know about the 2019 Rugby World Cup draw and best/worst case scenarios for Ireland
The draw for the 2019 Rugby World Cup will take place in Kyoto on Wednesday with Ireland entering the tournament as a top seed in Band 1 alongside 2003 winners England, two-time winners Australia and defending world champions New Zealand.
Here's everything you need to know about the draw, what it means for Ireland and how you can watch it.
What is it?
The Rugby World Cup draw is where each of the tournament's 12 automatic qualifiers, i.e. the teams that comprise the Six Nations and the Rugby Championship, plus Georgia and host nation Japan, find out what pools they will be placed in for the forthcoming tournament.
Each of the 12 teams have been divided into three separate bands, based on their world ranking, and will be drawn at random into five different pools where one team from each band will be placed into a pool of four teams until all five pools are filled.
The remaining two bands will be made up of the eight qualifying seeds, who will also be drawn into these pools, with allocation to each of these two bands based on performance in the previous Rugby World Cup.
Teams in Bands 4 and 5 will also have to take part in the global qualification process, which began in March 2016 and will conclude in November 2018.
The bands are as follows:
Band 1: The four highest-ranked directly qualified teams
New Zealand (1), England (2), Australia (3), Ireland (4)
Band 2: The next four highest-ranked directly qualified teams
Scotland (5), France (6), South Africa (7), Wales (8)
Band 3: The final four directly qualified teams
Argentina (9), Japan (11), Georgia (12), Italy (15)
Oceania 1, Americas 1, Europe 1, Africa 1
Oceania 2, Americas 2, Play-Off Winner (between Europe 2 and Oceania 3), Repechage Winner
Where is it?
The 2019 draw will take place in the Japanese city of Kyoto, at the Kyoto State Guest House where world leaders are generally welcomed to Japan for official state visits.
In attendance will be World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont, New Zealand Head Coach Steve Hansen, three-time Olympic gold medal winning wrestler Saori Yoshida, and Yoshihiro Sakata, the first Japanese player to be inducted into World Rugby's Hall of Fame.
When is it?
The draw will commence this Wednesday at 5pm local time; 9am for Irish viewers.
How can I watch it?
The draw will be broadcast live on World Rugby's page which be viewed on the Independent Sport Facebook page.
What does this mean for Ireland?
The draw means Ireland will avoid New Zealand, England and Australia in the pool stages. It presents a favourable draw for Ireland where they will be pitted with just one other team ranked inside the top eight teams, and one team ranked between positions nine to twelve
Best case scenario for Ireland
The debacle of the 2007 Rugby World Cup has instilled an ingrained sense of skepticism when it comes to predicting a best case scenario for Ireland's Rugby World Cup pool stages, however, Joe Schmidt's side would ideally want to draw either Scotland or France from Band 2 and anyone but Argentina from Band 3.
Ireland have won four of their last five games against both Scotland and France, whilst winning just once from their last five against Wales, and just twice in the same amount of games against South Africa.
Ireland have actually beaten Argentina five times from their last six attempts, however, painful memories from three different Rugby World Cups will make the Pumas a team Ireland will want to avoid on Wednesday.