Tuesday 12 December 2017

Rugby World Cup 2019: Ireland to face Japan and Scotland while England in 'pool of death'

Joe Schmidt in Kyoto today
Joe Schmidt in Kyoto today
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Ireland have been drawn against Japan and Scotland in Pool A for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.

The draw was made this morning at the Kyoto State Guest House in Japan.

For the first time in tournament history, Ireland were among the top seeds and avoided the likes of the All Blacks, Australia and Six Nations champions England as a result.

Ireland have beaten Japan in all their five Test meetings and the side's will face each other twice next month.

"We play Ireland in June and that will give us an idea. Japan have never beaten Ireland or Scotland," Japan head coach Jamie Joseph said.

"Any pool that we were going to get put in will be a big challenge, but now we can start our planning."

Japan caused a massive upset in the last World Cup when they lowered the colours of the Springboks in the Pool stages, while Scotland's victory over Joe Schmidt's men in this year's Six Nations at Murrayfield illustrated how dangerous Gregor Townsend's side are.

Ireland will fancy their chances of topping the group and making it to a Rugby World Cup semi-final for the first time in their history.

Ireland will also be joined in Pool A by a European qualifier, most likely to be either Romania or Russia, and the playoff winner from the global qualifiers, this means that they will avoid a tricky encounter against the likes of Pacific Island powerhouses Samoa and Fiji.

Speaking after the draw, Schmidt said: "I think they are all good, bad and ugly. I think it's very hard to assess where teams are going to be in two year's time for example.

"The upward curve that Japan have taken in recent times, they got very close to beating Wales at the Millennium Stadium last autumn and their heroics at the last world cup were pretty spectacular.

"We lost to Scotland recently, so it's a mixed bag but I think it's incredibly exciting to draw the host nation.

"The crowd, the enthusiasm and the interest in that game is going to be huge."

England failed to emerge from their pool at the 2015 world cup and they have been drawn in the Pool of Death again, this time alongside France and Argentina in Pool C.

Reigning champions New Zealand will be short-priced tournament favourites in 2019 and are in Pool B with Conor O'Shea's Italy and southern hemisphere rivals South Africa.

Michael Cheika's Australia will face Warren Gatland's Wales in Pool D, for the second successive Rugby World Cup, alongside Georgia.

More to follow

2019 RUGBY WORLD CUP DRAW

Pool A - Ireland, Scotland, Japan, Europe 1, play-off winner.

Pool B - New Zealand, South Africa, Italy, Africa 1, repechage winner.

Pool C - England, France, Argentina, Americas 1, Oceania 2.

Pool D - Australia, Wales, Georgia, Americas 2, Oceania 1.

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