Who will Lady Luck favour at World Cup draw?

Tue, 09 May 2017 05:57
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PREVIEW: Rugby's leading nations will be hoping for a big slice of luck at Wednesday's 2019 World Cup draw, where seedings stacked with dangerous teams could throw up more than one 'Pool of Death'.

More than two years before the tournament in Japan, the draw ceremony in historic Kyoto could go a long way to deciding who will lift the trophy in Yokohama on November 2, 2019.

England fell victim to a nightmare scenario at the last World Cup, where the hosts failed to reach the knock-out stages after being drawn against Wales, Australia, Fiji and Uruguay.

This time around, for the tournament's first edition in Asia, New Zealand, England, Australia and Ireland make up the top seeds to be divided among the four pools of five.

The second band of seeds is Scotland, Wales, South Africa and France, while the third contains dangerous floaters in Argentina, the 2015 semifinalists, Georgia, Italy and hosts Japan.

Another eight teams from Oceania, Europe, the Americas and Africa will be added after qualifying, with 10th-ranked Fiji, Tonga and Samoa among the leading contenders.

It raises the possibility of New Zealand, the two-time defending champions, South Africa, Argentina and Samoa all landing in the same pool, along with a host of other treacherous combinations.

A strong showing by Japan is considered crucial for attendances and atmosphere as the World Cup arrives, for the first time, in a country where rugby isn't a mainstream sport.

But the Brave Blossoms, who stunned South Africa at the last World Cup, are bullish, with wing Akihito Yamada saying he hoped to draw England and their former Japan coach Eddie Jones.

"I'd like to get Eddie's team, England. I want him to see Japan's new style of rugby after four years," insisted Yamada.

Captain Shota Horie said: "All the teams will be strong so I don't have any real preferred opposition. The first game will be key so we will prepare for that as if our lives depend on it." 

Steve Hansen's New Zealand are striving to complete a hat-trick of World Cup victories, while England, up to second in the rankings under Jones, are dreaming of ending the All Blacks' dominance.

South Africa, Australia, Wales and France are likely to be revamped and revitalised by 2019, while Argentina and Japan will look to build on their successes of 2015.

Rugby is striving to make inroads into Asia, including China, where World Rugby announced a $100 million investment from an offshoot of an e-commerce giant, last year. 

Participation in Asia has almost doubled since 2009 to more than 500 000 players, according to the governing body, which hopes to have one million new players in the region by 2019.

The World Cup will be played in 12 stadiums across Japan, with 75 percent of the population living within an hour's drive from a match venue, organisers say.

Seedings for Wednesday's draw:

Band One: New Zealand, England, Australia, Ireland 
Band Two: Scotland, Wales, South Africa, France 
Band Three: Argentina, Japan, Georgia, Italy
Band Four: Oceania 1, Americas 1, Europe 1, Africa 1 
Band Five: Oceania 2, Americas 2, Winner of play-off between Europe 2 and Oceania 3, Repechage Winner

Agence France-Presse

Bulls vs Hurricanes
sast: 17h15 | local: 17h15

  • 8 | 12
LIVE
Ireland vs Wales
sast: 16h15 | local: 14h15

  • 27 | 20
LIVE
FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Sat, 24 February 2018
Treviso v Connacht 12h00 Stadio Monigo
Exeter Chiefs v Northampton Saints 14h00 Sandy Park
Bath v Sale Sharks 14h30 Recreation Ground
Gloucester v Wasps 14h30 Kingsholm
Harlequins v Newcastle Falcons 14h30 Twickenham Stoop
Scotland v England 16h45 BT Murrayfield
Ospreys v Cheetahs 17h30 Liberty Stadium
Scarlets v Ulster 19h35 Parc y Scarlets
Sun, 25 February 2018
Zebre v Cardiff Blues 13h00 Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi
London Irish v Worcester Warriors 13h00 Madejski Stadium
Saracens v Leicester Tigers 15h30 Allianz Park
Fri, 02 March 2018
Blues v Chiefs 06h35 Eden Park
Reds v Brumbies 09h00 Suncorp Stadium
Kings v Dragons 17h35 Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium
Ulster v Glasgow Warriors 19h35 Kingspan Stadium
Edinburgh v Munster 19h35 Myreside
Cardiff Blues v Treviso 19h35 Cardiff Arms Park
Harlequins v Bath 19h45 Twickenham Stoop
Sat, 03 March 2018
Sunwolves v Rebels 22h00 Tokyo
Crusaders v Stormers 06h35 Christchurch
Sharks v Waratahs 13h05 Kings Park
RESULT SCORE
Sat, 24 February 2018
Lions v Jaguares 47 | 27
Waratahs v Stormers 34 | 27
Crusaders v Chiefs 45 | 23
Sunwolves v Brumbies 25 | 32
Fri, 23 February 2018
France v Italy 34 | 17
Leinster v Kings 64 | 7
Dragons v Edinburgh 12 | 25
Munster v Glasgow Warriors 21 | 10
Rebels v Reds 45 | 19
Highlanders v Blues 41 | 34
Mon, 19 February 2018
NWU-Pukke v UJ 18 | 15
Maties v CUT-Ixias 75 | 12
UCT-Ikeys v Shimlas 27 | 32
NMMU-Madibaz v Wits 29 | 32
Sun, 18 February 2018
Dragons v Treviso 15 | 18
WORLD CUP
MORE LOGS
Pool A
Team P W D L Pts
Australia 4 4 0 0 17
Wales 4 3 0 1 13
England 4 2 0 2 11
Fiji 4 1 0 3 5
Uruguay 4 0 0 4 0
Pool B
Team P W D L Pts
South Africa 4 3 0 1 16
Scotland 4 3 0 1 14
Japan 4 3 0 1 12
Samoa 4 1 0 3 6
United States 4 0 0 4 0
Pool C
Team P W D L Pts
New Zealand 4 4 0 0 19
Argentina 4 3 0 1 15
Georgia 4 2 0 2 8
Tonga 4 1 0 3 6
Namibia 4 0 0 4 1
Pool D
Team P W D L Pts
Ireland 4 4 0 0 18
France 4 3 0 1 14
Italy 4 2 0 2 10
Romania 4 1 0 3 4
Canada 4 0 0 4 2