Published: Thu, May 18, 2017
Sport | By Noel Norman

How the 2019 Rugby World Cup could play out

New Zealand, who went on to retain the trophy against Australia in the final, and South Africa, who won the tournament in 1995, have been drawn alongside Italy as well as two unknown qualifiers from the Americas continent and a repechage round victor.

The draw for Japan 2019 has been far kinder to Wales, who have been matched alongside Australia, Georgia and two qualifiers, most likely Fiji and Canada. "It's not a tough group, it's a good group", Jones said. Japan's only loss in the 2015 World Cup pool stage was to Scotland, thanks to an unhelpful draw.

Japan coach Jamie Joseph said: "Japan haven't beaten Ireland or Scotland to date, so it is going to be a big challenge, but any group we got was going to be a challenge". We will focus on our journey towards the RWC 2019 and make sure we are ready and well prepared. Ireland are the top seeds in the pool, which will be completed by two qualifiers yet to be decided.

Meanwhile, World Rugby's ruling council, meeting in Kyoto ahead of the draw, agreed to change the worldwide residency criterion for players from three years to five years.

The 2003 champions face another tough start against old enemies France and Argentina, who have reached the semi-finals at two of the last three World Cups, but coach Eddie Jones scoffed at the idea it was anything like a deadly draw.

No team has ever lost in the pool stage and gone on to win the trophy outright.

In Pool B, New Zealand, South Africa and Italy were thrown in together.

Wales were drawn in pool D - alongside Australia for a second successive World Cup - Georgia, "Oceania 1" and "Americas 2", while Scotland and Ireland are in pool A, alongside Japan, "Europe 1" and "play-off winner".

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"No one wants to get ahead of themselves but you need to be right for the finals".

"We've been working hard since arriving back from the 2016 outgoing tour to ensure improved results from now on forward, with the Rugby World Cup on the distant horizon".

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said their Pool B match-up against South Africa would now give their annual Rugby Championship games extra meaning.

The victor of the All Blacks pool will face the runner up in Pool A that includes Ireland, Scotland and Japan.

England failed to advance from their "group of hell" in 2015, becoming the first hosts to exit before the knockout stage.

Band two contained Scotland, France, South Africa and Wales - the teams now ranked fifth to eighth - and band three was made up of Argentina, Japan, Georgia and Italy.

The Rugby World Cup will be held from September 20 to November 2, 2019.

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