Who will Lady Luck favour at World Cup draw?

New Straits Times - - Sport -

TOKYO: Rugby’s lead­ing na­tions will be hop­ing for a big slice of luck at to­day’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 semi-fi­nal­ists, 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.

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 to­day’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.

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