Who will Lady Luck favour at World Cup draw?
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.