The latest milestone in the All Blacks’ bid to win the Rugby World Cup was made in Kyoto, Japan, with the Pool Draw for Rugby World Cup 2019.
Current Champions All Blacks have been drawn in Pool B along with 1995 World Cup Winners South Africa, six-time World Cup rivals Italy, the winner of Africa 1 and the Repechage winners from the qualifying tournament.
All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen, who was involved in the draw, said he was pleased with the outcome of the draw and was looking forward to a great tournament.
‘Everyone will be excited by the game against South Africa, and we know each other pretty well. We will get to understand each other a bit more over the next two years before we play here in 2019. Having the World Cup in Japan is a great opportunity to grow rugby. It’s a special part of the world and Japan is leading the development of the game in the region. Let us hope the tournament reaches great heights,” he said.
New Zealand Rugby Chief Executive Steve Tew said that the draw represented a milestone on the All Blacks’ path as they looked to again challenge for the Webb Ellis Cup.
“Every pool in a World Cup is challenging and the reality is you need to win seven games, regardless of who is in your pool, to win the tournament. We will find out the details of which order we will play the teams in our pool and our venues in September which will kick-start the next phase of our detailed planning for the tournament.
‘The pool draw in Kyoto was a great success and brilliantly run. It promises to be an exceptional tournament in 2019 that will showcase rugby on the global stage and help to expand the game into Asia,” he said.
The 2019 Rugby World Cup qualifying process began during the pool stages of the 2015 Rugby World Cup, where the top three teams of each pool automatically qualified for the 2019 event. Twelve teams qualified for the 2019 Rugby World Cup by virtue of finishing in the top 3 in their respective pools during the 2015 Rugby World Cup. Japan, who finished third in their group, would have automatically qualified as hosts in any case.
Eight teams will qualify by playing qualifying matches between 2016 and 2018 in regional tournaments and a Repechage round-robin tournament. The qualifying matches began on 5 March 2016, when Jamaica defeated Saint Vincent and the Grenadines by 48–0.
Rugby World Cup 2019 Pools:
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, Oceania 1, Americas 2
Sheevas Dayal is our Rugby Correspondent.