England face Australia and Wales

  • Last Updated: December 3 2012, 17:33 GMT

Host nation England have been drawn in the same 2015 Rugby World Cup pool as Wales and Australia.

England are handed a tough draw for 2015
England are handed a tough draw for 2015

The draw, held at the Tate Modern art gallery in London, presents Stuart Lancaster's team with a tough task - although they managed to avoid world champions New Zealand who they beat at Twickenham two days ago.

England's group - Pool A - will be completed by two qualifiers, Oceania 1 -probably Fiji - and the play-off winner.

Ireland have landed France, Italy, Americas 1 and Europe 2 in Pool D, while Scotland are in with Pool B rivals South Africa, Samoa, Asia 1 and Americas 2.

The All Blacks, meanwhile, look to have secured the easiest pool, being bracketed alongside Argentina, Tonga, Europe 1 and Africa 1.

The tournament kicks off on September 18, 2015, with Twickenham staging the final six weeks later.

England, crowned 2003 world champions after they beat Australia in a gripping final, have never previously been drawn in the same World Cup group as Wales.

Their last World Cup meeting was during the 2003 tournament in Brisbane, when England trailed at half-time before securing a tense quarter-final triumph.

And the last time England and Australia found themselves in the same pool was at the inaugural World Cup 25 years ago.

Wales, World Cup semi-finalists last year, have paid a price for dropping to ninth in the International Rugby Board rankings following successive autumn defeats against Argentina, Samoa, New Zealand and Australia.

It meant they were in the third band of countries for today's draw, increasing the prospect of a punishing group, and so it has proved.

Despite their recent struggles, though, Wales will be confident they can progress to the quarter-finals, having won two Six Nations titles and Grand Slams during head coach Warren Gatland's reign.

Scotland, whose coach Andy Robinson resigned last month following autumn losses to the All Blacks, South Africa and Tonga, have their work cut out in Pool B.

South Africa, the 1995 and 2007 world champions will be favourites to take the pool, but Samoa could easily pip the Scots for second spot and and a quarter-final place from a group that could also feature Japan and either America or Canada.

Ireland, meanwhile, will should feel reasonably pleased with the Pool D make-up, with their game against France likely to decide who finishes top.

Italy will fancy their chances of upsetting the status quo, but they do not have a great World Cup record. The group is likely to be completed by America or Canada and one of Georgia, Russia and Romania.

New Zealand, the runaway Pool C favourites, will be wary of Rugby Championship rivals Argentina, yet Tonga, Europe 1 (probably Georgia and Russia) and Africa 1 (probably Namibia) provide no threat.

The eight pool places to be filled by qualifiers will be finalised by the end of 2014.

If the 2015 tournament follows its current seeding path, then the quarter-finals would see South Africa face England, New Zealand tackle Ireland, Australia meet Samoa and France take on Argentina.

England coach Stuart Lancaster tweeted: "To win the Rugby World Cup you have to win big games. We will look forward to it, it is unbelievably exciting."

Wales captain Sam Warburton told Sky Sports News: "We had a group of death in the last World Cup so we are used to the situation.

"It's a fascinating pool. Wales against Australia has always been a good game.

"As for England v Wales, there is enough rivalry there without it being the World Cup.

"From a players' point of view we are guaranteed to play in front of a packed house against England which is really exciting."

England skipper Chris Robshaw told Sky Sports News: "It's going to be tough but all the pools are pretty tough, aren't they? Hopefully we'll hit the ground running and it'll be great for the fans.

"We'll cross paths with Australia next autumn and we've got a couple of Six Nations (tournaments) with Wales.

"A lot of people were saying in the build-up that England and Wales have never been in the same pool so you start to think 'here it comes'."

On the possibility of Fiji taking the Oceania spot in the group, he added: "They always raise their game for the World Cup, they've taken down a couple of big names.

"Obviously we can't confirm that until we know but we won't take whoever that is lightly."

2015 World Cup group-stage draw:

Pool A: Australia, England, Wales, Oceania 1, Play-off Winner.

Pool B: South Africa, Samoa, Scotland, Asia 1, Americas 2.

Pool C: New Zealand, Argentina, Tonga, Europe 1, Africa 1.

Pool D: France, Ireland, Italy, Americas 1, Europe 2.


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