Wales and Australia aim to scupper England bid
HOST nation England have been drawn in the same 2015 Rugby World Cup pool as Wales and Australia.
Yesterday's 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.
England's group – Pool A – will be completed by two qualifiers, Oceania 1 (probably Fiji) and the play-off winner, possibly Uruguay.
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.
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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.
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.
Despite their struggles, though, Wales will be confident they can progress, having won two Six Nations titles and Grand Slams during 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 in a group that could also feature Japan and America or Canada.
Ireland, meanwhile, will should feel pleased with the Pool D make-up, with their game against France likely to decide who finishes top.
The group is likely to be completed by America or Canada and one of Georgia, Russia and Romania.
New Zealand, the Pool C favourites, will be wary of 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.