Thursday, 21 September, 2017

Gatland 'pretty happy' with World Cup draw

Damon Campbell | 15 May, 2017, 18:10

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said their match-up against South Africa in Pool B would now give their annual Rugby Championship games extra meaning.

Scotland were grouped with Ireland and Japan in Pool A for the 2019 tournament along with a European qualifier - Romania now top the rankings - and a cross-continental play-off victor.

Defending champions New Zealand have been pitted alongside Rugby Championship rivals South Africa, while Pool C will undoubtedly be dubbed the group of death.

This time England will have to see off improving France and 2015 semi-finalists Argentina in Pool C to reach the knockout stages.

England crashed out of the World Cup at the group stage in 2015 following defeats by Wales and Australia, resulting in the dismissal of Jones' predecessor, Stuart Lancaster.

"We've got two Tests against Argentina in June so we can practice a little bit", Jones told reporters in Kyoto. We want to win the World Cup.

"Every World Cup people debate about what's the easiest way or the hard way to get through the pool".

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Holders and favourites New Zealand were left unchanged at, while Ireland were regarded as winners in the draw by our betting partners - they were slashed from 14/1 to after landing in the same pool as Scotland and hosts Japan.

"As I said before the draw was made - to us it doesn't matter who we are drawn against, because to win the Rugby World Cup, you have to beat the best teams out there", Coetzee said on Wednesday.

However, Jones insisted England would be ready to exorcise the demons of their disastrous 2015 campaign, when they became the first host team to crash out at the pool stage after being drawn with Wales, Australia, Fiji and Uruguay. To make the final we have got four very tough games. They have shown real consistency over the past two or three years.

"Just choose smartly", said a chuckling Foster.

The favourable draw is a far cry from the last edition of rugby's global showpiece, when Australia battled through the group of death, knocking out co-hosts England during their charge to the title match.

Japan coach Jamie Joseph said: "Japan haven't beaten Ireland or Scotland to date, so it is going to be a big challenge, but any group we got was going to be a challenge".

If they win the pool, Australia would face the second place team from England, France and Argentina's pool in the quarter-finals, but coach Michael Cheika said figuring out the possible permutations was not that important.

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