SCOTLAND could be drawn against Argentina for the third World Cup in a row but will certainly avoid Wales in the pool stages after the weekend international results altered the seedings ahead of today’s draw for the 2015 tournament.
SRU chief executive Mark Dodson and Scotland assistant coach, Scott Johnson, are expected to join the likes of Mayor of London Boris Johnson, Rugby World Cup chairman Bernard Lapasset and New Zealand’s 2011 World Cup-winning captain Richie McCaw at the pool draw this afternoon at London’s Tate Modern gallery.
Last year’s World Cup semi-finalists, Wales, dropped into tier three alongside Scotland, Italy and Tonga as a result of their last-gasp defeat by Australia on Saturday. It meant Argentina jumped up to tier two alongside England, Ireland and Samoa.
The top four seeds are the All Blacks, South Africa, Australia and France, while the identities of eight remaining teams will be confirmed by World Cup qualifying games for a tournament which will be hosted by England and starts on 18 September, 2015.
Scotland – currently without a coach following Andy Robinson’s resignation last weekend – go into the draw as 12th and last seeds after losing successive November fixtures to New Zealand, South Africa and Tonga. At last year’s tournament, the Scots failed to get out of their pool following crucial defeats by Argentina and England.
Wales scrum-half Mike Phillips is not overly concerned that the 14-12 loss to Australia at the weekend saw them drop to the third tier. “I don’t think it bothers us. The World Cup is a long way off, 2015. A lot can happen between now and then,” he explained at the weekend.
“All you are concerned about as a player is your next game. It’s your next job. The World Cup is miles away, and so is next summer’s Lions tour of Australia.”
Wales centre Jonathan Davies added: “With what we did at the last World Cup, I think people will be fearing us, not the other way around.
“We had a tough group last time, so I am sure the boys will be pretty confident that whoever we draw we can compete with.”
Wales reached the quarter-finals from a pool that included South Africa and Samoa in New Zealand last year, before bowing out by a point to semi-final opponents France after skipper Sam Warburton was sent off midway through the first half.
England, of course, will go into the draw full of confidence following their stunning 38-21 victory over New Zealand on Saturday. While the win was not enough to lift them into tier one, it certainly suggests they should be major World Cup contenders in under three years’ time.
“It was a great, great victory for the English team,” said England’s 2003 World Cup-winning coach Sir Clive Woodward.
“The scoreline absolutely reflected the performance and it was a great, great day to be at Twickenham. It was a real David and Goliath effort. They (England) came out and threw the kitchen sink and New Zealand got completely rattled. Every phase of the game they won.
“It makes the draw fascinating, given England have just demolished New Zealand. The top four sides will not want to be playing against England. The draw is really important because it shows which way you go through the quarter-finals, semi-finals. That one result yesterday will make the southern hemisphere teams sit up and say for once ‘we want to keep away from England’.”
• The 20-team competition will comprise four pools, each containing five countries.
• Seedings are based on the current International Rugby Board world rankings, with teams divided into five tiers of four.
• Tier one is New Zealand, South Africa, Australia and France.
• Tier two is England, Ireland, Samoa and Argentina.
• Tier three is Wales, Italy, Tonga and Scotland.
• Tier four is Oceania 1, Europe 1, Asia 1 and Americas 1.
• Tier five is Africa 1, Europe 2, Americas 2, Repechage winner.
• The identity of tier four and five countries will be confirmed after World Cup qualifying games.
• A tier one country will be drawn into each of the four pools, followed by one from tier two, tier three, etc.
• The trademark ‘pool of death’ is likely to be the one that includes Wales, who were World Cup semi-finalists in New Zealand last year.
• The top two teams in each pool will progress to the 2015 World Cup quarter-finals.
• The top three teams in each pool will secure automatic qualification for the 2019 World Cup in Japan.
• The competition will run from 18 September to 31 October, 2015, with Twickenham hosting the final.
• Today’s draw will be shown live on ITV4 from 2.45pm
and will also be available on www.scotsman.com/rugby