England get 'Pool of Death' for 2019 Rugby World Cup
England drawn with France and Argentina in 'Pool of Death' for Rugby World Cup 2019
England received a horror draw for the second straight Rugby World Cup when they landed in a "Pool of Death" alongside France and Argentina in Pool C for the 2019 tournament yesterday.
The 2003 champions were handed the toughest assignment of the leading nations, with holders New Zealand drawing South Africa and Italy in Pool B.
Two-time winners Australia went into Pool D with Wales and Georgia, while Ireland will face Scotland and hosts Japan in Pool A.
Two more teams will be added to each group after qualifying, which England will now watch closely after their nightmare showing in 2015.
Two years ago, England became the first World Cup hosts not to reach the knock-out stage after they were grouped with Wales, Australia, Fiji and Uruguay.
England have a mixed World Cup record against France and their last meeting was a quarter-final defeat in 2011 in Auckland.
They have won both of their World Cup games so far against Argentina, but the Pumas are much improved and reached the semi-finals in 2015.
England coach Eddie Jones believes the tough pool will leave his players battle hardened for the knockout phase.
"You think it's difficult, but we're excited by it. It's not a tough group, it's a good group," said Jones, who has led England to 17 wins in 18 games and two straight Six Nations titles.
"To win the World Cup, you have to win seven games.
"We've got two very big games in our pool against France and Argentina, so it's great preparation for the final stages.
IN IT TO WIN IT
"We're looking forward to it. We want to win the World Cup, that's our ambition."
Jones replied "nobody is going to die" when it was put to him that England had been drawn in the "Pool of Death", but he did joke that he will be seeking divine intervention.
"I'm going to visit the temples because I need to pray. I need to pray really hard," he said.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said their Pool B match-up against South Africa would now give their annual Rugby Championship games extra meaning.
New Zealand lost to South Africa in the 1995 final, but they have won their last two World Cup meetings, including their 2015 semi-final.
"Everyone will get excited by it, and we know each other pretty well so we'll just continue to get to understand each other before we get here," Hansen said.
Twelve teams were included in yesterday's draw in Kyoto by virtue of finishing in the top three of their groups in 2015.
Another eight sides from Oceania, Europe, the Americas and Africa will be added after qualifying to complete four groups of five.
Hansen's New Zealand are striving to complete a hat-trick of World Cup victories and underline their dominance of the sport.
Japan will become the first Asian country to host the World Cup, a move which aims to ignite rugby passion around the region.
Games will be played at 12 venues including Kamaishi, which was ravaged by Japan's 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster. "I have never felt so fired up as I do now about my role in picking Japan's group," Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said before the draw.
"This is even more of a thrill than when I played Super Mario at the Rio Olympics," he said, referring to his closing-ceremony appearance dressed as the popular video game character. - AFP
RUGBY WORLD CUP 2019 DRAW
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
- Twelve teams were included in yesterday's draw by virtue of finishing in the top three of their groups at the 2015 tournament. Another eight teams will be added after qualifying.