England upset of ABs spices up the RWC draw

DUNCAN JOHNSTONE
Last updated 13:38 03/12/2012

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All Blacks captain Richie McCaw has one last official act before he heads off on his six-month sabbatical from rugby - delivering the World Cup to tonight's lavish ceremony in London that will unveil the draw for the next tournament in England in 2015.

He will do so with a fair dose of humility and trepidation after his world champion side were humbled by England at Twickenham yesterday.

England's result has quite literally thrown the cat amongst the pigeons.

As the No 5 ranked side in world rugby, England are a dangerous floater in the second band of seeded teams, just as ninth ranked Wales are as they smart over their 16-14 loss to Australia that confined them to the third band of teams who will be sifted into the draw tonight at London's famous Tate Modern Gallery.

The IRB world rankings are used to rank the 12 directly qualified teams for RWC 2015 into three bands for the 2015 pool allocation draw with the sides ranked one to four in band one - and crucially avoiding each other until the knockout stages - those five to eight in band two and the remaining four in band three.

The All Blacks' shock loss yesterday didn't damage their No 1 ranking and they head the top band with South Africa, Australia and France who were the most consistent northern side in recent weeks.

England, Ireland, Samoa and Argentina make up band two and Wales, Italy, Tonga and Scotland make up band three.

The eight minnows going through the World Cup qualification process over the next couple of years will be added to the mix as they qualify for a tournament that kicks off at Twickenham on September 18, 2015.

Sir Clive Woodward, the coach who masterminded England's 2003 World Cup success - the only side to break the southern hemisphere's grip on the trophy, said England's famous victory yesterday was just the spice required for the draw and made his old team a side to be feared as the names are drawn out of the hat tonight.

"It makes the draw fascinating. The three southern hemisphere sides will not want to draw England," Woodward told the BBC in a statement full of truth rather than bluff.

"It was a great, great victory for England. It was a David v Goliath effort. They got stuck into New Zealand and they were rattled."

Woodward suggested England's win was crucial for European rugby after a difficult month hosting not just the southern hemisphere heavyweights but also the Pacific Island upstarts with Samoa and Tonga recording wins against the odds against Wales and Scotland respectively.

The looming Six Nations tournament was in danger of being viewed as a "second division competition" but England's win would change that.

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IRB WORLD RANKINGS

1 New Zealand - 90.08
2 South Africa - 86.94
3 Australia - 86.87
4 France - 85.07
5 England - 83.90
6 Ireland - 80.22
7 Samoa - 78.71 
8 Argentina - 78.71 
9 Wales - 78.39
10 Italy - 76.24
11 Tonga - 76.10
12 Scotland - 75.83

Statistics on past Rugby World Cup pools for the directly qualified teams for the 2015 tournament involved in tonight's draw.

* New Zealand has always finished top of its pool in Rugby World Cup history.

* Eight other nations have topped a RWC pool - France (five times), South Africa and Australia (four times), England (three times), Wales (twice), Argentina, Ireland and Scotland (once).

* Australia has never met New Zealand, France or Scotland in the pool stages in Rugby World Cup history.

* England faces France, Ireland and Wales every year in the RBS Six Nations, but has never met them in the pool stages.

* Samoa and South Africa have been drawn in the same pool at the last three Rugby World Cups.

* France has never been drawn in the same pool as Australia, England, Italy, South Africa, Samoa or Wales. By contrast they have faced Scotland three times in the pool stages - in 1987, 1995 and 2003.

* The hosts and defending champions have been drawn in the same pool on two occasions - England and New Zealand in 1991 and South Africa and Australia in 1995.

* Ireland has been in the same pool as Australia on three occasions (1999, 2003 and 2011). They have also met the Wallabies twice in the knockout stages.

* Italy and New Zealand are no strangers to each other in RWC pool stages, having faced each other in five of the seven tournaments to date, the exceptions being 1995 and 2011.

* The defending champions have never met Australia, Samoa, Scotland or South Africa in the pool stages, but have faced three of the quartet in the knockout stages.

* South Africa has never faced Argentina, France, Ireland, Italy or New Zealand in a RWC pool match.

* Tonga has found New Zealand awaiting them in the pool stages on three occasions (1999, 2003 and 2011).

* Wales and Samoa have been drawn in the same pool on three occasions with the Welsh finally discovering that winning formula in 2011 after losses in 1991 and 1999.

* Argentina and South Africa have never met in the pool stages of a Rugby World Cup.

* Scotland has been drawn in the same pool as Romania at the last two Rugby World Cups, but has never met Australia, Samoa or USA at this stage of the tournament.

- Fairfax Media

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