Rugby World Cup 2015: Australia, England, Wales Drawn into Pool of Death

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Rugby World Cup 2015: Australia, England, Wales Drawn into Pool of Death
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Australia, England and Wales face the toughest road to Rugby World Cup glory in 2015, having been drawn in the pool of death. Elsewhere the All Blacks and Springboks should coast through untouched, while France and Ireland will meet in the fight for a top seeding in Pool D.

But it is Pool A that remains most intriguing and will add extra interest to the early stages of 2015. Never before has a World Cup featured three such highly touted teams in the same pool. 

2011 saw something of a pool of death with South Africa, Wales and Samoa all placed together, while 2007 saw France, Ireland and Argentina take the toughest road to the playoff stage. 

But to group together three teams who will have legitimate ambitions to win the tournament is something that has never happened before. It is a result of the poor form of Wales over the autumn internationals, which has seen their world ranking plummet. Losses to Argentina, Samoa, New Zealand and Australia have seen them find a place in the third tier of qualifiers and meant they would be drawn with two of the top eight teams.

This immediately creates a situation where three top teams will be drawn together and in a way shows the flaws in the IRB's system. Why should it be form in the post-World Cup year that determines the draw for the next tournament? Particularly when most countries use this as a year to rebuild, filling the gaps of the men who have left at the end of the previous Cup.

One could argue that it is as good a time as any to use. But it does seem to have the obvious flaw of teams often being at their weakest in the four year cycle at this stage. The old system used the rankings from the previous World Cup to develop the draw. While this may have just as little relevance, it at least shows the strength of each country at their best, as every team will be aiming to peak for the World Cup.

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The current situation is made even more intriguing as each of the three teams are being touted as potential winners of the tournament. This is something that is usually reserved for the All Blacks and perhaps one other.

But this time around there is more to consider. Wales have plenty of quality young players who will still be around and looking to build on their third-place finish in 2011. England also have a bunch of youngsters who look good and showed what they can do in their win over the All Blacks at the weekend. And Australia too will be up there despite their poor form of recent times, they have a lot of young players and were hit hard by injury in 2012.

It must be remembered too that England will be playing on home soil where they will be far harder to beat. Wales too will not mind this, as they will be sure to have a huge amount of support come across the border to watch them play, while Wales have also suggested playing the England game in Cardiff's Millenium Stadium.

And that leaves Australia, who often struggle against European teams despite being the biggest threat to the often unbeatable All Blacks. But in this situation it is conceivable that they won't make the quarter finals.

Certainly it will turn the World Cup on its head. But that isn't the only intriguing factor of the draw.

The other pools should all go as planned.

The All Blacks will top theirs with relative ease, with Argentina the favourites to edge an improving Tonga side for the second spot. 

Likewise, the Springboks should go through, although may be find Samoa a challenge and Scotland will be quietly confident.

Pool D provides a fascinating matchup where France will meet Ireland, while Italy have also shown vast improvements over the past month and could cause an upset.

The crossover matches though provide potential for a huge upset. Should France finish second in their pool, they will meet the All Blacks in the quarter finals. That's right, another meeting between these two great rivals and another chance for France to add to their already considerable history of upsets against the world's top team.

They did it in 1999, again in 2007 and came oh so close to it in 2011. It certainly wouldn't be out of the question. 

But first the pool matches must be played and it could very well be that the All Blacks end up playing Ireland in their quarter final and avoid France until the Final.

Whatever happens, you can rest assured this will be a World Cup to remember.

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