Monday Dec 3, 2012 The Rugby World Cup 2015 Pools drawn and IRB awards given

The Rugby World Cup 2015 Pools drawn and IRB awards given
56
Comments

The draw for the Rugby World Cup 2015 took place earlier today in London, which you hopefully watched live on our video stream. If not, here is a quick summary of what happened with the draw, and who won the IRB 2012 awards.

Will Greenwood emceed the event which started off with speeches from Bernard Lapasset and Boris Johnson, then after a bit tournament build-up, we moved quickly into the draw, which was done by Lapasset, Johnson, All Black captain Richie McCaw, and England women’s player Maggie Alphonsi.

The bands for the pools were as follows:

Band 1: New Zealand, South Africa, Australia, France
Band 2: England, Ireland, Samoa, Argentina
Band 3: Wales, Italy, Tonga, Scotland
Band 4: Oceania 1, Europe 1, Asia 1, Americas 1
Band 5: Africa 1, Europe 2, Americas 2, Repechage winner

The draw took place, resulting in the following four pools for RWC 2015:

Pool A – Looks like the pool of death as Rugby World Cup 2003 finalists Australia and England face off, while current Six Nations Grand Slam champions Wales join them, and possibly Fiji. 

Pool B – South Africa and Samoa will meet for the fourth consecutive World Cup, no doubt leading to another bruising encounter. Scotland, who are currently ranked 12th in the world, join them.

Pool C – Defending champions New Zealand up against Argentina, and facing Tonga in the pool stages for the fourth time running.

Pool D – Very much a Six Nations feel to it, but France and Ireland will be fairly confident of going through to the next round with Italy their main threat.

Eight teams are yet to qualify.

Quarter finals:
To work out the Quarter Finals, the Winner of Pool A plays the runner up in Pool B, and Winner of C plays runner up in Pool D.

Semi finals:
The last four will see the winner of Quarter final 1 vs the the winners of Quarter final 2, and the winners of Quarter final 3 vs the winners of Quarter final 4.

Possible final:
If New Zealand (ranked #1) and South Africa (ranked #2) win their pools and knockout stage games, they will line up to meet in the final.

IRB Awards:
New Zealand were handed the IRB Team of the Year award for 2012. The Coach of the Year went to All Blacks coach Steve Hansen, and the IRB Player of the Year went to flyhalf Dan Carter.

If you missed the draw and awards presentation, you can watch a replay of it all here

What are your thoughts on the awards and the draw, and which possible next round scenario are you most looking forward to, or dreading?

56 Comments

  •  joeythelemur
    joeythelemur

    I'm just hoping USA qualifies more directly this time around and not have to go through the repechage. Joe, you mention USA attracting pro athletes from other sports. I'm curious, who? I've not heard of a single pro athlete from another sport make a code switch, much less be any good. Let's face it: for the US to be good, there needs to be massive grass roots structures and investment made. Some of that is happening, but I think it'll take more than 10 years. To say they'll consistently be top 5 means passing the likes of Argentina, Scotland, Italy, Wales, Ireland, etc. All of those countries have meaningful pro rugby leagues whereas the US does not, and likely will not for the foreseeable future. I'm not trying to have a go at you, as I am hopeful the USA can be competitive and soon. Just injecting a dose of realism about expectations. Your mileage may vary. :-)

    Reply
  •  stroudos
    stroudos

    Exactly!

    Reply
  •  felipeg
    felipeg

    True that pacific teams were not always the most consistent in the past... So given that, I guess you re right. The odds may be better in pool B than D. Truth is, I don't see Canada or the USA getting to the third place in neither right now. But let's hope! Also true regarding the schizophrenic french. Nevertheless, in 2011, Samoa was a serious threat VS Wales and RSA even if not lucky with the results. I m already looking forward to watching Samoa-RSA in 2015! Someone should warn seismic scientist...

    Reply
  •  cheyanqui
    cheyanqui

    And adding to that -- France is always a schizophrenic team. So while I don't think the USA could beat them, I think it's more likely for FRA to lose a game to IRE or ITA in Pool D, whereas RSA will run its respective table in Pool B. Thus, if FRA lose a match, that would actually make the top three in Pool D that much harder to reach for the USA or CAN. Imagine if the USA squeak wins on Italy and Spain, but still finish fourth. Heck in 2011, Canada beat Tonga, but because Tonga snuck a win in over the French (and Canada drew with Japan), Canada still finished fourth.

    Reply
  •  cheyanqui
    cheyanqui

    I think the USA (and Canada for that matter) should have the goal of simply finishing third in a pool, and getting an automatic qualification spot. Now, which pool favors that? I throw out the top teams (RSA and FRA) out of hand in terms of the USA or CAN beating them in 2015. So, the real issue is about against whom can the USA steal a game against: Pool B: SAM, SCO, Asia 1 (Japan?) Pool D: IRE, ITA, Europe 2 (Spain?) I tend to think that pipping the Scots will be easier than pipping Italy, and that as great as Samoa looks now, there is a greater chance of a fall from grace by them than a fall by Ireland.

    Reply
  •  cheyanqui
    cheyanqui

    one man's "support" is another's "cronyism" ;)

    Reply
  •  cheyanqui
    cheyanqui

    The most egregious part of this format is that the IRB doesn't set the schedule for the matches until the teams are known. The reason they do that is to chase $$$ on the Television rights. However, we coupled with the "bye" required of odd numbered pools, this creates the significant imparity. Recall how in 2011, they forced some Tier 2/3 teams to play three matches in 8-9 days, whilst the powerhouse brands (All Blacks), got consistent scheduling, with plenty of rest, as well as marquee TV slots? FIFA on the other hand, locks the schedule in place, and the random draw drops teams into the schedule. This seems more about the fact that there are so many strong countries in FIFA, that no one would stand for a country getting an unfair advantage. Also FIFA has no "byes".

    Reply
  •  cheyanqui
    cheyanqui

    yup. I actually had 2023 in my head there for a bit, and figured qualifying for that would be in nine years. I guess qualifying for 2019 would start around 2017, so five years.

    Reply
  •  kadova
    kadova

    France decided to give games to Wales and Scotland because both nations supported France candidacy.

    Reply
  •  kadova
    kadova

    L'Equipe says what they want. they have no more credibilty with all the stupidities they write or their interns write online, and especially after all they said about the French team and management for the last 4 years. And their analysis are often a good laughing stock. Who amongst the French journalists knew France were well able to reach the RWC final ? I personnally think Ireland and Italy are good opponents for France because France know how to beat them and also how they can be beaten by them. I don't believe the pool is that easy. You can bet Italy will try to beat France or Ireland to reach a quarter final, and Ireland will try to top the pool to avoid meeting NZ at the quarter final.

    Reply
  •  kadova
    kadova

    You can consider a lot of teams as TBC. Ireland is finally starting to bleed new promising young players into the national team, for instance. And if you compare the French group from the last RWC and the group for the nov12 tests a good one year later, you have 20 players from the RWC group who are not in the Nov12 group; because they retired from international duty (Bonnaire, Servat), or they're injuried (Dusautoir, Medard, Palisson, Harinordoquy...) or for some reason. Add to that the teams in progress like Argentina (thanks to the Rugby Championship) and Samoa (thanks to their players playing in Europe). In short, it's unpredictable at the moment.

    Reply
  •  kadova
    kadova

    lol ! France played Samoa this nov and the French coach nicknamed them "the beheaders" :)

    Reply
  •  kadova
    kadova

    Ca te derange d'ecrire en anglais, meme si c'est pour dire que le lien que tu proposes est en francais ? Je suis evidemment d'accord avec Raoulito, la personne qui a ecrit ce blog n'a pas l'air de connaitre les competitions de haut niveau.

    Reply
  •  feddderico
    feddderico

    Jajaja you are right. When your team plays against thats Oceania teams you have to pray for any player not get injury. My team (Argentina) plays against Tonga, but Samoans are worse!

    Reply
  •  stroudos
    stroudos

    Gatland's proven time and again what an awesome coach he is. Makes you wonder what exactly Howley's been doing in his absence. With Gatland away now until after the Lions tour, Wales need strong leaders to step up, either from the management team or playing squad, or ideally both. England will be fine.

    Reply
  •  stroudos
    stroudos

    Don't know about that. An Italy side that can finish a game within three points of the Aussies can't too shabby.

    Reply
  •  stroudos
    stroudos

    It's an England world cup. Roger Lewis is just being a twat asking for England v Wales to be played there, but no doubt they'll have a home game at some point as the Millennium Stadium is on the list of grounds. I disagree with that in principle but the tournament needs to make money and given that the Welsh would probably fill Millennium Stadium for a game against Old Tashkentians Vets, it does make sense. It's bonkers doing the draw so far out from the tourny. I suspect they've agreed to give the football clubs an excessive amount of notice. The next biggest rugby stadium in England after Twickenham (capacity 80,000) is Leicester's Welford Rd at 24,500, which is why the Millennium (74,500) is on the list, along with a number of football grounds. The 2007 world cup had games in Wales and Scotland. And that, as now, has all to do with mutual backslapping, backhanders and cronyism among the national unions.

    Reply
  •  mcmurphy
    mcmurphy

    seriously! because the Millenium stadium is part of the bid to host games and the venues aren't decided yet. There's no chance it'd happen that way, and I actually doubt that Wales will play Australia in Cardiff either, but I like the cheekiness of it.

    Reply
  •  flanker2712
    flanker2712

    I think it is important to remember that the rankings were not used to determine automatic qualification. That was based on the final pool status in RWC 2011, with the top three teams in each pool automatically qualifying for RWC 2015. It just so happens that the 12 teams that qualified automatically were the same 12 teams occupying the top 12 spots in the IRB rankings at the start of this week. That, I imagine is coincidence, but not an unlikely one. The IRB rankings were used to determine seedings in the groups. I agree that 3 years prior to a tournament is far too long, and I have not heard any reasonable explanation for it. I know we all hate football, but lets look at a football world cup as an example. The final draw for the groups is made around the end of the year prior to the year of the tournament. Granted, with a much more substantial qualification process, it would be hard to have it much before then. But it illustrates that any argument about team preparations, venues, fans' travel arrangements etc. do not really fly. Indeed, a football world cup generally has more venues, more teams and more fans than a RWC, so one would think more ramp up time is required for a football world cup. That said, as far as I know, RWC pool draws have always been a long way in advance of the actual tournament. I know it was the same for the last world cup. So, as flawed as it seems, it would appear the IRB is happy with the arrangement!

    Reply
  •  colombes
    colombes

    agree i just invite to re-read the last line of my post ;)

    Reply
  •  pretzel
    pretzel

    Ireland have been misfiring quite a lot, especially when you consider the Summer tours, Italy again can be dangerous, but they can also be terrible (to a point) I'm not sure who they have as a 10 at the moment, but they haven't had a decent one for a little while. So France on top of their game are always dangerous. They aren't facing Argentina, England or a bruising Samoan team. I also think the English would be more bruising than the Irish.

    Reply
  •  pretzel
    pretzel

    A few questions for anyone that can answer: How long before the 2011 RWC and indeed the others were the pools announced? I'm just wondering if announcing the pools this early is a little premature as in theory the rankings could change, Scotland has played some decent rugby recently, but if that was just an upward blip on a downward trend then they could be expected to fall lower and lower, and would it be fair on other teams who perhaps might climb to 12 by mid 2013 to have missed a sure spot because the draw was so early? (just my thoughts) Also, I have been reading how Wales want to play England in Cardiff, now, to me this is madness. The RWC was either given to England to host, or it was given collectively to the UK. Now if it was given to England then there is no way ANY games should be played outside of England, unless (at the most) it's non "home nation" games, so for instance Scotland vs SA should be held in England, not in Scotland, however SA vs Samoa could be held in Murrayfield. Now if it was given to the UK with England as perhaps the main host nation, then I think each of the "home nations" for the UK should be able to play in their home pitches, however if you had in this case England vs Wales, then it should be played in Twickenham because England was the main host nation. It just seems a little unfair in some respects, I mean in the 2011 RWC NZ were the hosts, were there any matches played in Australia? It is only a stones throw away.... 2007 RWC was France, there were no matches played in England, and that is again very close. I also wonder if England has any decent sized stadiums beside Twickenham?

    Reply
  •  reality
    reality

    I don't understand why everyone is saying this. Especially on l'equipe.fr, they all say that they're delighted. I don't think France got a great draw. If the world cup was played tomorrow, Australia would face an England team that has been awful, with the exception of the New Zealand game, and a Wales team simply incapable of winning. Ireland aren't great at the moment, but I'd hardly say they're worse than England, and the way Italy are playing tells me that they'd be a tougher opponent than Wales. In terms of 2nd seed opponents, I don't think Samoa or Argentina would be easier to beat than Ireland. And for the 3rd seeds, I don't think Tonga or Scotland would be more difficult than Italy. I just don't understand why everyone considers Ireland and Italy to be easier than the other options.

    Reply
  •  spencah
    spencah

    Strange, I totally forgot to mention Scotland and Italy....

    Reply
  •  spencah
    spencah

    Man I miss the Chiropractor..... But Henry and Freddy Tuilagi will suffice i guess ;) As to the strange footnote: Are you not a fan of Gatland? I think he is a top coach and has done wonders for them, he leaves for family reasons or whatever and boom, they hit rock bottom. I think the players are more to blame than the management. Again, lets see if they can get themselves out of this rut come the 6 nations. As for England, I think you're still struggling at 10, and whoever is at 9 is inconsistent, if brilliant at times. I thought Launchbery had a superb game and Robshaw gets a tough time as the Captain but is has a class rugby brain on him. Tuilagi and barret are a bit one dimensional and if you're up to them physically they don't present much of a threat, but that is a big IF. But brown was exceptional, always makes ground, always runs hard and great lines. But yes after the AB's win, tails are up....and as the same for the rest, will just have to see 6 nations holds too see if it was a fluke or a change in the wind. And it will be interesting as I can see a powerful French team, a rejuvenated Irish team and a Welsh team with a point to prove coming hard and fast at them!

    Reply
  •  stroudos
    stroudos

    Strange footnote! I would have thought of all the teams in world rugby currently, "struggling with indifferent form and abject management" would apply more to Wales than any other! Sure, England is still TBC, but even in the games they've lost there have been areas of performance where you could discern notable improvement. No-one is getting carried away with the win over NZ, but the nature of that win - actually outplayed them, no flukey shit involved (and that's according to NZ commentators) and to win by a record margin - must be taken as a sign the management and squad are moving in the right direction. My main reservation about reading too much into that one game is how reliant England are on Tuilagi to create their attacking threat - take him out and it would be a big step backwards.

    Reply
  •  colombes
    colombes

    seriously??? it's not like if London was too far for welsh fans... England is the host, final point

    Reply
  •  stroudos
    stroudos

    To organise venues and to give team management time to make their preparations apparently. Nearly three years before the tourny does seem excessive to me though. I bet it has a lot to do with negotiating access to the football stadia with those club owners.

    Reply
  •  colombes
    colombes

    As a french fan, i'm delighted with the Pool D And it's not because of our very positive records vs ireland in the world cups (3 victories). For me, ireland and italy will offer 2 hard-fought encounters, but clearly not impossible ones. I feared an easy pool where u can be trashed in 1/4 finals because of lack of rhythm. Boks and Blacks will have clear easy beginnings Groupe A will let a top-dog on the touch, but can't say who. and, my last nostradamus prediction is a first NH final rdv in 3 years when all our comments will mean absolutely nothing ;)

    Reply
  •  connachtman
    connachtman

    Scotland will be back by 2015, new coach etc will be in place for this year's Six nations, a lot will happen in 3 years.....I agree Pool A is the pool of death, Ireland could be ok ( although have never beaten France in any World Cup).....some good young guns coming through this year (Gilroy, O'Mahony, Zebo) some of the old guard will be gone ( BOD, POC, DOC,ROG)... who wilbe Irish coach? Not Kidney anyway, maybe Connor O'Shea, Schmidt? Interesting times ahead!!

    Reply
  •  mcmurphy
    mcmurphy

    There's a hilarious piece of cheek gone on from the Welsh management, asking for the England-Wales game to be held in Cardiff! My monocle popped clean out, snagged on my handlebar mustache and fell into my Earl Grey when I read that. I'm guessing NZ and France will be happiest with their draws, and Australia least.

    Reply
  •  spencah
    spencah

    Just as a footnote to say Wales management is actually spot on, England is still down as *TBC*

    Reply
  •  felipeg
    felipeg

    Sure, but still fun to discuss! I think the best possible pool is the french's last RWC. A fight VS NZ in pool is a good preparation! And you don't see them again before the final!

    Reply
  •  spencah
    spencah

    See I disagree. Playing better than the other team is obviously how you do actually win. But (a) its fun to speculate and (b) I feel its the variables that impact on allowing you to play better than the other team that are worth considering too, one being the tournament layout and your route to the final. And I would argue that Nz ALMOST always have an easier rout to the quarters and semis than most teams due to their seeding and then when they come up against a tough team that front up and manages to rattle them (invariably by France for some reason) They come unstuck.....whether that is the draw layout or an inherent NZ trait I will leave to you. However I think that you can definitely get an indication for how the tournament will play out from the draw. This said the tournament is 3 years away so not placing any bets just yet. Will be interesting to see what state the teams are in as we draw closer though with many struggling with indifferent form and abject management namely SA, Wales and England who incidentally everyone thinks are amazing after one big win despite being overshadowed in all their other games. 6 Nations will reveal more....

    Reply
  •  felipeg
    felipeg

    I understand you're predicting/hoping, so no point really "disagreeing". Still I think Samoa's current form is pretty impressive. America having a good shot...currently a game between those two would be a pure massacre imo. Last game of Samoa saw them scoring twice against a really solid french defense. With a bit more luck, discipline, and a kicker, Samoa could have won this match. Pains me to admit it, but they were stronger than a pretty good french team this day. I hope Samoa will still improve cause if they do, they will be a solid challenger in 2015. But for the sake of competition, I 'd be glad to see the USA improve too!

    Reply
  •  stroudos
    stroudos

    I always find the chat about easy group, tough group, group of death etc misleading and inaccurate. If you want to win the cup you have to play better than the other teams, whether they're in your pool or in a later stage. That's all there is to it really.

    Reply
  •  stroudos
    stroudos

    cheyanqui: they will have to qualify out of Europe in 2019. There are nine years between now and then.*Ahem*

    Reply
  •  stroudos
    stroudos

    Absolutely. Biggest problem NZ had in 07, they just weren't battle-hardened and playing at the right intensity for the knock-out stage, having barely got out of second gear in their pool.

    Reply
  •  spencah
    spencah

    The teams that normally do well in the RWC are the ones that dont peak to early. *Case in point, England in the 2003 WC*. To me this means that being in an easy group could actually work against you as you are not mentally up to speed when the tough, tense game come a knocking. This said, you could definitely argue that numerous tough fought and bruising encounters really wears you down mentally and physically so if squad depth isnt utilised in group stages teams may struggle to keep up their initial group stage intensity. Well this is as inconclusive a post as ever.....but I felt like chucking in my tuppence. SH ftw. (My moneys on SA for their 3rd WC)

    Reply
  • Delighted with Ireland's group, especially if they can steal the group win (not unusual against the oft-slow to start French) Argentina should be the runner up in C if form holds and the Irish team in 3 years should be turned over and ready for a run at the semis and beyond???

    Reply
  •  cheyanqui
    cheyanqui

    by "regardless", do you mean "finishing at least third in a five team pool", or do you mean "losing to England and Argentina by a combined five points"? As of late, their loss to Tonga moved them to 11th. As for RWC 2015 -- they will likely finish 3rd again. I don't see them falling below Americas 2 (probably USA), or Asia 1 (all signs point to Japan). But on the other hand, if they do finish 4th or 5th in their pool in 2015, they will have to qualify out of Europe in 2019. There are nine years between now and then. Italy and Wales are actually in more jeopardy of having to qualify in 2019. Italy will likely face Canada, and Wales likely Fiji.

    Reply
  • Yeah, I think the Millennium Stadium is undoubtedly a world-class facility, but it should only be used for the say QF or SF when they want something with lots of capacity to generate ticket revenue. I say keep the pool stage completely in England, as they are the official hosts after all. Very respectable of you by the way, to admit that. Refreshing.

    Reply
  •  pretzel
    pretzel

    Isn't it the top 12 that are automatically in? Each pool has 3 international teams already selected, 4 pools, 3x4=12... So number 1 is NZ, number 12 is Scotland, seems like Scotland got in by the skin of their teeth...who else would you put in?

    Reply
  • Pool D will probably work out to Canada and Romania, in my mind. Which would nevertheless make for some awesome Rugby. Seems pretty evenly matched, IMO. Pool B could also be quite the affair. Predicting Japan and the USA will join them there, so could be room for quite the shake-up. Scotland is and probably will be playing poorly, while USA and Japan are on the ups. I agree with the finals prediction, that's the same result I came to when I worked it through beforehand. Pity too, as I would have hoped this RWC would be the chance for a country that hasn't taken the Cup before to do so. Fingers crossed that either Argentina or France make it there to shake things up.

    Reply
  •  pretzel
    pretzel

    Lol, I think Australia could be in a fair group, unless they had swapped with France (which would have been better for them). Your comment had me cracking up though!

    Reply
  •  pretzel
    pretzel

    No idea who I'd give it to. Not sure Lancaster would be my choice either, England looks to have progressed some, but the inconsistencies have perhaps to be overcome (I hope for the England team and fans alike sake this AB game is the beginnings), but yes you're probably right, the only one that's really in the runnings would have been Hansen, perhaps Santiago Phelan (the Arg coach) look how far they have come.

    Reply
  •  cbb
    cbb

    The Scottish get in every RWC regardless of their performance? In my opinion Scotland is the most over-rated team in international rugby!

    Reply
  •  cheyanqui
    cheyanqui

    In a way, looks like a nice draw for Argentina -- they could play France's pool in the QFs, and then perhaps play whomever came out of the Pool of Death alive. Either way, if The Rugby Championship prepares them well, I would give them a shot against any Six Nations team -- moreso than against RSA or NZL -- to reach the final.

    Reply
  •  cheyanqui
    cheyanqui

    According to the IRB website, NZL and RSA would play each other in the semifinals (if they both won their pools) http://www.rugbyworldcup.com/home/news/newsid=2064686.html -------------------- At the draw it was also confirmed that the knockout phase structure will be the same as previous Rugby World Cups: QF1: Winner Pool B v Runner-up Pool A -- QF where RSA would slot QF2: Winner Pool C v Runner-up Pool D -- QF where NZL would slot QF3: Winner Pool A v Runner-up Pool B QF4: Winner Pool D v Runner-up Pool C SF1: Winner QF1 v Winner QF2 SF2: Winner QF3 v Winner QF4 Bronze Final: Loser SF1 v Loser SF2 Final: Winner SF1 v Winner SF2

    Reply
  •  danknapp
    danknapp

    Happy with that for England. The World Cup pools needs to be a tough group to get you into the rhythm for the tournament. Australia at home will always be pretty tasty and I would say that if we can't win that then we don't deserve to consider ourselves title contenders. I'd always favour England at home against Wales, but it'll be a cracker of a game. To be honest, that's what I want to see from a home World Cup. Can't imagine anything worse than playing a series of 'easy' games and going into the knock-out stages under-prepared.

    Reply
  •  eggman
    eggman

    Oh sorry for the double post, but forgot to ask: Why the hell are they alreeady drawning the pools now, before every team actually qualified????? Couldn't they have waited another year or two even? Then the groups would've also been fairer, since in 3 years time teams that are good now might be going through a bad phase and vice versa..

    Reply
  •  eggman
    eggman

    Which other coach would you have given it to? The only other coaches that even deserve a mention are probably Saint-Andre and maybe Lancaster.. Though is it really that much easier to keep a winning team winning than to get a "bad" team and make it better? Hansen obviously did a fantastic job keeping the ABs focused and doing what they are doing best. Always hard on a coach if he takes over a good side and doesn't get credit for keeping it good (e.g. Barcelona coaches in football). Was always gonna be Carter or McCaw. McCaw probably deserved it a bit more but then again he already won it like 50 times...

    Reply
  •  eggman
    eggman

    Well during the draw I was saying "don't pick Australia, don't pick Australia" about 50 times when the final group A slot was up, so I guess I jinxed it. As everyone already pointed out, way too early to make predictions, but based on recent years I think Australia will probably be second, since they are unable to win more than 3 in a row. So I'm guessing Australia will beat either Wales or England and lose to the other nation, hopefully then coming in 2nd. Should be interesting how Argentina and Samoa keep developing until it starts. Scotland and South Africa might face some trouble there, and not only because of the hard hits. Same goes for Argentina.

    Reply
  •  pretzel
    pretzel

    As TechnoMouse said, it's 3 years away, who knows who could retire by then, who might fall foul with injury, etc. Dan Carter will be 33? Richie McCaw 35? I'm not suggesting these two players hold up the NZ team, however they are two huge names within the game, so for NZ who appear to have a relatively "easy" pool (No offence intended to Tonga or Argentina who are two big rugby nations in their own right) things could change (and not for the best either!). The rest of the pools.. Pool A could be the most interesting in some respects, Aus, Wales and England, all really have a good shot at the 1st and 2nd spot in that pool. Pool B, pretty sure SA are going to lead this group, could be Scotlands chance to make it out of the pools if they can squeeze a win over Samoa. Pool D, possibly the most predictable, I can see France heading this one with Ireland in 2nd place. But as mentioned before this a lot can happen in 3 years. As for the awards. Can't really argue with NZ winning it, they came off the RWC wins and just kept on winning, (they did have a draw against Aus, and a loss against Eng, but by far the best win loss ratio this year). I can't understand why Steve Hansen has got the award though, unless they felt he played a key role as the assistant before hand... because he has sort of adopted a winning team, and they just kept winning.... Dan Carter? Maybe, probably, I don't really know...

    Reply
  •  welshosprey
    welshosprey

    Quite happy with our group actually, avoided all the big hitters like south africa, samoa and tonga. If wales, england and australia all have full squads it'll be a great group. Oh and wales shouldn't be allowed to play any games at home. Completely unfair on other teams in our group.

    Reply
  •  technomouse
    technomouse

    It's hard to judge at the moment, because 3 years is a long time! Many of the teams will change a fair bit before the RWC comes round, and form will come and go. As an Englishman, I am a tad nervous about our draw - though on the other hand, we will be on home turf (will be interesting if we play Wales at the Millenium Stadium...) and have a knack of beating Australia in the WC. But it's far, far too early to say any team will beat any of the others.

    Reply

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