The draw for the 2019 Rugby World Cup will be announced on Wednesday in Japan, where there is a strong possibility of another ‘Group of Death’ presenting itself in the ninth edition of the tournament.
It’s the first time the draw has been held this late having moved from its traditional place in December following the previous World Cup to allow nations a longer period of time to increase their World Rankings.
The seeding system from previous World Cups remains the same with the 12 direct qualifiers being seeded into the top three bands according to World Rugby’s Rankings on May 10, with the remaining eight positions to be decided from a series of qualifiers from Oceania, the Americas, Europe and Africa.
Wales were in jeopardy of falling out of the second band during the Six Nations, but managed to sneak back into the safety of the eighth ranking after their win over Ireland in March.
There’s a possibility that three of the 2015 Rugby World Cup semifinalists could be in the same pool with New Zealand and Australia in band one, South Africa band two, and Argentina band three.
Let’s have a look at previous draws that have thrown up an unenviable route to the quarterfinals for some.
Rugby World Cup 2015
England failed to advance from the 2015 World Cup’s Group of Death. Sportsfile/Corbis via Getty Images
The last RWC draw came under plenty of criticism and forced the change that has seen Wednesday’s announcement held much later than in previous tournaments.
The 2015 draw was conducted in early December in 2012, just weeks after Wales lost four Tests in a row during the autumn internationals and dropped down to ninth in the World Rugby rankings.
That saw Warren Gatland’s side to drop into the third pot of countries selected, and with England in the second allotment and Australia the first, Pool A became the undoubted Group of Death.
Less than three years later England were the victim of the poor fortune, becoming the first host country to bow out in the group stage in the history of the tournament as Wales and Australia advanced to the knockouts.
Rugby World Cup 2011
Samoa provided a stern test at the 2011 World Cup. Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images
There’s an argument to be made that there wasn’t just the one group of the death in New Zealand.
Pool B was made up of three quarterfinalists from the 2007 World Cup; England, Scotland and Argentina.
England beat both Scotland and Argentina by just four points, while posting convincing wins over Georgia and Romania to top the group. The Pumas snuck through to the quarterfinals following a one point win over Scotland which saw the Dark Blues exit the tournament at the group stage.
Meanwhile Pool D contained 2007 champions South Africa as well as Wales, Samoa and Fiji.
Samoa — buoyed by playing in front of thousands of local fans in New Zealand — provided a stiff test, and lost grueling matches to Wales and South Africa by less than 10 points.
Rugby World Cup 2007
Fiji celebrate their win over Wales at the 2007 World Cup. Mike Egerton – EMPICS/PA Images via Getty Images
Similar to the 2011 World Cup, there were two pools that conjured up big surprises.
Pool D was dubbed the Group of Death after the draw was made, and it proved to be the case after Ireland — who many pundits expected to do well — failed to advance to the quarterfinals.
Ireland opened the tournament with two comfortable wins before the wheels fell off with losses to France (25-3) and then Argentina (30-15).
Over in Pool B, Fiji caused the upset of the group stage by making the final eight at the expense of Wales.
Both countries faced off in the final round of pool matches, where Fiji prevailed 38-34 in what was their third loss to a Pacific Island nation at a World Cup tournament.
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