Rugby World Cup 2019: Joe Schmidt excited to draw host nation Japan

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt (left) with Japan's coach Jamie Joseph and Scotland's Director of Rugby Scott Johnson after the Rugby World Cup draw in Japan
Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt (left) with Japan's coach Jamie Joseph and Scotland's Director of Rugby Scott Johnson after the Rugby World Cup draw in Japan

Ireland have been drawn with Scotland and hosts Japan in a favourable draw for the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

Holders New Zealand are in Pool B with South Africa and Italy while England are in a tough Pool C alongside France and Argentina.

Wales will face Australia in Pool D, with both sides having qualified ahead of England from the group stage of the 2015 World Cup.

Ireland also face 'Europe 1' and the play-off winner in the five-team pool.

Schmidt 'mixed bag'

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt said: "I think it's incredibly exciting to draw the host nation".

"I think the crowd, the enthusiasm and the interest in that game is going to be huge."

As the fourth-ranked team in the world, Ireland were drawn in the top pool and managed to avoid some potentially difficult teams in the second and third pools, boosting their prospects of reaching the semi-finals for the first time.

Ireland have met Japan twice before in the Rugby World Cup, beating in Dublin in 1991 and South Africa in 1995, but the Irish will be wary of a developing nation that memorably beat South Africa in the last World Cup.

Schmidt takes his Ireland squad on a summer tour to Japan next month to play two Tests against the 2019 World Cup hosts.

Ireland have won two Six Nations championships in four years under head coach Joe Schmidt
Ireland have won two Six Nations championships in four years under head coach Joe Schmidt

"We've seen the upward curve that Japan have taken in recent times - they got very close to beating Wales in the Millennium Stadium last autumn and obviously their heroics in the last World Cup were pretty spectacular," Schmidt said.

"It's very hard to assess where teams are going to be in two years' time.

"We lost to Scotland recently, so it's a mixed bag."

Scotland, who defeated Ireland in this year's Six Nations campaign, also beat the Irish in their only previous World Cup meeting in a pool match in Edinburgh in 1991.

Romania are currently in the 'Europe 1' slot but qualification will not be determined until next year's Rugby Europe Championship.

"I think the European qualifiers could be Romania most likely - we'll obviously need to be on our mettle (against them).

"Lastly (for the play-off winners), it could be Tonga or Samoa or Fiji depending on how that works out, because they've traditionally got through and got really strong representation in the previous World Cups."

Full draw

Pool A: Ireland, Scotland, Japan, Europe 1, play-off winner (Europe 2 v Oceania 3)

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

Reaction - 'win seven games'

England head coach Eddie Jones: "We want to win the World Cup in 2019, and to win it, we need to be ready to play and beat anyone.

"Our pool will be highly competitive and full of intensity, as a World Cup group should be. History shows that you need to win seven games to win the tournament and we will greatly respect every team we play."

Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend: "Obviously there's an excitement as well playing the host nation and it probably guarantees a sell-out game in that fixture and I'm sure there will be a lot of buzz around Japan around the group we're involved in.

"Whether it's better for us or Ireland that we know each other so well, we will find out in a couple of years' time."

Wales head coach Warren Gatland: "We've got Australia and it looks like we could get Fiji again, so a couple of teams from 2015 but we're happy with the draw.

"It's going to be tough and competitive, but that's what you want."

England could face Wales in quarters

World rugby have confirmed the structure for the knockout stages of the 2015 tournament will remain in place in 2019.

Quarter-final 1: Winners of Pool B would face runners up in Pool A

Quarter-final 2: Winners of Pool C would face runners up in Pool D

Quarter-final 3: Winners of Pool D would face runners up in Pool C

Quarter-final 4: Winners of Pool A would face runners up in Pool B

The winners of QF 1 and QF 2 would meet in the semi-finals as would the winners of QF 3 and QF 4.

Top Stories