England’s hope of winning the 2019 World Cup suffered a major blow today when for the second successive tournament they were drawn in the Pool of Death – this time with France and Argentina.
Two years ago England failed to reach the knock out stages having been drawn with Australia and Wales with just two teams qualifying for the last eight. Now, England have to get past an improving French side and Argentina who will be facing head coach Eddie Jones and England players in two tests in June. England could also be joined in their pool by either Canada or USA plus one from Fiji, Tonga and Samoa.
If England win their pool they would play either Australia or Wales and then a possible semi-final with New Zealand if both teams win their pools.
Holders New Zealand are in the same pool as South Africa while Australia and Wales find themselves in the same pool for the second successive tournament after both qualified for the knock-out stages in 2015. Hosts Japan will fancy their chances of making the last eight as they are in the same pool as Ireland and Scotland.
England flanker James Haskell insists England will look positively at the draw and said:” Yes it is a tough draw but if you want to be the best team in the World then you have to beat the best. I am pretty happy with that draw. We will play New Zealand before the Cup and they are top of the tree and if we end up meeting them in the Cup earlier than a final then so be it.
“The lessons you learn is about winning at World Cups and nothing else and in 2015, for various reasons, we didn’t get to play the game we wanted in the Cup. We will learn from two years ago and I am not going to describe this as a Pool of Death. We have clocks counting down to the World Cup and Eddie’s mind is always on the tournament and ensuring we are ready.
“ We are playing a full strength Argentina team twice this summer and they have been playing some great rugby. All the experience we get playing against them will be good. In Cup tournament there are lots of potential banana skins and you have to be ready for anything. I have played rugby in Japan and it is very different and will test the squad. It would be a third Cup for me if I go and they haven’t gone very well so far and it’s not a case of righting any wrongs, it is about making sure the lessons have been learnt.
“For me a World Cup in Japan would be incredible. To be honest there is so much ahead of this England team that to think as far ahead as 2019 if very hard.”
Eddie Jones watched as the draw made in Kyoto in Japan by Bill Beaumont, the former England captain and chairman of World Rugby, and will now put even more emphasis on the two tests with Argentina in June even though he will be without his Lions players. Jones is taking young alternatives to Argentina to try and get the biggest group of players to choose from for the World Cup that would signal the end of his current contract with England.
Jones said:”Its all very exciting isn’t it, we’ve got two tests against Argentina in June so we can practise a little bit.. The French are really improving, especially in the last two years and they are dangerous team. A World Cup in Japan is massively exciting. It’s a unique country, a unique culture, rugby is on the up here, and I think everyone is looking forward to playing the tournament here.”
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen will aiming to win a third Cup in a row after the triumphs in 2011 and 2015.
as seen in Evening Standard