RWC 2019 Pool draw.



The Pools

Pool A: Ireland, Scotland, Japan, Europe 1 and a playoff team
Pool B: New Zealand, South Africa, Italy, African qualifier and a repachage team
Pool C England, France, Argentina, Americas 1 and Oceana 2
Pool D: Australia, Wales, Georgia, Oceana 1 and Americas 2
20 squads in 4 pools.

The quarter finals are; Winner Pool A V. Runner-up Pool B. & vice versa (crossover)
Winner Pool C V runner-up Pool D and vice versa

The draw has been kind to Joe Schmidt and Ireland.

The RWC is about history:

There has been 8 RWC’s from 1987 - 2015; seven of them were won by Southern Hemisphere Countries, one by England 2003

Only five countries have competed in the eight finals from the 110 countries affiliated to World Rugby;
New Zealand the triple champions in 1987, 2011 & 2015 (4 finals), Australia - 2 wins (4 finals) South Africa - 2 wins (2 finals) England - 1 win in 2003 (3 finals), France has played in 3 finals without a win

It is a very exclusive club, in fact you could say that RWC belongs to the Southern hemisphere.

Ireland was ranked in the top four seeding for this 2019 draw, but we have under performed in the RWC. We qualified for six quarter finals - missing out on two and we have never made the Semi- finals. France and England have represented the six nations in the finals.

Only New Zealand, Australia and France have qualified for all eight quarter finals.

Joe Schmidt’s stated objective for the 2015 RWC in England was to be a semi-finalist, which did not happen and he will in all probability renew that pledge for 2019, when his Irish current Irish contract expires.

Ten Irish referees have officiated at the eight RWC’s and Joe Schmidt and Paul O’Connell were coach and captain respectively at the 2015 edition.

For the 2019 edition, we have been handed our best pool draw yet, with Scotland and Japan with two qualifiers, we have avoided the dreaded southern hemisphere countries at this stage and will be targeting a realistic Pool win.

Joe Schmidt will be making a case for playing the home team with huge support and that Scotland are good - they beat us in the 2017 6N. Nevertheless we need to cut through all of this jargon and Ireland expects to have a pool winner and a semi finalist.

As the RWC really starts with the last eight qualifiers we hope to be in a position of being pool winners and then face the cross over from pool B of New Zealand and South Africa (we play the runner-up)

At the quarter final stage there is no where to hide, to be the best - you have to beat the best, so we have to raise our game and make the semis. It will be Schmidt’s last RWC with Ireland and there is every incentive for him to bow out on a winning note.

We have made mistakes in the past in the biggest rugby tournament in the world - the place where real and proper rankings are established every four years.

Joe Schmidt should have learned from his 2015 experience, he did not rotate the players during the tournament and there was an over reliance on players in some positions. Some were injured before going out and in reality should not have travelled so he needs to be very tough on his squad selection - Not fit - don’t travel.

He was also dealt a blow with injuries which he did not recover from and failed to possible call up replacements. I found it particularly difficult to accept blaming Ian Madigan for losing the QF, after Sexton was unfit to play.

If you remember he missed a critical penalty “because of lack of matches at number ten”, it was the coach’s job to have professional backup in each position, and to have Madigan ready for such eventualities.

Look it is two years away, a week is a long time in rugby, we have two six Nations tournaments to win a grand slam, and a championship and to bring together a winning formula and develop our squad of 17 forwards and 14 backs to take to Tokyo in magical 2019.

Report by Frank Quinn