South Africa, Sport

South Africa will face New Zealand and Italy in pool stage of Rugby World Cup 2019

By Antoinette Muller 10 May 2017

The Springboks have been drawn in a tough group and will face the All Blacks in the pool stages of the Rugby World Cup for the first time ever. By ANTOINETTE MULLER.

The draw for the 2019 Rugby World Cup saw South Africa and New Zealand drawn against each other in Pool B. Also in the pool are Italy, another team from Africa yet to be determined and a repechage winner. It is the first time that the All Blacks and the Springboks meet as early as the group stages.

The eight remaining teams will be determined through a continental qualification process by the end of November 2018.

The format of the quarter-finals has not been determined yet, but assuming it works the same as the 2015 edition of the tournament, South Africa will play the winners of Pool A, should they finish as runners up in their group. If by some miracle the Boks manage to top their group, they will play the winners of Group A.

It is the first time in the history of the tournament that it will be played on “neutral ground” for the top Test nations. While Japan has been steadily improving – and will continue to do  so in the lead up to the tournament – it is unlikely that they are considered real contenders for the trophy.

Past tournaments have all been held in countries with a lengthy history of rugby, and thus offered some sort of advantage for the hosts.

The draw with Italy raises some awkward questions for Brendan Venter yet again. Venter recently joined the Boks on a short-term “consultation” basis as “defence and exists coach”. He does, however, also have a contract with Italy as defensive coach – reportedly until the World Cup. Some reports suggested that he might stay on with the Boks after France and could work as a “free agent” of sorts. However, the conflict of interest with the two sides drawn in the same pool cannot be missed.

Coach Allister Coetzee sang straight from the “saying much without saying anything at all” hymn sheet prior to the draw, when he said: “As I said before the draw was made – to us it doesn’t matter who we are drawn against, because to win the Rugby World Cup, you have to beat the best teams out there.

“The pools consist of five teams each and history shows that you need to win at least three of your four pool matches to be sure of a place in the play-offs. We will focus on our journey towards the RWC 2019 and make sure we are ready and well prepared.

“We’ve been working hard since arriving back from the 2016 Castle Lager Outgoing Tour to ensure improved results from now on forward, with the Rugby World Cup on the distant horizon.

“If ever there was testimony that the gap between the top teams have closed, then we saw that at the over the past few months in the Northern Hemisphere. With New Zealand established as the number one side, there is also very little to choose between the top sides in the world, while the next batch of teams continue to improve.”

Pool A: Ireland, Scotland, Japan, Europe 1, Play-off winner

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

The tournament will take place from 20 September 2019 to 2 November 2019 across four different venues in Japan. DM

Photo: Players of New Zealand (back) perform the Haka, or war dance, as the Springboks of South Africa (front) accept the challenge before the Rugby Championship rugby union test match at Soccer City in Soweto, South Africa, 06 October 2012. EPA/KIM LUDBROOK



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