England's All Black test in World Cup

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The Independent Online
England look set to meet the All Blacks in the group stage of the 1999 World Cup after yesterday's draw for the competition in Dublin.

Two European qualifying places are available in Pool B, and England are expected to take one of the spots for the group matches to be played at Twickenham. The All Blacks are the seeded country in the four-strong pool - one of five in the 20-team tournament.

England have played New Zealand in the last two World Cups and lost on both occasions. In 1995, England were defeated 45-29 by the All Blacks in the semi-finals in Cape Town and were beaten 18-12 in the first group game of the 1991 World Cup at Twickenham.

The other groups see the seeded South Africans playing in Pool A at Murrayfield, the Five Nations champions, France, in Pool C on home soil while the host nation, Wales, who are in in Pool D, are set to kick off their challenge in front of their own supporters.

In Pool E, Ireland are likely to meet Australia at Lansdowne Road, although neither team has made sure of a seeded appearance in the tournament.

The qualifying rounds will be played in November 1998, with Pool 1 in England, Pool 2 in Scotland and Ireland hosting Pool 3.

DRAW FOR 1999 RUGBY WORLD CUP: Pool A (To be held in Scotland): South Africa, Europe 3, Europe 4, Repechage 2. Pool B (To be held in England): New Zealand, Europe 2, Europe 5, Repechage 1. Pool C (To be held in France): France, Pacific 2, America 2, Africa 1. Pool D (To be held in Wales): Wales, America 1, Pacific 3, Asia 1. Pool E (To be held in Ireland): Pacific 1, Europe 1, America 3, Europe 6.

n Carel du Plessis, the Springboks coach, has announced the changes for his team to take on the All Blacks in Saturday's opening Tri-Nations Championship Test in Johannesburg. Naka Drotske replaces the injured James Dalton at hooker, while Marius Hurter takes Dawie Theron's role at tight head.