Defending champions avoided

Hockey: England teams in different pools to Australia for Commonwealth Games
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England will breathe a sigh of relief that the men's and women's teams have both been drawn in different pools to the defending champions Australia in next year's Commonwealth Games in Manchester.

The men will face Pakistan, Canada and Wales, while the women will have to play New Zealand, Canada and India. Both teams will now be expected to reach the semi-final stages of the competition.

The men open their campaign against Pakistan, while the women face their strongest pool challenge in their opening game as they start against New Zealand. There is a big incentive to win the pool as the top team automatically qualifies for the semi-finals, with the second and third team in each pool having to play a cross-over game.

In the women's competition Scotland have been drawn against Australia, South Africa and Jamaica. The second men's pool consists of Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Barbados. All matches will be played at a new two-pitch facility being provided at the Belle Vue leisure centre starting on 26 July, with the men's final on 4 August ending the event.

It has now been confirmed that the Men's Champions Challenge, which was to have been held in New Delhi but was switched because of security issues, will be rearranged for the same dates – 8-15 December – in Kuala Lumpur. It seems likely that the women's competition, in which England were to have participated, will be held in Korea or South Africa, but not until some time in the New Year.

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