Leo Williams, the chairman of Rugby World Cup, released details of the tournament draw yesterday and as expected, England will share a group with New Zealand. If they fail to beat the All Blacks at Twickenham in mid-October 1999, they will condemn themselves not only to an extra quarter- final "play-off'' - probably against the supremely physical Western Samoa - but to the hardest imaginable route through the knock-out phase.
The draw indicates that the winners of Pool B will face either the Scots or another of the Pacific island sides in the last eight and the French in the semi-finals. By the starkest of contrasts, the runners-up will almost certainly face South Africa, the world champions, in Paris at the quarter-final stage and, if they survive, go on to face the Wallabies in a semi-final match at Twickenham.
"I think I'd prefer to win the group," said Woodward last night as he prepared his side for today's tough encounter with New Zealand A in Hamilton.
Before they turn their thoughts to the tournament proper, England must negotiate a two-match qualifying interlude this autumn. Romania and the Netherlands are their likeliest opponents. The Wallabies must also go through a qualifying procedure, but their rivals are rather more of a challenge: Western Samoa, Fiji and Tonga.
Wales, the host nation for next year's showpiece, will kick off against the leading American qualifier, in all likelihood Argentina, in Cardiff on 1 October. The final will take place 37 days later after 41 matches involving 20 countries and four English grounds - Twickenham, Welford Road in Leicester, the McAlpine Stadium in Huddersfield and Bristol City's football arena at Ashton Gate - will be in use.
ENGLAND (v New Zealand A today): T Beim (Sale); M Moore (Sale), N Beal (Northampton), J Baxendell (Sale), D Chapman (Richmond); J Lewsey (Bristol), M Dawson (Northampton, capt); T Windo (Gloucester), P Greening (Gloucester), W Green (Wasps), R Fidler (Gloucester), D Sims (Gloucester), B Clarke (Richmond), P Sanderson (Sale), S Ojomoh (Gloucester). Replacements: S Potter (Leicester), A King (Wasps), P Richards (London Irish), L Moody (Leicester), D Grewcock (Saracens), D Crompton (Richmond), G Shuter (Saracens). 1999 World cup draw Qualifying matches
Pool A: Saturday 2 October: Europe 4 v Repechage 2 (Galashiels, 3pm); Sunday 3 October: Europe 3 (Scotland) v South Africa (Murrayfield, 5pm); Friday 8 October: Europe 3 (Scotland) v Repechage 2 (Murrayfield, 4pm); Sunday 10 October: South Africa v Europ e 4 (Murrayfield, 5pm); Friday 15 October: South Africa v Repechage 2 (Glasgow, 5pm); Saturday 16 October: Europe 3 (Scotland) v Europe 4 (Murrayfield, 3pm). Pool B: Saturday 2 October: Europe 2 (England) v Europe 5 (Twickenham, 5pm); Sunday 3 October: New Zealand v Repechage 1 (Bristol, 3pm); Saturday 9 October: Europe 2 (England) v New Zealand (Twickenham, 4.30pm); Sunday 10 October: Europe 5 v Repechage 1 (Leicester, 7pm); Thursday 14 October: New Zealand v Europe 5 (Huddersfield, 1pm); Friday 15 October: Europe 2 (England) v Repechage 1 (Twickenham, 1pm). Pool C: Friday 1 October: Pacific 2 v Africa 1 (Beziers, 9pm); Saturday 2 October: France v America 2 (Beziers, 2pm); Friday 8 October: France v Africa 1 (Bordeaux, 9pm); Saturday 9 October: Pacific 2 v America 2 (Bordeaux, 1.30pm); Thursday 14 October: America 2 v Africa 1 (Toulouse, 8.30pm); Saturday 16 October: France v Pacific 2 (Toulouse, 2pm). Pool D: Friday 1 October: Wales v America 1 (Cardiff, 3pm); Sunday 3 October: Pacific 3 v Asia 1 (Wrexham, 1pm); Saturday 9 October: Wales v Asia 1 (Cardiff, 2.30pm); Sunday 10 October: America 1 v Pacific 3 (Llanelli, 1pm); Thursday 14 October: Wales v Pacific 3 (Cardiff, 3pm); Saturday 16 October: America 1 v Asia 1 (Cardiff, 7pm). Pool E: Saturday 2 October: Europe 1 (Ireland) v America 3 (Dublin, 7pm); Sunday 3 October: Pacific 1 v Europe 6 (Belfast, 7pm); Saturday 9 October: America 3 v Europe 6 (Dublin, 7pm); Sunday 10 October: Europe 1 (Ireland) v Pacific 1 (Dublin, 3pm);Thur sday 14 October: Pacific 1 v America 3 (Limerick, 5pm); Friday 15 October: Europe 1 (Ireland) v Europe 6 (Dublin, 7pm). Quarter-final play-offs
Wednesday 20 October: Runner-up B v Runner-up C (H), (Twickenham, 1pm); Runner-up A v Runner-up D (G) (Murrayfield, 3.30pm); Runner-up E v 3rd best (F) (Lens, 7pm). Quarter-finals
Saturday 23 October: Winner D v Winner E (M) (Cardiff, 3pm); Sunday 24 October: Winner A v Winner H (J) (Paris, 2pm); Sunday 24 October: Winner B v Winner G (K) (Murrayfield, 3.30); Winner C v Winner F (L) (Dublin, 6pm). semi-finals
Saturday 30 October: Winner J v Winner M (Twickenham, 3pm); Sunday 31 October: Winner K v Winner L (Twickenham, 3pm). Third place play-off: Thursday 4 November: Play-off between losing semi-finalists (Cardiff, 8pm). final
Saturday 6 November (Cardiff, 3pm).
* All kick-off times given as local times. * If Ireland, England and Scotland qualify, they will occupy positions Europe 1, Europe 2 and Europe 3 respectively.Reuse content