Rugby Union: England's rosy draw

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THE wearers of the rose came up smelling of roses when the schedule for the 1995 World Cup in South Africa was announced in Cape Town yesterday. England, the second seeds, are grouped with Western Samoa (seeded seven) plus an American and European qualifier.

Remembering that Wales still have to qualify (and could conceivably end up with England in a pool divided between the eastern towns of Durban, Pietermaritzburg and East London), no wonder Dick Best, the England coach, was so pleased.

'It looks favourable for us,' he said. In fact although the Samoans beat Wales in 1991, and so left them needing to qualify for 1995, England will have every chance of winning the group and going forward to a quarter-final in Port Elizabeth.

Scotland and France head one pool, New Zealand and Ireland another. The hosts are thrown in with two seeds, the holders Australia, and the 1991 wild cards Canada. The Springboks and the Wallabies will launch the tournament on 25 May 1995 with a repeat of their meeting at Newlands, Cape Town, last August. Australia won that 26-3.

This World Cup will follow much the same pattern as the previous version in the Five Nations, with that first game taking place on a Thursday. The final will eventually follow at Ellis Park, Johannesburg, on 24 June. As England's group matches will be at sea level, they could subsequently suffer acclimatisation problems if and when they move to 6,000ft altitude for the later stages.

The improving Welsh have to be favoured to be the leading European qualifier, making it more likely that they will be in with New Zealand and Ireland - and given the state of Irish rugby they would fancy their chances of reaching the last eight. Italy and Argentina will probably end up alongside England and Western Samoa, with Romania filling the third European qualifying place and therefore accompanying South Africa, Australia and Canada. The Pacific (probably Fiji) and African (almost certainly Namibia) qualifiers will join France and Scotland, with Asia's representative (possibly Japan) in the New Zealand-Ireland group.

1995 RUGBY WORLD CUP: Pool A: Australia, Canada, South Africa, third European qualifier. Pool B: England, Western Samoa, Americas qualifier, second European qualifier. Pool C: New Zealand, Ireland, first European qualifier, Asian qualifier. Pool D: Scotland, France, Pacific qualifier, African qualifier.

SEEDS (ranked on 1991 World Cup results): 1 Australia; 2 England; 3 New Zealand; 4 Scotland; 5 France; 6 Ireland; 7 Western Samoa; 8 Canada.

PLAYING SCHEDULE: FIRST ROUND: 25 May: Pool A: Australia v South Africa (Cape Town). 26 May: Pool B: England v Americas (Durban); Pool C: Europe 1 v Asia (Potchefstroom); Pool D: France v Pacific (Pretoria). 27 May: Pool A: Canada v Europe 3 (Wellington); Pool B: Western Samoa v Europe 2 (Pietermaritzburg); Pool C: New Zealand v Ireland (Johannesburg); Pool D: Scotland v Africa (Rustenburg). 30 May: Pool B: Western Samoa v Americas (East London), England v Europe 2 (Pietermaritzburg); Pool C: Ireland v Asia (Johannesburg); Pool D France v Africa (Rustenburg). 31 May: Pool A: South Africa v Europe 3 (Port Elizabeth), Australia v Canada (Cape Town); Pool C: New Zealand v Europe 1 (Johannesburg), Pool D: Scotland v Pacific (Pretoria). 3 June: Pool A: Canada v South Africa (Port Elizabeth); Pool C: New Zealand v Asia (Potchefstroom), Ireland v Europe 1 (Bloemfontein); Pool D: Scotland v France (Pretoria). 4 June: Pool A: Australia v Europe 3 (Stellenbosch); Pool B: Americas v Europe 2 (East London), England v Western Somoa (Durban); Pool D: Pacific v Africa (Witbank).

QUARTER-FINALS: 10 June: Game E: Winner D v Runner-up A (Durban); Game F: Winner A v Runner-up D (Bloemfontein). 11 June: Game G: Winner C v Runner-up B (Rustenburg); Game H: Winner B v Runner-up C (Port Elizabeth). SEMI-FINALS: 17 June: Winner E v Winner F (Durban). 18 June: Winner G v Winner H (Cape Town). THIRD-PLACE PLAY-OFF: 21 June (Pretoria). FINAL: 24 June (Johannesburg).