The 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan may be a while away still, but today Ireland were handed what many will feel is a very favourable draw. We were drawn in a pool against hosts Japan, Scotland as well as a still unknown European country and a play-off winner yet to be decided.
The tournament will take place from September 20th 2019 to 2nd November 2019 in Japan where the All Blacks will be looking to win a third successive title.
Ireland will be looking to shine on the world stage and to put the pain of previous World Cup competitions behind them. Compared to our 6 Nations successes and high world rankings, we have underperformed at the World Cup, failing to progress past the quarter finals. In 2015 we were ranked second in the world but an injury hampered team fell to Argentina at the quarter final stage.
Today’s favourable draw is a massive boost that could help Ireland have a successful World Cup campaign in 2019.
Ireland have played Japan 5 times in the past and won all 5, the last match being in 2005. Joe Schmidt’s side will be able to do their homework on Japan when they play them in 2 test matches this June. Japan are currently ranked 11th in the world but are no strangers to causing a World Cup upset. They famously upset the odds by beating South Africa in their opening game of the 2015 World Cup.
Ireland have played Scotland 132 times. They’ve won 61, lost 66, and drawn on 5 occasions. However, the teams have played 7 times in the last 5 years, with Ireland winning 5 of those matches. Our last defeat to Scotland was in February at Murrayfield where we were narrowly defeated after starting slowly. Scotland are currently 5th in the World rankings, just behind Ireland.
Ireland traditionally have been drawn in tough pools at the World Cup (2015, 2011, 2007, 2003) which took a toll on the side during the knockout phases. So today’s favourable draw could signify a change in our World Cup fortunes.