With less than three years to go until rugby union’s greatest showpiece arrives back in England, the crucial draw for the pool stages of the 2015 Rugby World Cup takes place on Monday, December 3.
ITV4 will have live coverage of the all-important draw, which will be staged at the famous Tate Modern art gallery in London.
Mayor of London Boris Johnson will be involved in the live draw to determine the pools the teams will be in, and will also deliver a speech to give fans from around the world a taste of what to expect when England stages the 2015 tournament.
Rugby World Cup Ltd chairman Bernard Lapasset, England 2015 chief executive Debbie Jevans, captain of the reigning world champions Richie McCaw and England Women’s player and England 2015 ambassador Maggie Alphonsi will assist the Mayor with the draw presentation.
Will Greenwood, a member of England’s Rugby World Cup winning side in 2003 and an England 2015 ambassador, will be the event’s master of ceremonies.
As was the case in 2011, the 2015 Rugby World Cup will consist of 20 teams split into four pools, with IRB world rankings playing a key part determining who plays who in the pool stages in 2015.
The top 12 sides from the 2011 tournament already secured their places for the 2015 finals, and they will be banded into three groups of four based on their position in the rankings.
A further eight teams that will make up bands four and five will come through the ongoing regional qualification tournaments.
One team from each of the five bands will then be drawn into each pool, with sides from the same band avoiding each other in the draw.
The recent summer tours and the ongoing autumn internationals took on extra significance as the top sides attempted to give themselves the best chance of a favourable draw.
Overall, the Southern Hemisphere sides dominated the autumn series, with big victories for world champions New Zealand over Scotland, Italy and Wales, but England’s win over Fiji and their astonishing 38-21 victory over the All Blacks, plus Ireland’s victory over Argentina, gave the Northern Hemisphere some something to cheer about as the draw approaches.
The top four sides in the world are guaranteed to be kept apart in the pool stage.
World champions New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and France will occupy the top four spots in the draw and will go into band one.
Hosts England and Ireland will be placed in band two and will be joined by Samoa and Argentina.
The 2011 World Cup semi-finalists Wales dropped into the third tier of seeds after a narrow defeat to Australia in Cardiff, and see the Six Nations Grand Slam champions ranked alongside Italy, Tonga and Scotland.
Samoa and Argentina make up the second band of seeds, with the IRB having to go to 15 decimal places to separate Samoa from the Pumas.
UPDATE: Rugby World Cup 2015 Pool Allocation Draw
Pool A: Australia, England, Wales, Oceania 1, Play-off Winner
Pool B: South Africa, Samoa, Scotland, Asia 1, Americas 2
Pool C: New Zealand, Argentina, Tonga, Europe 1, Africa 1
Pool D: France, Ireland, Italy, Americas 1, Europe 2
The 2015 Rugby World Cup will be staged in England from September 18 to the final at Twickenham on October 31.
All 48 games will be played at a number of grounds, including Wembley, Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium, and football stadiums such as Old Trafford and Anfield, with the final list of venues to be announced next year.
“The anticipation ahead of the draw has been palpable,” says Rugby World Cup Ltd chairman Bernard Lapasset.
“The race to secure a favourable position for the draw has been exciting and unprecedented and added an extra dimension for fans around the world.
“I am looking forward to an event that will truly signal the beginning of the countdown to England’s hosting of Rugby World Cup 2015 for teams and fans.”
“The interest and excitement around the draw gives us a real taste of what to expect when England hosts the eighth Rugby World Cup in 2015 and an exceptional event that will engage new audiences the length and breadth of the country, while delivering a lasting legacy for the ongoing development of Rugby across England and around the world.”
Boris Johnson said: “It’s an honour to be part of the 2015 draw, which decides the route that the world’s best Rugby teams will take towards raising that magnificent trophy.
“It also marks the countdown to this great tournament, when the excitement really starts to build in anticipation of some awesome Rugby on our home soil.”
“London proved this summer that it is simply the best place in the world to stage international sport.
“So it’s fantastic that as host city for 2015 we have been given the honour of staging matches from another of the world’s largest sporting events, which will see top flight competition return to London and the UK’s iconic venues so quickly after the 2012 Games.”
ITV Sport will be the host broadcaster for the 2015 Rugby World Cup and will be the only place to see all 48 matches live.
Craig Doyle and Martin Bayfield will introduce live coverage of the pool stage draw from London’s Tate Modern on ITV4, and in high-definition on ITV4 HD, on Monday, December 3.
The draw will also be simulcast on the IRB website.
.Monday 3rd December IRB Rugby World Cup 2015 – Pool Stage Draw LIVE: 2.45pm-3.30pm – ITV4